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

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2.1 Mentoring relationships

The relationship between mentor and student teacher is complex and demanding (Maldrez et al., 2007). However, it is clear, from the audio you listened to in Activity 1, that it can have an impact on student teacher outcomes.

The working relationship between the student teacher and mentor needs careful consideration. The mentor must avoid patronising the student teacher and should be sensitive to their adult status. Conversations between two adults, where one is the teacher and the other the student teacher, can be uncomfortable and non-productive unless both participants feel that their contributions are valued.

This can particularly be the case if the student teacher has had previous experience of other school contexts or alternative approaches to subject pedagogy. Appreciating this and understanding what the student teacher is learning on their ITE course can provide a starting point for discussion.

As with any effective teaching, understanding where the student is coming from is important. Good mentors explore the assumptions, values and beliefs held by the student through questioning and keeping dialogue open to differences of opinion. Such questioning helps to establish a productive climate in which critical reflection and valuable learning can take place.