A Brief History and IntroductionTop of page

In 1999, the Association implemented a program to help locals and jurisdictions set up mentorship programs for beginning teachers. The goal of such programs is to help beginning teachers get started by pairing them with veteran teachers. The Association believes that formal mentorship programs benefit both mentors and protégés in several ways. For example, through mentoring, mentors often feel a sense of renewal and become more willing to try new teaching techniques. For their part, protégés acquire skills and knowledge that enable them to cope with their various responsibilities. More important, both mentors and protégés believe that the mentorship experience improves their teaching.

The Association's mentorship program is based on a pilot project that it undertook in 1996 in collaboration with Red Deer City Local No 60, Red Deer Public School District No 104, the University of Alberta and Red Deer College. The Association published a detailed description of this pilot project in a monograph entitled Mentorship Program: A Model Project.

In 2008 the Association undertook a five-year longitudinal study which followed 135 beginning teachers in their first five years in the profession. The study responded to three questions:

  1. Can the sources of attrition within the first five years of teaching be determined? Why do teachers leave and where do they go?
  2. To what extent are mentorship programs and other induction practices being used in Alberta schools and how effective are they?
  3. How do working conditions and school cultures affect early-career professional development?

In addition to tracking overall trends, the study offers a unique glimpse into the lived experiences of the early-career teachers who have shared their stories with the research team over the past five years. The study suggests that beginning teachers embark on teaching with enthusiasm and hope and look forward to a fruitful career that will enable them to make a positive impact on the lives of students. Although certain experiences dampened their expectations over the five years during which they were teachers, participants remained committed to the profession and to enhancing students’ lives. The study highlights the intense early years of practice. The Association is hopeful that this study will encourage education partners to work together in supporting the early career development of Alberta teachers. For further information please see (attach link).

Sample Mentorship ProgramTop of page

The purpose of a mentorship program is to help beginning teachers become acculturated to the profession and grow professionally. As such, it is intended to supplement rather than to replace other programs that may be in place to assist beginning teachers.


Mentoring -  Mentoring is the complex developmental process that mentors use to support and guide their protégé through the necessary transitions that are part of learning how to be effective educators and career-long learners (Sweeny 2008).

Mentor - The title and staus given to a person who assumes the primary responsibility for providing mentoring. Mentors are the more experienced and frequently more senior people who work in a similiar location and have a similar level of job responsibility as their protégés (Sweeny 2008).

Protégé - A beginning or new educator who works with a mentor (Sweeny 2008).

  • help school districts ensure high-quality teaching, improve student achievement and enhance the well-being of staff
  • provide a unique opportunity for experienced teachers to impart some of their knowledge, experience and wisdom to beginning teachers
  • recognize teachers as a valued resource
  • help school districts attract and retain high-quality teachers
  • encourage ATA locals, school districts, regional professional development consortia and Alberta universities to work together to foster ongoing professional growth and development for teachers
  • help beginning teachers attain the level of performance outlined in Alberta's Teaching Quality Standard
  • enhance teaching practice and student learning
  • provide experienced teachers with opportunities for professional growth and leadership
  • provide opportunities for collegial sharing and reflective practice
  • promote the professional and personal well-being of beginning teachers
  • accelerate the transmission of school and district culture

Using such strategies as collegial support, reflective practice and collaborative learning, the proposed program will provide mentors and protégés with opportunities for professional growth and development. Protégés participate in workshops, which focus on such topics as classroom management, instructional planning, communication strategies with parents, professional growth plans, mastering new curricula, meeting the needs of individual students and assessing students. Furthermore, mentors receive training and professional development to assist them in developing the necessary skills to mentor.

Roles and Responsibilities

To be implemented successfully, the mentorship program requires the commitment and support of personnel at all levels.

The district, the local and the provincial ATA have the following responsibilities:

  • establish a Mentorship Steering Committee
  • organize informational meetings for principals and for beginning and experienced teachers interested in participating in the program
  • contribute financial resources to support the program
  • identify the criteria for selecting mentors
  • match mentors and protégés
  • deliver the inservice component of the program, which may include the following events:
    —an orientation meeting for all participants, including principals
    —workshops, seminars and callback sessions
    —an evaluation and wrap-up session for all participants
    —continuous program monitoring and evaluation

Principals are responsible for reviewing and approving individual professional growth plans for all staff and for evaluating beginning teachers. Principals who have staff involved in a mentorship program have these added responsibilities:

  • recruit mentors who meet the identified criteria
  • facilitate professional growth planning for mentors and protégés
  • arrange release time for mentors and protégés to meet regularly and participate in observation and feedback activities
  • arrange release time for mentors and protégés to participate in large-group sessions

Potential mentors should meet the criteria developed by the Mentorship Steering Committee; criteria usually specify that the mentor has

  • obtained a nomination from their principal
  • a continuing contract with the district and possess a permanent teaching certificate
  • a demonstrated commitment to professional growth
  • successfully taught 3 years for the district
  • demonstrated a willingness to participate in training and in professional development activities with a protégé

Mentors have the following responsibilities:

  • help the protégé acculturate to the school and the district
  • work with the protégé to prepare and implement a mentorship program action plan
  • maintain a relationship with the protégé consistent with the standards set out in the Code of Professional Conduct
  • demonstrate effective teaching strategies
  • observe and provide feedback to the protégé
  • assist the protégé in identifying personal strengths and planning for further professional growth
  • assist the protégé with curriculum and instructional planning

Protégés have the following responsibilities:

  • work with the mentor to prepare and implement a mentorship program action plan
  • maintain a relationship with the mentor consistent with the standards set out in the Code of Professional Conduct
Other Considerations

Locals and jurisdictions setting up mentorship programs are encouraged to draw on other resources, such as Association workshops and research, to help facilitate portions of the program and to train mentors.


