3 Mentoring: what’s in it for me?
Mentoring is often seen to have a valuable role in teachers’ own professional development. A mentor’s knowledge and expertise provides a wealth of opportunities for beginner teachers to learn from throughout their early careers (HMIE Scotland, 2008) and, as was seen in Week 2, it is a two-way process where students learn from mentors and mentors learn from their students. Mentoring requires making overt what up to now has been tacit knowledge, and understanding of the way that the classroom works and the teacher within it. Mentors come to a fuller understanding of their own expertise, which in turn gives the mentor confidence as they work with the beginner teacher in school and in their wider roles within school and across schools.
As a mentor, continuing professional development (CPD) and networking opportunities are part and parcel of the role. Mentoring often extends beyond the school gates, and affords opportunities for collaboration with external stakeholders and other institutions and individuals. Mentors will often collaborate with other schools, allowing for cross-pollination of expertise and support. Mentoring can also heighten one’s own reflective stance and practices through observation and discussion. It can also be an opportunity to further your own career development and create more extensive networks, as seen in the example below. Mentors help the beginner teacher to understand and use research to innovate in their teaching, and potentially collaborate in action-research projects in their school and beyond through collaboration with partner institutions.
Activity 4 Reflecting on your own mentoring practice
Watch the video from Rhian’s school, noting her strengths with regard to mentoring, and then revisit your areas of strength in regard to mentoring by completing Task 2.
In Week 1, you made an assessment of your personal areas of strength and where you may need to develop. Now you have watched the videos above and have worked through the rest of the course, you may have changed your self-assessment. Reflect again on the different elements of a mentor’s role and adjust your assessments as necessary. Consider what you might do to continue to develop your learning and skills in each area.
Not very strong
|What might I do to continue to develop my learning and skills in this area?|
|I can act as a positive role model.|
|I am able to enthuse a beginner teacher in relation to the content to be taught.|
|I can help beginner teachers to understand the school context and how this affects practice.|
|I recognise when I need to draw on the expertise of other colleagues to support the beginner teacher’s needs.|
|I am open to professional learning opportunities, including exploring research.|
|Through my mentoring, I am able to develop my beginner teacher’s quality and depth of reflection.|
|I set SMART targets to support my beginner teacher to progress and to meet professional standards.|
|I understand how to assess my beginner teacher’s progress effectively and accurately.|
|I use observation of my beginner teacher’s practice to provide helpful feedback to enhance their pedagogical learning.|
|I facilitate a range of development experiences across the school to support my beginner teacher’s practice needs.|
|I am familiar with my beginner teacher’s ITE or induction programme design, requirements and assessment methods.|
|I plan specific opportunities and methods to provide support and challenge for my beginner teacher.|
Think of three points explored in this course that have had – or will have – the greatest impact on your own understanding and practice. Note down these three points in the box below.
You will have strengths to bring to the role of mentor, and areas that you need to develop. Sometimes it may feel that you could promote reflection and listen better if you only had the time. So perhaps that is a conversation that needs to be had with the leadership team at your school. However, mentoring is and will always be a rewarding role, and well worth the time and effort you put in to being the best mentor you can.