A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

Contributed by:
Sharp Tutor
This material will enable you to deepen your thinking about what an effective mentoring relationship entails. It is designed to be used not only for the Teacher Mentor Support Program aimed at supporting beginning teachers but also as an accessible resource for use in schools to enhance mentoring for all staff members.
1. A Learning Guide
for Teacher Mentors
2. Published by Teacher and Education
Support Development Unit
School Improvement Division
Office for Government School Education
Department of Education and Early Childhood
Treasury Place, East Melbourne Victoria 3002
February 2010
© State of Victoria (Department of Education and Early
Childhood Development) 2010
The copyright in this document is owned by the State of
Victoria (Department of Education and Early Childhood
Development), or in the case of some materials, by
third parties (third party materials). No part may be
reproduced by any process except in accordance with
the provisions of the Copyright Act 1968, the National
Education Access Licence for Schools (NEALS) (see
below) or with permission.
An educational institution situated in
Australia which is not conducted for profit, or
a body responsible for administering such an
institution, may copy and communicate the materials,
other than third party materials, for the educational
purposes of the institution.
Authorised by the Department of Education and
Early Childhood Development, 2 Treasury Place,
East Melbourne, Victoria 3002.
ISBN 978-0-7594-0574-5
3. Contents Preface ii
Part A: Day 1 learning guide
1. Building the relationship with a beginning teacher 1
2. Key mentoring skills for classroom observations 4
Active listening 4
Observation 6
Reflective conversations 9
Giving and receiving feedback 12
3. Day 1 resources and further reading 14
A. Mentoring in the new millennium 14
B. What is mentoring? 20
C. Reflective conversations 24
D. Seven norms of collaboration 25
E. Three types of feedback 26
F. Receiving feedback protocol 26
G. Three phases of induction: what do beginning teachers need? 28
H. Understanding beginning teachers’ needs 29
Part B: Day 2 learning guide
4. Emotional intelligence – knowing myself better as a mentor 33
5. Professional conversations 36
6. Mentoring stages 37
7. What next? 39
8. Evaluating induction and mentoring 41
9. Day 2 resources and further reading 44
A. Emotional intelligence and emotional competences 44
B. Some examples of reflective questions 45
C. Dealing with difficult conversations 46
D. Principal perspectives on induction and mentoring 49
E. Case stories from the induction and mentoring evaluation 52
F. High-quality mentoring and induction practices 56
References and further readings 59
4. Part A
1 Exploring Wider Workforce
and Work Organisation initiatives
Part A: Day 1 learning guide
6. Preface Mentoring provides a powerful opportunity to improve students’ learning outcomes
through teachers learning with and from each other, making skills and experiences
‘I chose to be a mentor.
Mentoring is an important Mentoring enables teachers to reflect on their practice and to question what they do as
and rewarding role.’ they go about their teaching. As a means of collegial professional learning, mentoring
requires careful planning and effective implementation, so that it
becomes embedded into the culture of the school supported by design, not chance.
This material will enable you to deepen your thinking about what an effective
mentoring relationship entails.
It is designed to be used not only for the Teacher Mentor Support Program aimed at
supporting beginning teachers, but also as an accessible resource for use in schools to
enhance mentoring for all staff members.
ii A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors
7. 1. Building the relationship
with a beginning teacher
Who teachers are to one another Induction is important Structural elements
matters. In a sometimes lonely supporting the mentoring
It is essential that the beginning
profession, isolation within relationship
teacher receives a high level of support,
the individual egg cell crates especially in their first term in the school.
of a school does not promote Keep in mind that, at this stage, the
• Time allocation – as reduced
professional or personal growth. allotment, time for mentoring
beginning teacher may not be ready
activities and time for professional
Parallel play may socialise to be ‘mentored’ in terms of intensive
learning activities.
youngsters in sandboxes, professional dialogue.
but it limits learning for adults • A well-considered teaching load and
They do need a buddy to help with
class allocation, which takes into
orientation to the profession and the
(Garmston & Wellman 1999). account the beginning teacher’s
school and to help them plan. A buddy
experiences and needs.
may grow into the mentor, or the mentor
may be appointed who operates as a • The position of an induction and
buddy in the first term before extending mentor co-ordinator as a leadership
their role into mentoring in subsequent position in the school.
weeks. See ‘Three Phases of Induction’
• Regular and timetabled mentoring
on page 28 for more detail.
meetings on a weekly or fortnightly
Mentoring is a key strategy of basis.
induction. Mentoring is essentially a
• The mentor and beginning teacher
formalised relationship that supports
working in close physical proximity to
and encourages professional learning.
one another.
In mentoring, a sound and trusting
relationship will rely upon the degree • The mentor and beginning teacher
of understanding and responsibility teaching the same year or subject
shared by the mentoring partners. level.
The establishment of the relationship • Active support from the school
is crucial and will determine the level leadership for both the beginning
and quality of dialogue. Opportunities teacher and the mentor.
and time to get to know each other
come first, building the foundations for The DEECD Evaluation of the Induction
the development of the professional and Mentoring for Beginning Teacher
relationship. Initiative strongly reinforces these
points. Beginning teachers, mentors and
principals/school leaders were asked
what they thought were ‘the three key
attributes of an effective beginning
teacher mentor’. There was a remarkable
level of consistency of responses across
the three groups (see table 1).
