Meet Arias Williams (he/him), a biology teacher at Santee Education Complex, who also serves as a mentor in the Partnership’s teacher residency program with the Alder Graduate School of Education. We spoke recently about his experience as a teacher mentor and his commitment to assisting new educators in honing their skills. Read more below.
Arias first learned about the Partnership through the teacher residency program, which is specifically intended to invest in new teachers of color in high-need schools. The innovative program seamlessly combines immersive, hands-on practice in the classroom with educational theory and research. While he was not an Alder resident himself, he attended seminars aimed at supporting new teachers during his own student-teaching experience.
Residents are assigned to Partnership schools and paired with a mentor teacher with whom they will co-teach and learn from throughout the year. “The program benefits new teachers and students by providing the crucial advantage of having a second adult in the classroom, particularly important in large LA Unified classrooms with diverse student needs,” he says.
As a mentor, Arias believes the co-teacher model effectively prepares residents for real classroom experiences, offering a hands-on approach. “Being present throughout the year allows residents to witness the entire spectrum of teaching, from class culture to parent conferences, and more,” he says. This comprehensive exposure to teaching motivates Arias to support residents by modeling best practices, explaining instructional decisions, and helping them develop confidence in the classroom.
Being a mentor has also significantly enhanced Arias’ teaching career by pushing him to be a better educator. “Knowing that I’m setting an example for someone else makes me strive for excellence and continuously improve,” he says. It also encourages him to reflect on his teaching methods and the influence they have on the next generation of teachers. Additionally, Arias has gained valuable insights from the residents he mentors, as they also bring new practices and stay updated on technology. He believes the experience is a mutually beneficial exchange.