The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Classroom to classroom

English Department Lead Monica Jariwala prepares to become a New Teacher Mentor for FUHSD
Alyssa Yang
Jariwala is currently teaching in the classroom while preparing to become a Teacher Mentor next year.

After 16 years of teaching, English Department Lead and English teacher Monica Jariwala will leave the classroom for the next three years to become a New Teacher Mentor for FUHSD. In her new role, Jariwala will guide teachers who are new to the district to work effectively within FUHSD. 

Currently, FUHSD runs its New Teacher Induction Program to fulfill California’s teacher credentialing system requirement for public schools. The program leads newly hired teachers through a two-year program where they receive one-on-one support from teacher mentors. Jariwala says her experience being a new teacher at different schools played a role in her decision to apply for and join the New Teacher Induction Program. 

“Being a teacher mentor would require me to be outside of the classroom, and leaving my students was always really, really hard for me to think about,” Jariwala said. “But after having been Department Lead this year and working with my colleagues, I wanted to work more with adults and support new teachers coming in, just because I remember being a new teacher four times at four different schools and how important it was to have a really, really good mentor.”

FUHSD Director of Leadership Development Josh Maisel is in charge of overseeing the New Teacher Induction program, which includes teacher mentor training, recruitment and hiring. He says the application process is extensive, with the process starting in January, when applicants submit their resumes. After receiving the submissions, the Lead Mentor, another FUHSD teacher, will outline the rest of the timeline to the teacher applicants, while Maisel talks to their references. Applicants also participate in a performance task which often spans three to four hours where they provide feedback on sample lesson plans. 

The last step in the process is a two-part interview. On the first day, a selection panel composed of teachers and administrators conducts a traditional interview. On the second, the applicants participate in a roleplay scenario, where they discuss the lesson plan they’d previously critiqued with panelists pretending to be new teachers.

Jariwala agrees with Maisel that the application process is rigorous, but says that applying to become a Teacher Mentor was also a learning experience. She adds that the comprehensiveness of the application process helps applicants get a sense of what the mentor role entails. 

The program is the mentors. They are at the heart of all that we do.

— Josh Maisel

“It’s not just someone coming to you with an issue and boom, you give them the answer, but listening and understanding the problem,” Jariwala said. “It was getting me to think about how I would do the role next year and things that I want to continue to learn. So I think it was a good thing for all the candidates to think about being in the role and what it entails and then how we would actually do that role next year.”

According to Maisel, the rigor of the process coaches successful applicants on how to teach other teachers. Unlike in a regular classroom, teacher mentors will not focus on subject-specific topics, but rather on general teaching strategies and skills. For example, although Jariwala is an English teacher, she will be mentoring teachers from various subjects. Likewise, mentors help new teachers become more familiar with their campus and FUHSD interfaces such as Schoology and Infinite Campus. 

“The program is the mentors,” Maisel said. “They are at the heart of all that we do. The vast majority of our program is induction to FUHSD — new teachers are required to have one hour a week. And then for teachers that aren’t in induction, it’s up to them, but it’s one-on-one support from a mentor. That means they meet with you just to talk about everything so it could be an interaction with a student that didn’t go well or struggling to figure out how to test a certain thing or to deliver a certain concept.”

Biology and Health teacher Pooya Hajjarian, who was a New Teacher Mentor for three years and returned to teaching at MVHS this year, says his experience as a teacher mentor helped him both personally and professionally. Because he did not have a rigid structure to stick with, Hajjarian says he learned how to take better care of himself. 

Additionally, for Hajjarian, the opportunity to work with teachers who came from different backgrounds and had different experiences was a unique and insightful experience. While he says he is glad to return to the classroom and interact more with students again, he says he will miss the community he built with the other Teacher Mentors and coaching team.

“I still get to experience being a mentor now, while I have a student teacher,” Hajjarian said. “What I do miss about being a New Teacher Mentor is the team meetings and the camaraderie that we had on our team. It is so high functioning and close — teams are meeting every week, we’re talking every week, we’re constantly communicating with each other whether it’s text or email about this situation, I need some advice, etc. And so that constant support from a group of people that I just considered such incredible educational heavy hitters is something that I miss.”

Hajjarian says he is excited for Jariwala to join the community he was a part of. 

I’m excited to have a new role to learn and grow from because I think that’s what makes us stronger — we’re not necessarily doing one thing, but we’re putting our feet in and dabbling to continue to improve.

— Monica Jariwala

“I’m so happy for Ms. Jariwala — I think she’s perfect for the position,” Hajjarian said. “I think she’s prepared for it. I can’t wait to hear from her how much she’s enjoying that position.”

Besides the professional coaching, Hajjarian says being a New Teacher Mentor also allows teachers to have time to reflect on their own teaching skills to improve on when they eventually return to the classroom.

“This position also gave me a few years to step away from teaching and to really take a look at my own teaching,” Hajjarian said. “Like, ‘What are the things that we’re working on? What are my strengths and what are the areas of improvement that I need to work on?’”

Currently, Jariwala is teaching at MVHS while preparing to transition to her new role at the district by meeting with other teachers and participating in training days. Ultimately, Jariwala says she looks forward to becoming a Teacher Mentor and the chance to try something new, outside of the role she’s occupied for over a decade. 

“I think it’s going to be a really good opportunity,” Jariwala said. “I am definitely going to miss this and I’ll be coming back. But I’m excited to have a new role to learn and grow from because I think that’s what makes us stronger — we’re not necessarily doing one thing, but we’re putting our feet in and dabbling to continue to improve. So I’m really hoping that this will also continue to help me grow as a teacher.” 

About the Contributors
Sarah Liu
Sarah Liu, Managing Editor
Sarah is currently a senior and a Managing Editor for El Estoque. In her free time, she enjoys trying new foods, playing the NYT crossword and making fruit dessert recipes.
Alyssa Yang
Alyssa Yang, News Editor
Alyssa is currently a junior and a News Editor for El Estoque. When she isn't in a dance studio (which isn't often) she loves traveling, assembling modeling kits and playing too many crosswords.
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