Part A: Day 1 learning guide 1
8. Table 1: The three key attributes of an effective beginning teacher mentor, according
to beginning teachers, mentors and principals/school leaders
Beginning teachers Mentors Principals/school leaders
• approachable, • ability and willingness • effective listener
accessible, willing to listen • communication skills
to be engaged • empathy • build effective,
• supportive • supportive ‘trusted’, positive
• understanding • good communication working relationships
• good communication, skills • able to give honest
provides honest • experienced teacher constructive feedback
feedback • high-level teaching
• knowledge and and learning, skills/
experience (mainly curriculum knowledge
pedagogical, but also • seen as role model
subject matter) by all teachers
• willing to give time to
the beginning teacher
• empathy and patience
2 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors
9. Across all of these different perspectives, Schools have different approaches The e5 Instructional Model
a number of common elements of an to matching mentors with beginning
effective beginning teacher mentor teachers. When asked as part of the The e5 Instructional Model provides us
can be noted which, although neither evaluation, beginning teachers and with a framework to inform conversations
complete nor comprehensive, are clearly mentors have agreed that the processes and guide the observations, feedback
relevant to identifying potential mentors that led to the pairing of the mentor and and reflection of our classroom practice.
capable of building effective trustful beginning teacher are less significant This is an all‑important resource when
relationships with beginning teachers. in the overall effectiveness of the the beginning teacher is observing more
relationship than the motivation and experienced teachers or when the mentor
• Accessibility – being accessible to
quality of the mentor. That is, the primary is observing the beginning teacher. It
the beginning teacher; having time to
consideration is that the mentor is enables the mentor and the beginning
spend with them; being responsive to
motivated to be a mentor, enthusiastic teacher to think more deeply about the
their needs; having physical proximity
in the role, and possesses the attributes development of expertise in teaching
to the beginning teacher’s location in
of an effective mentor. If all else is equal across the five pedagogical domains of
the school.
between two potential mentors in terms engage, explore, explain, elaborate and
• Empathy – being understanding and of motivation, skills and experience, evaluate.
supportive; and being patient with an beginning teachers would say that
The use of the e5 Instructional Model,
inexperienced teacher’s questions and ‘access’ is the next most important
together with the Principles of Learning
uncertainty. What is crucially important distinguishing factor.
and Teaching and the VIT Standards for
in terms of empathy is whether the
As a mentor you can lead from wherever Professional Practice, will assist mentors
beginning teacher has actually felt
you stand. You are in the position of to undertake meaningful conversations
understood by their mentor.
empowering your beginning teacher about practice with their beginning
• Knowledge and experience – being to realise their ambitions of making a teachers.
an experienced teacher (although difference in the lives of their students.
not necessarily a long-serving or
Teaching can be seen as ‘a possibility
older teacher); having ideas on, and
to live into, not a standard to live up to’
strategies for, effective teaching (e.g.
(Ben Zander).1 You do not have to have
classroom management, planning
all the answers; posing questions which
and assessment, communication with
can be resolved by working and learning
students and parents); possessing
together is far more important:
relevant curriculum knowledge
(desirable but not essential); and Asking a question is the simplest
being a role model for teachers (and way of focusing thinking. Asking
acknowledged and respected as such
the right question may be the
by other teachers).
most important part of thinking
• Listening skills – willing to listen;
being reflective and sharing ideas; (Edward de Bono).2
and providing honest and constructive
feedback to the beginning teacher.
Part A: Day 1 learning guide 3
10. 2. Key mentoring skills for
classroom observations
Active listening Otto Scharmer (2007) describes four different types of listening after more than a
decade of observing people’s interactions in organisations:
Am I listening like I already know Listening 1: Downloading – ‘Yeah, I know that already’
or I already understand?
Scharmer says that this is listening by reconfirming habitual judgments. When you are
Your approach to listening will be in a situation where everything that happens confirms what you already know, you are
influenced by your prior experiences listening by downloading.
and the attitudes you have developed Listening 2: Factual – ‘Ooh, look at that!’
about listening – that is, both listening
to and being listened to. Learning to This type of listening is factual or object focused: listening by paying attention
listen to your beginning teacher is a to facts and to novel or disconcerting data. You switch off your inner voice of
key interpersonal skill in the mentoring judgment and listen to the voices right in front of you. You focus on what differs
relationship. Stephen R. Covey from what you already know. You ask questions and you pay careful attention to
(1986) believes that listening is an the responses you get.
important but often neglected part of Listening 3: Empathic – ‘Oh, yes I know exactly how you feel’
communication, maybe because
few of us have had any specific training This deeper level of listening is empathic listening. When we are engaged in real
in listening. dialogue and paying careful attention, we can become aware of a profound shift in the
place from which our listening originates. To really feel how another feels, we have
to have an open heart. Only an open heart gives us the empathic capacity to connect
directly with another person from within.
Listening 4: Generative
‘I can’t express what I experience in words. My whole being has slowed down. I feel
more quiet and present and more my real self. I am connected to something larger than
myself’ (Scharmer 2007: 2).
Scharmer defines generative listening as ‘listening from the emerging field of future
possibility. This level of listening requires us to access not only our open heart, but
also our open will’. According to Scharmer, when you listen at this fourth level, you
come to realise that, ‘at the end of the conversation, you are no longer the same
person you were when you started the conversation. You have gone through a subtle
but profound change’ (Scharmer 2007: 2).
Covey also talks about empathic listening, describing it as ‘listening and responding
with both heart and mind to understand the speaker’s words, intent and feelings’
(Covey 1986: 128).
Empathic listening is particularly important when:
• ‘the interaction has a strong emotional component
• the relationship is strained or trust is low
• we are not sure we understand or the data is complex or unfamiliar, or
• we are not sure the other person feels confident we understand’ (Covey 1986: 147) .
