Emily Grand is excited to be starting her third year in the classroom as a chemistry and biology teacher at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy. She began her career in education as a Kansas City Teach For America corps member in 2013 and has come to call Kansas City home. When she's not grading, she enjoys reading, running, eating the desserts her roommate makes, and spending time with her friends and family.
Emily started her education career like many fresh graduates with an ambitious appetite for success and vicious enthusiasm. However many first year teachers will buckle under the weight of the pressure in school facing unexpected situations without critical support. Emily notes that Teach for America has a great program that helps new teachers improve and handle these new environments with ease.
“Starting out, I was surprised at the level of disinvestment in urban education and the feeling of failure which has permeated throughout our community. Fresh graduates go from this environment of constant feedback and support to demanding situations they are not prepared to tackle.You end up with two groups of teachers- ones who keep trying to make it and another who slowly give up on impacting real, positive change.”
Teachers who start off without a mentor or community of support are more likely to disengage and leave the system. Emily hopes to spread the environment she had in Teach for America through a personal mentorship program. Experienced teachers can help fresh ones work through problems in the classroom, fix lesson plans, own their professional development and share it with someone who will hold them accountable.
“The idea of a mentorship is an unregulated relationship between two teachers. Instead of complaining about a problem child and venting about your week, younger teachers can receive that loop of feedback, set benchmarks, develop a plan, and work on helping students.”
10 hours a year, 1 hour a month, the mentor will push and encourage the younger teacher to work on areas of improvement and set benchmarks for them. This allows enough time to enact new methods in the classroom while maintaining a longer term goal for development.
“All invested parties need to realize that they create their own realities, students and teachers can become stuck in this mindset that failure is permanent. The object is to think differently.”
Emily is currently working to develop district and university partnerships to achieve the goal of a better teacher mentor program, in addition to reaching out to other districts with established development programs. She would love help in evaluating cost and revenue structures, creating a stronger business canvas, troubleshooting start-up, and building key partnerships to help her vision come to life. Come see her rollout the initial mentor network at Lean Lab’s Launch Day 2015.