1.1 Mentoring relationships: growth as a mentor
How might the challenge and support you offer as a mentor change at the different stages of a beginner teacher’s journey, ensuring their continued growth as demonstrated in Figure 2? How might the ideas in Figure 2 also help you to continue to grow as a mentor? Who might support and challenge you? How might having beginner teachers and mentors at different stages of their development – for example, a mentor at the familiarisation stage with a beginner teacher who is ready for autonomy – impact the relationship?
Haggar and McIntyre (2006) argue that in a mentoring relationship, beginner teachers may not:
- recognise what they need to learn
- ask for ideas or information
- understand how they can apply ideas observed in experienced teachers’ practice to their own teaching.
In turn, experienced teachers may take their ‘tacit and intuitive expertise’ for granted and not draw attention to what the beginner teacher needs to know. This may mean time is not given to important aspects, such as sharing thinking about complex planning and teaching decisions. It is true that beginner teachers often want quick solutions to problems, but mentors must supply the support and challenge that will allow beginner teachers to understand the complex nature of teaching. The mentor’s role is to ask the questions that allow the beginner teacher to relate the specific contexts observed and the teachers’ reasoning for their decisions, building an understanding of the teachers’ craft knowledge. This will be explored further in Week 3. Discussing the reasoning behind decision-making can be difficult at first because of the tacit and intuitive nature of these decisions, but the benefits of focused discussion in supporting beginner teachers’ understanding and in developing autonomy cannot be overstated.
Activity 2 Symbiotic relationships
Watch the short audio clip of Kellie talking about the symbiotic relationship between mentor and mentee.
Reflect on what it means to grow as a mentor. How much does working with your beginner contribute to that growth? What else will help you to grow as a mentor?
Write a reflective piece on what has helped or may help you grow as a mentor in the box below. Consider sharing your ideas with a fellow mentor or someone who has mentored you and asking them if they feel the same.
Several authors have developed theories which apply to mentoring, and which will help you reflect on the relationship you have with your beginner teacher as they grow in the profession. The next section will discuss these theories.