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G-T weighs in on mentor teachers

Becky Masters says teachers are overwhelmed with demands, mentors help

October 7, 2018
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

Editor's note: in Monday's edition of the Estherville News, our newsroom looked into the teacher leadership programs across the state, which were praised by the governor recently. One of these programs is at Graettinger-Terril School District.

GRAETTINGER - Becky Masters, a master teacher for Graettinger Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire, said she personally likes the term instructional coach better than master teacher.

"The reason we call it master/mentor teacher, is because we work with the National Institute for Excellent in Teaching (NIET) and use their format," Masters said.

Officials at Graettinger-Terril were notified last December that the district was one of the top 12 in the state for student performance.

"They interviewed Andy [Woiwood, district superintendent] and myself via phone and a month later we were picked as one of the top six

NIET offers a rubric that gives examples of what good teaching is: standards, objectives, ways to motivate students, lesson structure, pacing, questioning strategies, and academic feedback, as well as managing student behavior.

"We look at that and talk with our teachers about different strategies for each area, and we work individually on their growth plan, including how they can improve on the areas they choose, so it's very individualized professional development," Masters said.

Parents often have questions about why teachers take part in what seems like so much more professional development today than they did years ago, and why teaching strategies and learning objectives seem to have changed so much from decades ago. Teacher mentoring is one reason.

"Teachers are very overwhelmed and there are a lot of demands on them. This is a different time from when we went to school and sat in rows and worked on worksheets and read a book," Masters said. "It's a lot more performance-based now."

With new technology and ways to measure performance comes new data, Masters said.

"We look at our school data to see which areas our students need to get better at, and what we need to do to improve so our students will improve," Masters said.

The district has a leadership team that meets once per month, and meets with mentor teachers to allow them time to get out of the classroom and observe other classes, Masters said.

"It was exciting to know our little school in northwest Iowa was selected," Masters said.



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