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Learning to teach: mentoring and tutoring student teachers
Learning to teach: mentoring and tutoring student teachers

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2 Mentor role

The mentor has a crucial role in Initial Teacher Education. Essentially, the mentor’s responsibilities for a student teacher are to:

  • act as a positive role model
  • enthuse the student teacher about their subject and subject pedagogy so that student teachers, in turn, will contribute to enthusing pupils of all abilities, aptitudes and backgrounds to want to learn, enjoy and achieve
  • help the student teacher to understand something about the context of the school and how this affects practice
  • help the student teacher to develop in a planned way using an appropriate balance of support and challenge determined by the student teacher’s progress
  • be familiar with the aims and expectations of the ITE curriculum
  • understand how to assess the student teacher’s progress and be able to do this accurately
  • set the student teacher SMART targets in relation to the ITE professional standards/competencies and the course requirements
  • facilitate the student teacher’s links with colleagues and professional development opportunities beyond the student teacher’s subject area.

Activity 1: Characteristics of an effective mentor

Timing: Time: 10 minutes

Listen to the audio below and note down the key characteristics of an effective mentor, as described by the teachers and student teachers. Do you agree with their views? Would you add anything to your list?

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Despite the mentoring model being commonly used in schools involved with Initial Teacher Education, Maldrez et al. (2007) found considerable variation in mentors’ understanding of their role which we will now go on to explore in more depth.