Covey thinks that ‘the essence of empathic listening is not that we agree with
someone; rather we deeply understand the other person, emotionally as well as
intellectually’ (Covey 1986: 148).
4 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors
11. Empathy comes from the Greek and Covey (1986: 136) suggests five empathic
literally means in feeling or suffering. listening responses:
‘We have empathy when we put
1. ‘Repeat verbatim the content of the
ourselves in another’s place and
communication – words only, not
experience feelings as they experience
them, intuiting another’s feelings as was
described by Goleman (1995). ‘This does 2. Rephrase content – summarise their
not mean we agree (as in sympathy), but meaning in your own words.
that we understand the other point of 3. Reflect feelings – look more deeply and
view’ (Covey 1986: 148). begin to capture feelings in your own
According to Covey, when we listen words. Look beyond words for body
to others, ‘we tend to filter what we language and tone to indicate their
hear through our own experiences. feelings.
Our background creates certain 4. Rephrase content and reflect feelings
‘autobiographical filters’. When we – express both their words and their
respond, we are really telling them what feelings in your own words.
we would do if we were in their position,
rather than what they should or could 5. Discern when empathy is not
do. How often do we say, “If I were you”. necessary or appropriate.’
Autobiographical responses can keep us
from understanding’ (Covey 1986:148).
Suggestions for listening
Listening with our eyes, ears and heart • Let go of the need to control – by
should help us to pick up on the all letting go on the grip a bit, you will be
important non-verbal cues, like body in a much better position to see and
language as well as what is not said. This sense the position of your beginning
is not always as easy, as cutting straight teacher. Understanding comes about
to the chase could be seen as more through conscious listening.
expedient in busy and pressured school • Clear some space in your mind – are you
schedules. Empathic listening skills take truly listening? Or listening with half
practice; this type of listening is a skilful an ear while you are simultaneously
art. Be aware of the emotional landscape concentrating on coming up with a
as there are times when autobiographical solution or a quick fix?
responses are appropriate; while at other
• Prepare yourself to just listen; to tune
times there is a need to offer a solution;
in to where the other person is at.
and sometimes it’s valuable to say
When we are able to really listen we
nothing at all.
are able to create the empathy and
trust necessary to strengthen rapport.
• Relax and make sure the setting
is conducive to supporting the
conversation. Rapport can be
established by the listener matching
the posture and gestures of the
Part A: Day 1 learning guide 5
12. Observation As the mentor of a beginning teacher
you will find yourself providing feedback
2. Observation – collecting the data
Observation involves expectation,
on the basis of practice that you have selective perception, interpretation
Observation is a powerful
observed. The development of effective and recall. As teachers, we are
strategy in supporting the classroom observational skills is vital accomplished at observing our
professional learning of teachers. for the mentor. Developing the skills of students with practised eyes, but we
The professional conversations observation may take some practice. are less used to observing each other’s
that we undertake as part of the It is also worth remembering that as teaching practice.
mentoring relationship are an the mentor of a beginning teacher you
‘Developing the discipline of noting
opportunity to carefully look at are in a completely different position
and talking about evidence takes
than working with a pre-service student
students as they go about their practice’, according to Parker Boudett
teacher. Powell, Chambers and Baxter
learning and to observe what (2002) as cited by O’Mahony and
et al., who describe a principal
teachers actually do as part of who actively models the process of
Matthews (2005:26) have identified
observation, calling it ‘learning to
their classroom practice. three critical roles for the mentor in
see. I noticed that … I saw that … I
effective classroom observations:
heard that, followed by examples of
• To help stimulate and develop new what was seen and heard’ (2005:104).
practice (observation as development) Instead of evaluation, learning to see
teaching practice relies on description,
• To develop current practice which helps us to generate a shared
(observation for development) understanding of the current reality in
• To assure standards of practice our classrooms.
(observation of development). 3. Debriefing – the follow-up
In organising for classroom observations Discussing the observation and its
three key steps need to be planned: meaning to assist in identifying ideas
and strategies for effective teaching
1. Preparation – deciding the purpose,
practice. Sharing observations
what will be observed and how it will
respectfully is a means of building
happen? How long will it take? What
on the relationship. This is also an
will the role of the observer be? Will
opportunity to practise listening
it be an opportunity for some team
empathically and presenting ideas
teaching? Will notes be taken during
clearly and specifically, without
the observation or later?
criticism and evaluation. The
As part of a classroom observation, debriefing should be planned to
mentors can invite their beginning happen as soon as possible after the
teacher into their own classroom to observation and should be conducted
demonstrate and model a certain face to face.
aspect of good teaching practice, or
be invited into the beginning teacher’s
classroom as an observer. The purpose
should be linked to building the skills
and capacity of the beginning teacher.
6 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors
13. These conversations can add to the This example is used to show how easy it is to jump to conclusions and misguided
effectiveness of your relationship. beliefs about what we have seen and heard and therefore what we believe is true.
Openness and clear communication can What happens when we observe something that results in us taking action? What are
help to build mutual understanding and the processes behind this?
trust and demonstrate respect for each
Senge et al. (2000:71) suggest the ‘ladder of inference’ provides a process that can
other’s differences and individual talents.
inform the way we observe, as shown in the figure 1.