The Mentorship Steering Committee should begin meeting as early as possible, preferably in the final 2 months of the school year prior to the one in which the program is to be implemented. A suggested timeline for key activities follows:

April-May The ATA identifies key contacts
May-June The Mentorship Steering Committee for the jurisdiction starts planning the program
June Principals are informed about the program
June-September Mentors and protégés are identified
October-April Mentors and protégés are trained and given opportunities to implement mentorship action plan
December-April Callback sessions, workshops and seminars are held
May  Program evaluation, wrap-up and celebration activities
Ongoing The participant Mentorship Steering Committee meets as needed

Mentorship Steering Committee: Sample Frame of ReferenceTop of page

  1. Name

    The name of this committee shall be the Mentorship Steering Committee of the teachers of [insert name of school jurisdiction] and [insert name and number of ATA local].

  2. Objectives

    The Mentorship Steering Committee shall assume general responsibility for organizing mentorship/protégé activities in the jurisdiction and local. These activities will be undertaken in accordance with policies of the provincial association and the constitution of the [insert name and number of ATA Local].

  3. Program Goals
    1. support development of the knowledge, skills and attributes needed by teachers new to the profession to be successful in their teaching positions
    2. transmit the culture of the school, school system and teaching profession to teachers new to the profession
    3. provide an opportunity for teachers new to the profession to analyze and reflect on their teaching with mentoring from experienced teachers
    4. give beginning and inexperienced teachers a foundation on which to continue their study of teaching
    5. promote the personal and professional well-being of teachers of [insert name of school jurisdiction]
    6. instill in participating teachers the knowledge and skills of effective mentoring
    7. improve the teaching performance of participating mentors, protégé and administrators
  4. Membership and Responsibilities
    1. The Mentorship Steering Committee shall consist of the following voting members:
      1. mentor teacher representative(s) (from elementary and secondary)
      2. central office representative(s)
      3. school administrator(s)
      4. member of the ATA local executive
      5. member(s) of the local PD committee
      6. protégé teacher representative(s) (from elementary and secondary)
    2. Members of the Mentorship Steering Committee may carry out the following activities:
      1. organize and promote the mentorship program
      2. disseminate information about the mentorship/protégé activities to all stakeholders
      3. recruit and match mentors and protégés
      4. hold an orientation meeting for mentors and protégés
      5. attend all meetings of the Mentorship Steering Committee
      6. elect annually from among themselves a chair and a secretary, who shall be known as the "officers" of the committee (such elections to conform to the provisions of the local constitution)
      7. establish guidelines and procedures for disbursing funds
      8. set an annual budget and ensure that funds are distributed according to established procedures
      9. hold an orientation meeting for administrators
      10. review policies, documents and the committee frame of reference regularly
      11. moniter and evaluate the program by seeking feedback from all stakeholders throughout the year
      12. work cooperatively with the committees of the [insert name of the ATA local]
  5. Duties of the Officers
    1. The chair shall carry out the following duties:
      1. prepare and circulate an agenda for each meeting
      2. chair meetings of the Mentorship Steering Committee meetings
      3. speak for the Mentorship Steering Committee in communicating with the general membership
      4. provide leadership in planning, implementing monitoring and evaluating the mentorship program
    2. The secretary shall carry out the following duties:
      1. keep accurate records of all mentorship meetings
      2. perform such other internal communications functions as may be assigned from time to time
  6. Term of Office
    1. All ATA committee members are deemed to be elected (as per the local constitution).
    2. Board, central office and administration representatives are appointed annually.
  7. Subcommittees

    The Mentorship Steering Committee shall establish subcommittees from time to time as required.

  8. Emergency Replacements

    Vacancies in any office or subcommittee shall be filled at the next properly called meeting of the Mentorship Steering Committee.

  9. Meetings of the Mentorship Committee
    1. The Mentorship Steering Committee shall meet a minimum of 3 times annually. Subcommittees shall meet as necessary.
    2. Notice of Intent to hold a regular and/or emergent meeting shall be given to members as soon as possible.
    3. It is the duty of each member of the Mentorship Steering Committee to attend meetings for the purposes of reporting and communicating.
  10. Quorum

    Two-thirds of the members of the Mentorship Steering Committee shall constitute a quorum.

  11. Rules of Procedure

    Consensus and collaboration will be used in the procedures of meetings. Parliamentary procedures will be used as needed.

  12. Finances
    1. The mentorship program will be jointly funded annually by the local, the board and the provincial ATA.
    2. The Mentorship Steering Committee shall prepare and submit an annual budget to the local and the board.
    3. Expenses will be paid according to guidelines developed by the Mentorship Steering Committee.
  13. Amendments to Terms of Reference

    Amendments to this frame of reference shall be made in accordance with the following procedure:

    1. Notice of motion of intent to amend shall be given at a preceding Mentorship Steering Committee meeting.
    2. Except where time is of the essence, the written text of proposed amendments shall be provided in writing to members before the meeting.
    3. The amendment shall be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Mentorship Steering Committee members.
    4. The amendment shall be approved by the partners.
Suggested Expense Guidelines


  1. Funding will be provided for first- and second-year pairings.
  2. Mileage to initial and callback meetings will be paid at local council rates.
  3. Mentor and protégé costs shall be reimbursed as follows:
    1. substitute costs to a maximum of 3 days or
    2. an amount equal to that in 3(a) above for
      1. mileage
      2. meals
      3. conference expenses not covered by other sources
      4. professional literature

Mentorship Steering Committee

Funding will be provided for the costs of committee meetings as follows:

  1. mileage for committee members, not including board and central office
  2. meals
  3. speaker expenses
  4. gifts and gratuities
  5. office expenses
  6. miscellaneous expenses approved by the Mentorship Steering Committee