Mentorship Program for Low Incidence Practitioners
Since 2004, The MN Low Incidence Projects and the MN Department of Education has provided statewide professional mentorship programs for special educators new to low incidence special education, including technical assistance, staff development and resources. Currently, the MN Department of Education provides mentorship support and assistance for a number of low incidence areas in special education.
Why Professional Mentorship?
The loss of qualified special education teachers is a significant barrier to ensuring that the federal mandate of a free, appropriate public education is provided to all of Minnesota’s students identified for special education. Teachers are particularly vulnerable to attrition early in their careers or when making major changes in their assignments.
Research suggests that participation in well-designed and well-implemented professional mentoring programs can provide educators with the kinds of information, support, and connection to professional communities that may strengthen the start or continuation of their careers.
Unique Needs of Low Incidence Educators
Many schools and districts throughout the state currently run successful mentorship programs, providing educators with assistance of a generalized nature. Practitioners in low incidence disability areas can benefit from such opportunities. However, they also have very specific and unique needs that require the assistance of educators who are experts in their same fields.
Some unique professional needs may include: acquiring highly specialized knowledge and skills to serve their students; locating disability-specific resources and equipment; and adjusting to the isolation of working in a low incidence field, particularly in the rural areas of the state. It is for these kinds of needs that Minnesota’s mentorship programs for special educators new to low incidence disability areas were designed.