(See also ‘Reflective Conversations’ on
page 9.) Figure 1: The ladder of inference
All too often what we see or observe I take Actions
is influenced by the mental models we based on
my beliefs
carry with us – the pictures, assumptions
and stories we know and think of as our I adopt Beliefs
reality. It is these models that influence about the world
what we see and how we interpret what
we see. I draw
Imagine a parent walking down the The reflexive loop
I make Assumptions (our beliefs affect
corridor of their children’s school.
based the what data we select
They pass the classroom of their Year meanings I added next time)
5 child. Raucous laughter and children
shouting can be heard. Alarmed at the I add Meanings
(cultural and personal)
noise they look though the glass panel
of the door and are horrified to see the
I select “Data”
students all out of their desks and the from what I observe
teacher (a beginning teacher) sitting
on a desk with a bemused look on her Observable
face and her mouth wide open, while “data’ and experiences
(as a videotape recorder
two students roll around on the floor might capture it)
locked in combat. The parent rushes
off to see the principal, alarmed that
the graduate has lost complete control.
The parent has made an observation
based on their own experiences of
what a classroom should sound like
and look like and they have made the
assumption the beginning teacher
has no control. What they did not
know was that the class was exploring
strategies in conflict resolution in
playground bullying and the two
students on the floor were engaging in
enthusiastic role play.
Part A: Day 1 learning guide 7
14. The ladder of inference makes explicit Senge et al. make the point that
the process we go through from the reflection and inquiry are not something
point of seeing to acting on what we have that we have learned; in fact, ‘very few of
seen – the what goes on in our heads. us have learned how to build the skills of
The only part that is seen is the first step, inquiry and reflection into our thoughts
observable data and experiences, and and emotions, and everyday behaviour’
the last step, the action taken. (1994:240). These are skills that require a
lot of practice. This point reinforces that
Being aware of the ladder of inference
we should not fall into the trap of seeing
means that we can use it to:
mentoring as just common sense.
• reflect on our own thinking and what
As mentors not only must we be aware of
influences our thinking
our mental models and the implications
• make our thinking and reasoning of what we see, but we also need to be
transparent aware of the beginning teacher’s mental
• examine and question others’ thinking. models and the sensitivity with which we
must approach them when exposing their
We are not always aware of our mental assumptions. Natural feelings that may
models and, as such, we do not question arise as a result of exposing assumptions
our own interpretations. Reflective are anger, embarrassment, uncertainty,
thinking (‘slowing down our thinking reluctance to talk, confusion of what to
processes to become aware of how we do and fear of retaliation (particularly
form our mental models’), and inquiry, in cases where the beginning teacher
(having ‘conversations where we openly feels judgment may be passed and
share views and develop knowledge when this has implications for their
about each other’s assumptions’) employment). Critical reflection is about
(Senge et al. 2000:68) allow us to exposing assumptions, and this needs
examine our assumptions. to be treated respectfully in the spirit of
genuine inquiry and co-learning.
Consider what protocols form the
basis for how formal observation is
approached in your school?
8 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors
15. Reflective ‘Reflection is the process of stepping back from an experience to examine it, carefully
and persistently, and pondering its meaning to yourself through the development of
conversations inferences. Learning is the process where knowledge comes from thoughtful reaction
to the experience that confronts us in our lives’ (O’Mahony & Matthews 2005:28).
Don’t step in too fast; stand Reflective conversations aim to provide fresh insights into the practices of all teachers,
back. As a mentor you are by looking at and talking about classroom teaching in order to discover how those
facilitating learning not taking practices can be improved. It’s a skill that can be used effectively by mentors as part of
over. Reflective practice can be their tool kit.
risk-taking. As the mentor of a beginning teacher you can actively model and make transparent
your own reflection on your practice, as when you ‘think on your feet to capture and
use the teachable moment with your students.’ (O’Mahony & Matthews 2005:30).
Research carried out by O’Mahony and Barnett tells us that reflective thinking
• ‘help beginning and experienced teachers to organise their thoughts about past and
present practice and help to make sense of classroom events
• lead to the development of professional forms of inquiry and questioning about
practices of teaching and learning
• assist educators to ask questions about their practice
• provide a way to think about future action by analysing present scenarios about
student learning
• promote the view that teaching is a process of constant knowledge building and
sharing of good ideas
• promote vital interaction and collaboration among teachers by developing mutual
understanding about their work in the classroom’ (O’Mahony & Matthews 2005:30).
O’Mahony and Matthews refer to Schon’s research that ‘reflection is a process needing
hindsight, insight and foresight for development. Schon talks about two categories of
• reflection-on-action, when reflection is made after a lesson. The mentor and
beginning teacher can review what was planned to happen compared with what
actually happened and discuss implications arising from this.
• reflection-in-action, which is when we consciously think about our teaching while
we are teaching and so make modifications to make the teaching more effective. In
the middle of a lesson the teacher may change an activity to better suit the needs of
the students by writing some step-by-step instructions on the board instead of the
planned oral explanation’ (O’Mahony & Matthews 2005:30).
Part A: Day 1 learning guide 9
16. Barnett et al. illustrate the process We use these facts to make informed judgments in the third phase, based on
of reflection using Kolb’s theory reasonable conclusions and emotional insights. We attempt to understand the
of experiential learning. The cycle experience by drawing inferences, insights and conclusions, about our own and
of reflection comprises ‘concrete others’ motives, determining how the experience was handled and what could
experience, reflective observation, happen in the future.
abstract conceptualisation and active
The fourth and final phase, active experimentation, represents working with our
experimentation’ (2004:17). See figure 2.
new or affirmed thoughts, feelings and actions. As this phase takes place, the
Beginning with the concrete experience reflective learning cycle has come full circle, with these actions becoming the
phase, a direct teaching experience, concrete experiences for further reflection and refinement (Barnett et al. 2004:17).
our thinking is stimulated. This may
well occur as our teaching unfolds, as in Figure 2: The cycle of reflection
Schon’s reflection-in-action.
