- January 25, 2023
A growing body of evidence suggests that the clinical experience is the most impactful component of a teacher candidate’s preparation program. Teacher residencies, which feature a full-year, school-based clinical experience, are growing in number. Several states are moving toward adopting the teacher residency model as their teacher preparation approach of choice. A key factor in the success of the clinical experience is the quality of the match between the teacher candidate and their mentor teacher. Research suggests that teacher candidates paired with mentor teachers with strong instructional and mentoring skills and with whom they are compatible are more likely to be effective teachers and stay in the teaching profession longer. This report uses a review of the literature on matching teacher candidates with mentor teachers and interviews with a convenience sample of five West Virginia educator preparation programs and three teacher residency programs from across the country to summarize and synthesize current theory and practice on making this match. The report also examines the closely related processes of selecting candidates’ placement schools and identifying teachers to serve as mentors. The report highlights best practices and makes several recommendations for improving the matching process in West Virginia’s educator preparation programs.