“Seeing is believing” is an expression as old as human history, but it was a new twist on it that helped inspire the creation of one of our most exciting new initiatives, a mentoring program for child care classroom teachers to help them see great teaching in action.
It all began one day when one of the Technical Assistants from our Excellence in Care and Early Learning (ExCEL) team, Charshina McMillian, was making a weekly technical assistance(TA) visit with a classroom teacher at a center on our Enhancement Team. While good intentioned, there was lots of room for improvement. As at each weekly visit, Shina modeled the behaviors the teacher should use. She educated her on ways she could improve the care of children in her charge. The teacher wanted to improve, but was a little skeptical. She said to Shina, “Yeah, I’d like to see a classroom where they do it that way.” Light bulb! What if we could bring teachers from classrooms needing improvement to those that are getting it right, so that they could see quality in action?
Shina took the idea to our Director of Early Care and Education, Marcia Bacon, and they began to create a plan that would match classroom teachers with experienced teacher mentors. United Way of the Midlands provided six months of initial funding for the new Mentoring Initiative. After seeing our results, in which classrooms that received the mentoring improved at nearly double the rate of those with TA alone, they renewed the funding for an additional three years!
We are incredibly proud of the work being done in the Mentoring Initiative, and are currently having conversations with our partners about how we might expand the initiative to serve even more teachers, improving the quality of care for even more children.