Teaching experience
In the second phase, reflective (an event)
observation, or reflecting on the
experience, we recollect the conditions
and what happened so as to gather WHAT?
facts about the situation, as in Schon’s Active experimentation
reflection-on-action. (purposeful action)
Reflective observation
NOW (what happened during the event)
Planning for implementation SO
(future actions, success) WHAT?
Informed judgment
(insights about the event)
Source: adapted from Barnett et al. 2004:19.
10 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors
17. Kolb’s model has been adapted by Reflective questions (Costa 2006:32) are
O’Mahony et al. with the addition of a characteristically framed with:
planning for implementation phase, to
• An invitational tone and approachable
include the important aspects of ‘possible
voice that sounds credible and also has
future actions to be undertaken and
lilt and melody
evidence to use to determine if future
actions are successful’ (Barnett et al. • Plural forms: What are the reasons
2004:19). This illustrates the new practice for …? ‘What are some of your goals …?
that can emerge after reflection – the This immediately signals there is more
reflexivity – the what we do with our than one option.
reflections in planning for the future. • Exploratory/tentative language: might
As a mentor you play a powerful role instead of is, could instead of are,
in assisting your beginning teacher to should instead of can. ‘What might be
reflect on practice and engage in inquiry. the causes of …?’ ‘What are some of
A safe environment and a relationship the ways …? This signifies ideas are
based on mutual rapport and trust open to interpretation.
enables you to expand your pool of • Positive presuppositions using
understandings. By asking reflective enabling language: ‘As you recall …
questions, mentors can assist beginning As you anticipate …’ ‘Given what you
teachers to build on their capacity and know about …’ ‘As you examine the
capability. Reflective questions are open data, what are some of the similarities
ended and it’s important that mentors and differences that are emerging?’
carefully self-manage their emotions and
suspend their judgments. There should • Empowering presuppositions are open
be no feelings of I know better, I know ended and point to possibilities. ‘What
more, or that’s not right. are some of the goals you have in
mind?’, ‘As you consider alternatives
what seems most promising?’
• Limiting presuppositions are not open
ended. They easily make the listener
feel defensive as the messages they
may receive are ‘If only you had
listened’, ‘Do you have an objective?’,
‘Why were you unsuccessful?’
More about reflective conversations can
be found in the resources section on
page 24.
Part A: Day 1 learning guide 11
18. Giving and receiving Feedback is vital for improvement, for
knowing ‘if the job I am doing is okay;
Techniques for giving
effective feedback
feedback what do my mentor, principal and
colleagues think of my performance’. • be aware of your motive – it should be
This is about exchanging to be helpful
information on the impact Benefits of effective
feedback • focus on the behaviour, not the person
of an action or some specific
behaviour. In the case of a • speak for yourself only
Effective feedback does many things,
teacher mentor, feedback to the including: • use ‘I’ not ‘you’
beginning teacher supports the • honouring competence and reinforcing • restrict your feedback to things you
development of knowledge and desired behaviours know for certain
skills in teaching practice.
• helping align expectations and • focus on descriptions, not judgments
priorities • feedback should be lean and precise
• filling gaps in knowledge • check the other person understands
• enabling people to know where to take the feedback, accepts it and is able to
corrective action do something with it
• alleviating the fear of the unknown. • always end feedback with a request for
future action.
It’s important that good preparation
be made prior to the feedback session. The mentoring relationship is a dynamic
Finding the right time and place, and and reciprocal one where both the
having all the information to hand is a experienced and new teacher work
good start. together in an equal professional
relationship where they are both
Giving the feedback is an opportunity
teachers and learners. Sometimes
to listen with open ears, open mind and
the mentor will seek feedback or the
open heart to the beginning teacher’s
beginning teacher will offer feedback to
point of view and to hold an enabling
the mentor.
conversation that is focused at building
the capacity and confidence of the
beginning teacher.
12 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors
19. Techniques for receiving As a mentor, there is a need to challenge Ways of working together
any preconceptions or perceptions
effective feedback developed and how they may influence Schools use a variety of protocols to
• clearly articulate what it is that you the conversation and the feedback observe practice. In one school, all
want feedback on provided. Active listening, observation teachers undertake Learning Walks using
and reflective practice are, of course, the following protocol:
• provide the necessary background necessary skills in the process of giving
information succinctly using specific • listen with empathy and understanding
and receiving feedback. The synergy
examples, data and evidence where of these skills is very powerful and • adopt a shared sense of responsibility
possible fundamental to effective mentoring. • adopt respectful collaboration
• listen carefully to all that is said Giving and receiving constructive • address problems constructively
• listen beneath the words feedback can be among the most
challenging interactions in the mentoring • defer judgments by keeping an open
• ask open-ended questions for clarity mind
relationship. To ensure that feedback
• acknowledge the feedback becomes a relationship-building • acknowledge diversity and difference
experience for all participants, we need a
• don’t defend yourself • assume and act with positive intent
framework that includes the following:
• take time to sort out what you have • use constructive language
1. Clarify the purpose in giving the
heard and what you want to do with it
feedback. • share ethically
• express your thanks.
