The mentor and mentee planning and reflecting conversations are instrumental in moving a teacher’s practice forward. This podcast illustrates a dialogue between a mentor and a second year teacher in preparing for the school year to begin. The conference is based on establishing rules and procedures for the beginning of the year. The dialogue centers around the differences between rules and procedures. This is one part of a longer conversation.
Mentors will listen to the conversation focusing on mentor language used to prompt thinking from the novice teacher. They will look for mentor stances within the segment.
- Instructional- the mentor is leading or guiding the interactions and the information is flowing from mentor to novice teacher
- Collaborative- the mentor and novice teacher are co-creating knowledge and determining next steps. Information is flowing between both.
- Facilitative- the novice teacher is leading or directing the conversation. The flow of information is directed by the mentee and the mentor facilitates thinking through questioning
Mentors will reflect individually once listening to the podcast and reflect on the next steps if they were the mentor in the conversation. They will bring their reflection and next steps to the next seminar and then share with fellow mentors.
Finally, mentors will record and develop a podcast of their own conference with a novice teacher. They will post this to the cohort blog with guiding questions they would like addressed by their colleagues. Mentors will listen and comment on each others conferences.
This activity builds mentors ability to use mentor language as their default language, as well as consider their mentor stances in the moment. This is important in building autonomous teachers who reflect as well as accessing entry points in order to continue to move practice forward.
This activity can be completed multiple times throughout the year in order to continue to develop mentors coaching skills as new strategies are introduced.
Mentors need to keep accurate records and documentation on their mentees. Evernote not only allows mentors to organize their forms and tools into notebooks, it allows them to record and collect much more.
This Evernote video clip demonstrates how mentors can set up a notebook for each of their mentees with a table of contents that links to each individual page.
The video clip demonstrates the following:
- Creating a notebook
- Adding a note
- Inserting a picture
- Inserting an audio clip
- Inserting a PDF
- Linking pages for a Table of Contents
This is one video in a series based on Evernote. Each video will be sent out to mentors as an instructional tool to set up their documentation system. Mentors will be able to share folders with their mentees allowing them to access and review the information first hand alongside their mentor.
Mentors will be expected to maintain thorough records in Evernote once they have completed the instructional video format.
Additionally, mentors will use Evernote to set up training notebooks where they collect and organize information on a specific topic for a Beginning Teacher Professional Learning Community. Mentors will be able to share the folders with the whole cohort so that all members can access it and add as well. We will also be able to add complete files and share with the cohort.
Finally, mentors will be able to access Evernote’s sister companies, Skitch and Penultimate. Skitch will allow them to write over PDF’s and other documents. It saves your notes in Evernote within its own notebook. Penultimate is a drawing component that will allow mentors to brainstorm or draw seating arrangements in order to collect data such as verbal responses or teacher movement.
Be sure to keep checking the blog for new and updated Evernote video demonstrations for mentors.
One of the most important aspects of being a mentor is embracing the coaching cycle. To build the most effective and reflective teachers, they should go through the following steps: co- plan, observe/co-teach, provide feedback and guide their teachers to reflect on practice to help them gain ownership of their new learning and increase long-term implementation in the classroom. The observation/co-teaching cycle is an opportunity for mentors to build strong partnerships and relationships with their teachers to ensure their teachers are following best practices as well as gathering data of future possible entry points to help their teachers reflect on. Additionally, providing feedback is integral in the learning process and building autonomy. They will have a deeper understanding of their practice if mentors use mentor language to facilitate the thinking of the beginning teacher. Mentors must paraphrase, probe, clarify, and use meditational questions to guide a mentee to a cognitive shift.
Saturday, new mentors attended the Foundational training for mentors.
Mentor development starts with professional development specific to the nuances of this role, adult learning and novice teacher needs. One of the main components discussed is the mentor/ mentee relationship. Building a relationship based on trust is essential to constructing an environment where new teachers feel safe and open to sharing and reflecting on their practice.
Bob and Megan Tschannen- Moran identify Five Facets of Trust in their book, Evocative Coaching, Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time.
- Benevolence- the mentor must be sincere in caring about the beginning teacher’s growth and improvement.
- Honesty- a mentor needs to be honest in their interactions and with feedback.
- Openness- when mentor’s are willing to share their weaknesses along with their strengths it establishes commonalities and let’s the novice teacher know they are not alone.
- Reliability- mentor’s should follow through on actions and agreements with their mentee.
- Competence- mentor’s need to have not only a strong content and pedagogy knowledge, but also a deep knowledge of coaching
When full-release mentors first leave their classrooms and embark on this new leadership journey, they are full of anticipation at being a positive influence in 10- 15 new teachers lives and in turn 100’s of student’s lives every year. Even with this excitement there is still a level of trepidation… they were master teachers and now they are unsure of how every detail plays out. Every teacher has different needs and styles, teaches different content and grade levels, administrators want to see results, teachers are stressed and mentors are supposed to juggle all these flaming batons and simultaneously ensure that student needs are being met. Anticipation quickly turns to Survival and Disillusionment without supports in place, similar to Ellen Moir’s diagram of The Phases of a First Year Teacher.
New mentors need:
- Professional development on the role of the mentor, coaching and observation, giving feedback, analyzing student work and differentiated lesson planning.
- Practice having coaching conversations with colleagues; opportunities to share problems of practice
- “Critical friend” feedback from colleagues in an area the mentor specifies via shadowing, video, or analyzing a case of practice with tools.
- Observation and feedback of practice by someone with expertise in coaching.
While mentors are supporting teachers through that roller coaster 1st year we must remember to support mentors in the process as well.