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What is a Mentor

What is a Coach




In 1998, in response to the growing number of new science teachers in local schools and mindful of how difficult it is to retain new teachers, the Teacher Institute created the Teacher Induction Program. The program is designed to support new science teachers in their first two years of teaching (the Beginning Teacher Program) and to train mentors and classroom coaches to work with the new teachers (the Leadership Program). It’s an alarming fact that more than a third of beginning teachers leave the profession within the first few years. Research indicates that the single most effective way to prevent this exodus is by supporting the beginning teacher in those early years of in the profession.

The Leadership Program

The Exploratorium Leadership Program is a two-year training and support program for alumni of the Teacher Institute who take on the responsibilities of mentoring and coaching novice science teachers in the Exploratorium Beginning Teacher Program.  The program includes participation in a 4-week summer Leadership Institute at the Exploratorium. 

The goal of the Leadership Program is to train a group of veteran science teachers to apprentice the novice teachers and induct them into the strategies for teaching science using exploration and inquiry. These veterans can choose to work as mentors or coaches. Another equally important objective of the program is to provide our most experienced alumni with opportunities to develop their own leadership skills.  The skills they learn in our program not only help the beginning science teachers in the two-year induction program, but these skills are transferable to helping novice science teachers the schools and districts in which they work.

Applying To The Program

Are you an active Teacher Institute alumnus interested in supporting local beginning science teachers?  Do you have at least 5 years of science teaching experience?  Would you like to become a mentor or a classroom coach?

For an application for the Leadership Program, contact Modesto Tamez at or Tammy Cook-Endres at for more information.


What Is A Mentor?

Mentors are currently employed science teachers who are available after school and on weekends.  Mentors induct novices into the Teacher Institute, directing them to Exploratorium science teaching resources that will best meet their needs.  Mentors also lead special workshops for novices on the generic challenges of teaching (e.g. classroom management, discipline, and parental involvement), but in the context of inquiry-based science teaching.  For example, a workshop on “Classroom Management” might include specific strategies for distributing hands-on science materials in ways that retain the attention of the students.

What Is A Coach?

Coaches are either retired from teaching or are currently on-leave from their regular assignments. Coaches induct novices into the science teaching profession. They help novices develop specific strategies and techniques of effective inquiry-based teaching and learning.  The primary role of the coach is to go to the classrooms of the novices and model lessons, provide one-on-one support as novices try inquiry-based activities and lessons, and help novices reflect on their practice with the goal of improving their pedagogical content knowledge.
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