Mentorship System Assists Incoming Graduate Students


Written by: Justin Ikpo (cehdcomm@tamu.edu)
Post date: February 17, 2016

Former students in the Master’s of Education program have created a mentorship system aimed at spreading their teaching knowledge to other incoming graduate students. Dr. Larry Kelly, Clinical Professor in Science Education and Technology, said his students are setting a standard within his program in helping incoming teachers excel in their first year of teaching.

The Master’s of Education program caters to students aiming to become in-state teachers in various subject areas. All students in the program are required to take a set of required teaching courses. Following a number of in class observations and prerequisite classes, students later lead their own classroom — assuming all the responsibilities of a normal teacher. 

“The first semester is stressful. Many of them must get used to meeting district and state requirements as well as having a lesson plan every day,” Dr. Kelly said. “I tell my students that they start learning how to become teacher when they start having their own classes.” 

Though Dr. Kelly’s students do their internships in various school districts across the state, many of these students get to know each other well beforehand and form strong bonds throughout the program. Once a student completes the program, they not only graduate with their master’s degree and a teaching certification, but they also receive a fulltime job starting in August of the their internship school year.

Since the fall of 2014 however, students who have graduated from the program decided to give back to other incoming students. By forming various groups, many of Dr. Kelly’s former students began reaching out to incoming students and assisting them with helpful tools and advice. 

“It’s something that they themselves started to do and it makes me feel good,” Dr. Kelly said. “One of the things we stress is not only how to learn to teach, but also how to be a leader. They are very active in supporting each other.”Tweet This.

According to Dr. Kelly, many districts provide mentors for graduate students including Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, where many of his students attend. However, not all designated mentors will reflect a student’s content area or grade level. 

This is where Dr. Kelly’s student mentors step in. Having been through many of the same courses and challenges, the former students have created ways to engage the newer students and help with the transition. They have established Facebook groups where ideas and tips are freely shared, and occasionally, local meetings are scheduled to establish a closer bond with one another. 

“I want them to interact,” Dr. Kelly said. “One year, one of our groups found all of the names of the new interns and met up with them at a local restaurant. The newer students saw that if the other students survived, they could survive too. And now, the newer students are continuing that tradition.”

Dr. Kelly continues to keep in touch with many of his former students — many of whom have gone to become department heads and administrators. 

“One of the last things I say to my students before their internship, is that if they see someone from the same program who is an Aggie, they have to pay it forward,” Dr. Kelly said. “Since they have the service built in focus on being an Aggie, I want them to be leaders in their department in any way that they can.”