Mentor teachers are practicing K–12 public school teachers who coach and encourage UTeach students as they teach their lessons in the field and progress through the program. Mentor teachers receive compensation for their contributions. Selection of mentor teachers requires meetings with people at various levels in the district, including directors of science and math programs, curriculum specialists in science and math, principals, and department chairs. Mentor teachers work with students in their field assignments, and their roles vary, depending on the course:
- Elementary and middle school mentor teachers permit Step 1 and Step 2 students to observe the classrooms and teach three lessons to their students. Step 2 mentor teachers suggest topics for these lessons, review lesson plans prior to their presentation, and provide verbal and written feedback to the UTeach students upon the completion of each lesson. They also complete individual final evaluations for each Step 2 student. Step 1 mentor teachers take a less active role in students’ lesson preparation but provide lesson and final evaluation feedback.
- Mentor teachers in local high schools invite Classroom Interaction students to observe their classes and teach a series of lessons to the classes. They provide verbal and written feedback to the UTeach students.
- Project-Based Instruction students visit high school classes that incorporate project-based learning. Mentor teachers receive stipends for their work with these students.
- Mentor teachers work with apprentice teachers who are assigned to their classrooms.
UTeach students evaluate their mentor teachers at the end of the semester. It is important for a UTeach program to take the students’ comments seriously, and if students identify correctable problems, the UTeach instructor can work with the mentor teacher on improvement where needed.