2. Describe what you have observed – • create opportunities for enjoyment of
A further thought for reflection: the beginning teacher’s behaviour work.
feedback will be influenced by the and actions and the impact of this
Further information for giving and
mentor’s perceptions and correlating behaviour.
receiving feedback can be found in the
expectations. When the feedback is
3. Use open-ended questions to elicit a resources section on page 26.
given through the ‘lens’ of the mentor’s
comment or response.
perceptions and expectations then the
feedback can be coloured and may often 4. There may be a need for a solution;
simply reinforce what the mentor was it may also only be an opportunity
expecting to find. Feedback not based for a reflective conversation with
on evidence may not only be not useful, improvement in mind but not a specific
but may also be potentially damaging solution.
to the beginning teacher’s growth and
development. This may occur for both the
perceived high performer (whose areas
for improvement are not identified) and
for the perceived low performer (whose
skills are not recognised).
Part A: Day 1 learning guide 13
20. 3. Day 1 resources and further
A. Mentoring in the new conclusions for redesigning teacher They learn refinements on the job within
preparation, developing continuous the confines of the classroom, which
millennium learning throughout the career, and they control. Mentoring is reduced to
Source: A Hargreaves and M Fullan 2000. Andy changing the teaching profession more a few words of encouragement and
Hargreaves is professor and director of the fundamentally. management ‘tips’ offered in the staff
International Centre for Educational Change,
and Michael Fullan is dean, both at the Ontario room: otherwise new teachers are on
The four ages of professionalism
Institute for Studies in Education and University their own. This is scarcely mentoring
of Toronto. Hargreaves (in press) outlines four broad at all.
All professional work is complex and historical phases of the changing nature
The age of the autonomous professional
demanding of teachers’ professionalism: (a) the
pre-professional age, (b) the age of the Beginning in the 1960s, the status of
Poor professional judgment can result in autonomous professional, (c) the age teachers in many countries improved
a patient’s death, buildings falling down, of the collegial professional, and (d) the significantly, compared to the pre-
or people giving up on their own learning. fourth professional age. professional age. In this period, the
The idea that new professionals should terms professional and autonomy
have mentors to guide them through The pre-professional age
became increasingly inseparable
developing the skills and managing Public education began as a factory- among teachers. One of the overriding
the stresses of their work has become like system of mass education. The characteristics of teaching was its
increasingly accepted. In teaching, most common teaching methods were individualism. Most teachers taught
for example, induction and mentoring recitation or lecturing, along with their classes in isolation, separated
programs have become widespread; note-taking, question and answer, and from their colleagues. In the 1970s and
however, their implementation has often seat work (Cuban 1984). In this pre- 1980s, individualism and isolation were
been disappointing. professional age, teaching was seen as identified as widespread features of the
Mentoring practice may fall short of managerially demanding but technically culture of teaching (Rosenholtz 1989).
its ideals, not because of poor policies simple. Its principles and parameters
Professional autonomy enhanced the
or program design but because we were treated as unquestioned common
status of teaching as the amount of
fail to regard mentoring as integral sense. One learned to be a teacher
preparation was lengthened and salaries
to our approach to teaching and through practical apprenticeship and
rose. But professional autonomy also
professionalism. Mentoring of new improved by trial-and-error. The ‘good
inhibited innovation. Few innovations
teachers will never reach its potential teacher’ demonstrated loyalty and
moved beyond adoption to successful
unless it is guided by a deeper garnered personal reward through
implementation (Fullan 1991). The
conceptualisation that treats it as central service.
benefits of in-service education seldom
to the task of transforming the teaching In this view, good teachers are became integrated into classroom
profession itself. enthusiastic people who ‘know their practice, as individual course-goers
In this article, we pursue this challenge in stuff’ and how to ‘get it across’, and can returned to schools of unenthusiastic
three ways. First, we link approaches to keep order in their classes. They learn colleagues who had not shared the
mentoring with an evolutionary model of to teach by watching others, first as learning with them. Pedagogy stagnated
professionalism in teaching, what we call students, then as student teachers. In as teachers were reluctant or unable to
the four ages of professionalism. Second, a pre-professional image of teaching, stand out from their colleagues.
we extend this analysis to example key teachers need little training or ongoing
areas of change that should lead us to professional learning.
look at mentoring differently as we enter
the new millennium. Third, we draw
14 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors
21. Although induction and mentoring In these cultures, teachers develop The fourth professional age
programs began to be introduced in a common purpose, cope with uncertainty,
As we enter the 21st century, the world is
profession that was now acknowledged respond to rapid change, create a climate
undergoing profound social, economic,
as being difficult, the surrounding culture of risk taking, and develop stronger
political, and cultural transformations.
of individualism meant that helping senses of teacher efficacy. Ongoing
The social geography of post-modernity
relationships in a school were confined learning cultures replace patterns of staff
is one where boundaries between
to new mentoring. The message was that development that are individualised,
institutions are dissolving, roles are
only novices or incompetents needed episodic, and weakly connected to
becoming less segregated, and borders
help. The rest of the teaching staff could the priorities of the school (Fullan &
are becoming increasingly irrelevant.
manage by themselves. When help was Hargreaves 1996). The implications
What’s ‘out there’ is now ‘in here’, and
associated with weakness new teachers for initial teacher education, ongoing
this has fundamental implications for
sought to extricate themselves from it professional learning, and mentoring in
teachers and administrators (Hargreaves
as fast as they could (Little 1990). The particular include:
& Fullan 1998). Teaching, for example,
age of professional autonomy provided
• Teachers learn to teach in new ways. requires learning to work with more
teachers with poor preparation for coping
diverse communities and seeing parents
with the changes heading their way and • Professional learning is seen as a
as sources of learning and support rather
against which their classroom doors continuous process, grappling with
than interference.
would offer little protection. complex and evolving issues.
