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Content Specific Mentoring Program (CSMP)

The early years of teaching are a critical period of development. Professional support at this juncture can both have a positive impact on teacher effectiveness and stem attrition from the profession. Most district-sponsored mentoring, however, does not delve into subject-specific support.

CSMP is both investigating the knowledge base and practices of content-focused mentoring for new teachers of diverse learners and developing and testing professional-development models that are effective in building mentors’ capacity. The program, developed in partnership with the Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP), pairs secondary novice teachers with mentors who have experience teaching and mentoring in the same subject domain. The first- through third-year teachers are employed in schools in the San Francisco Bay Area whose populations include high percentages of students from non-dominant cultural and linguistic communities. The research investigates such questions as:

  • What do mentors need to know and be able to do to support new teachers in their content areas and to support novices in addressing the needs of diverse learners, particularly English-language learners, in their content areas?
  • What are mentors’ practices both for mentoring in content-specific contexts and for mentoring related to the instruction of linguistically diverse groups of English-language learners?
  • How does context shape the nature of mentoring exchanges?
  • How should mentors be prepared and sustained in order to allow them to support novice teachers in both content areas and in their instruction of English-language learners?
  • How is the professional development of mentors associated with changes in the knowledge and practice of both mentors and new teachers?

The project is directed by Cristina So and supported in part by the Leon Lowenstein Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.