K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.


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Teaching can be a lonely profession — one where the adults close their doors and rarely talk with one another. This leaves teachers to solve their problems on their own. But new teachers can’t solve all their own problems. You need help from mentors, colleagues, administrators, and friends.

If you’re lucky, you already have support from all those people. But if you don’t, or you need more help or a different kind of help, then you need to take charge of things and build your own support network.

Build a support network

A support network is a group of colleagues who provide guidance and assistance to one another throughout their careers. By designing your own support network, you can tailor it to suit your needs. For some teachers, a support network means a weekly meeting to exchange lesson plan ideas; for others, it involves stopping by a neighboring teacher’s classroom as needed.

This series of articles introduces you to the idea of a support network and gives you questions to ask yourself about your needs. Next, you’ll find stories of real teachers who found support in challenging situations, began their careers with an excellent support network, and met with other beginning teachers on a regular basis. Further articles will point you to sources of professional support on the Web.

Working with mentors

Even if you have a great mentor, this series of articles can help you get the most out of the relationship. Written by beginning teachers, mentors, mentor coordinators, and UNC-Chapel Hill’s Mentor Teacher in Residence, the articles will help you see the mentoring process from all sides.