Not only are the social geographies
The age of the collegial professional • Continuous learning is both an
of schooling changing in ways that
individual responsibility and an
By the mid-1980s, individual teacher blur the boundaries between schools
institutional obligation.
autonomy was becoming unsustainable and the world outside, but the social
as a way of responding to the increased • Professional learning is not to be found geographies of professional learning are
complexities of schooling. The in a choice between school-based and also changing. There is more access to
persistence of individualism in teaching course-based modes of provision but networks of professional learning. The
meant that teachers’ responses to the in an active integration of and synergy content of professional learning needs
challenges they faced were ad hoc and between the two. to become wider and deeper. It needs
uncoordinated with the efforts of their • Collegial professionalism means to encompass working with parents,
colleagues and based on their own working with, learning from, and becoming assessment literate, keeping
personal knowledge and skill. teaching colleagues. up with scientific breakthroughs in the
pedagogy of learning, rekindling the
At the same time, pressure to create • Teaching must be framed and informed purpose and passion of teaching, and
collaborative cultures was growing by professional standards of practice working with others to bring about
due to the knowledge explosion, the that define what good teachers should positive reforms in education. All of
widening of curriculum demands, the know and be able to do and what this is occurring in the midst of intense
increasing range of special education qualities and dispositions they should pressure and contradictory trends
students in ordinary classes, and the possess to care for and connect with of centralisation and school-based
accelerating pace of change. Teaching their students. management.
was becoming even more difficult and
complex, and efforts to build cultures of
collaboration were increasing.
Part A: Day 1 learning guide 15
22. We are on the edge of an age of Teaching is no exception. After decades Mentors, not tormentors
post‑modern professionalism, where of assuming that teachers teach alone
As we have argued, teaching has become
teachers deal with a diverse clientele and get better only through their
incredibly more complex over the past
and increasing moral uncertainty, own individual trial and error, there is
few years. The breadth of teachers’
where many approaches are possible increasing commitment to the idea that
classroom repertoires is expanding
and more and more groups have an all teachers are more effective when
because of developments in the science
influence. Will this age see positive new they can learn from and be supported
of teaching (e.g., constructivism,
partnerships being created with groups by a strong community of colleagues.
cooperative learning, and assessment
and institutions beyond the school and While new teachers can benefit greatly
strategies), the spread of information
teachers learning to work openly and from a mentor, mentors also learn from
technologies, and the challenge of
authoritatively with those partners? Or their protégés developing new insights
adapting instruction to the needs and
will it witness the deprofessionalisation into their own and others’ teaching,
learning styles of students from diverse
of teaching as teachers crumble under new relationships, and a renewal of
backgrounds and with special needs.
multiple pressures, intensified work enthusiasm and commitment to their
These developments pose challenges for
demands, and reduced opportunities craft and career.
new and experienced teachers alike. The
to learn from colleagues? Mentoring
Good mentoring is not accomplished old model of mentoring, where experts
is embedded and embroiled in these
easily. An expanding research who are certain about their craft can pass
literature has addressed the key issues on its principles to eager novices, no
No potentially powerful intervention, and surrounding it; the selection of mentors, longer applies.
mentoring is certainly one of them, can how mentors and protégés are assigned
Although it is possible to find a few
be treated independently of the evolving or matched to each other, how formal
teachers who are conversant and
nature of society and the teaching or informal the relationship should be,
comfortable with the wide range of new
profession within it. In order to meet how mentors should be rewarded for
teaching strategies, these individuals
the challenges of the post-modern age, their contribution, and where the time
are a scarce resource and can quickly
mentoring must be guided by and linked for mentoring can be found (Little 1990).
become overburdened. The reality
to an overarching appreciation that, for While this article is mindful of these
in many schools today is that while
better or worse, we are on the brink of enduring issues, we want to push the
assigned mentors may know more
redefining the teaching profession. debate further. We ask not what the
than new teachers about certain areas,
needs and issues of mentoring are in
Challenges in the new millennium such as school procedure or classroom
general but how we might challenge
management, the new teacher may
In any complex occupation, new entrants and extend the role of the mentor in a
sometimes know more than the mentor
need someone who can ‘show them the world where the very nature of teaching
about new teaching strategies. If the
ropes’, develop their competence and is undergoing profound changes. What
school assumes the mentor always
understanding, and help them fit in. Even are the challenges to mentoring at the
knows best, even about teaching
experienced practitioners can benefit beginning of a new millennium? In the
strategies, innovative new teachers
from having the advice, support, and role following sections, we outline key areas
might quickly experience the mentor
modelling of colleagues. of change that will push educators to
relationship as an oppressive one.
look at mentoring differently in the
post-modern age.
16 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors
23. Mentors may seem more like tormentors, In the drive to standardise teaching, students within it. It means working
and the process of induction into the to define and demarcate it through more and more with adults as well as
profession may amount to seduction graded benchmarks of knowledge and children and facing one’s fears to work
(from the Latin, seducere, to lead aside) competence, it is easy to lose sight of more closely with those whom teachers
of the new teachers away from the teaching’s emotional dimension, of the might once have seen as their greatest
purposes and practices they recently enthusiasm, passion, and dedication adversaries and critics.
acquired in their teacher preparation that make many teachers great. Emotion
Good mentorship involves helping
experiences (Hargreaves & Jacka 1995). energises teaching but can also drain it.
teachers work effectively with adults
Thus, emotional support is one of the
Cochran-Smith and Paris (1995) being sure (as a professional community)
strongest needs of beginning teachers
recommend that new and experienced of their own judgments while also being
(Tickle 1991). In today’s demanding
teachers work on and inquire into the open and responsive to the opinions of
classrooms, experienced teachers also
problems of teaching and learning in a others. Teachers have important things to
need this kind of support to talk through
situation where everyone acknowledges learn from parents and other community
their emotions, manage their anxieties
that teaching is inherently difficult members – about the particular children
and frustrations, and be guided and
and even ‘experts’ do not have easy they teach and sometimes (for instance,
reassured about the limits to the care
answers. This also means that the in relation to information technology)
they can provide when guilt threatens to
mentor relationship should not be the about ways to teach them. Teachers
overwhelm them (Hargreaves 1994).
only helping relationship in a school. are not always the experts and working
In a job that is inherently complex and Mentorship, therefore, involves more effectively with other adults means they
difficult, everyone needs help, not just than guiding protégés through learning will sometimes be the ones who are
the incompetent teacher or the novice. standards and skill sets and extends learning not teaching. As Wailer (1932)
to providing strong and continuous wryly observed in his classic text, The
Support as well as standards
emotional support. Just as emotional Sociology of Teaching:
Another issue in the future of mentoring support for high school students should
concerns teachers’ increasing needs be the responsibility of all teachers, and
Parent–teacher work has usually
for emotional support. Teaching is an not just one or two guidance counsellors, been directed at securing for the
emotional practice (Hargreaves 1998). It support for teachers should not fall to school the support of parents
arouses and colours feelings in teachers a few designated mentors but extend that is at getting parents to
and those they teach. Teaching involves across the entire school community. see children more or less as
not only instructing students but also
Communities as well as classrooms teachers see them. But it would
caring for and forming relationships
with them. With the children of many of A change force in teaching in the
be a sad day for childhood if
today’s post-modern families (Elkind post-modern age is the way in which parent–teacher work ever really
1997) – families that often are fractured, increased accountability, school choice, succeeded in its object .
poor, single-parented – this burden and cultural changes in families and
of caring is becoming even greater. communities are making teachers
Teachers are repeatedly putting their connect more with people and groups
selves on the line. Times of rapid beyond the school – people who
change, whether chosen or imposed, increasingly affect the world within it
can create even greater anxiety and (Hargreaves & Fullan1998). Connecting
insecurity among teachers as the with what’s ‘out there’ means teachers’
challenge of learning new strategies calls work and relationships are extending
their competence and confidence into beyond the classroom to help their
Part A: Day 1 learning guide 17
24. Dealing with the demographics The challenge will be to bring together We have identified three strategic
the cultures of youth and experience. approaches for developing mentoring
The imminent change in the
This will involve harnessing the energies programs that can make a lasting
demographics of teaching will require us
that new teachers bring to the system difference. First, we can conceptualise
to rethink how mentoring is recognised
without marginalising the perspectives and design mentoring programs so that
in schools. Teachers recruited in the
and wisdom of teachers whose they are explicitly seen as instruments
1960s and ’70s to educate the baby-
knowledge and experience have deep of school re-culturing. This means that
boomer generation are now approaching
roots in the past. all those involved must work on the
or already entering retirement. In the
deeper meaning of mentoring, seeing
next five years, the teaching force in These are just a few of the challenges
mentoring as a way of preparing teachers
many countries will undergo a massive facing teaching and mentoring in a new
to become effective change agents who
demographic renewal with large century. They indicate that mentoring
are committed to making a difference in
numbers of young teachers entering the must become less hierarchical, less
the lives of young people and are skilled
profession for the first time. individualistic, more wide ranging, and
at the pedagogical and partnership
more inclusive in its orientation than it
Beginning teachers have often been developments that make success
has been viewed in the past.
isolated instances in their schools with with students possible. Mentoring in
many experienced teachers as their New approaches to mentoring this sense becomes not just a way of
mentors. These mentors have been supporting individual teachers, but also
Teacher induction programs are
able to induct the new teachers into the a device to help build strong professional
becoming widespread. Among teachers
existing culture of the school. Indeed, cultures of teaching in our schools,
with up to three years experience
the evidence is that in such conditions, dedicated to improving teaching,
surveyed during 1993–94, 56.4 per
especially when employment in teaching learning, and caring.
cent indicated they participated in an
has been insecure, beginning teachers
induction program (NASSP 1999). There Second, mentoring must be explicitly
quickly conform to the existing culture
is a growing body of resources on how to connected to other reform components
(Schemp, Sparkes & Templin 1993).
select train, and support mentors, how in transforming the teaching profession.
This will soon be reversed, with large to set goals and assess outcomes, and Mentoring must address the needs
cohorts of experienced teachers and how to define and spread best practices of all teachers new to the district or
mentors retiring. Young teachers will in mentoring. school, not just beginning teachers. It
form large groups in many schools, to a must be linked to the redesign of initial
We believe many of these mentoring
point where they may begin to develop a teacher education and ongoing school
programs will fall short of their potential;
new cultural dynamic. This shift creates improvement.
however, because of a failure to realise
a massive opportunity for innovation
that they must be integrated with other At the University of Toronto, for example,
and renewal. It also carries risks of
developments in policy and practice that we are implementing teacher preparation
misdirected energy and excesses of
are required to transform the teaching programs that have three design
error. Without strong leadership, the
profession. In the same way that we components: cohorts of students (up
schools could be balkanised into older
have seen site-based management to 60), teams of school and university
and younger teachers, where each group
fail to realise its potential, any formal faculty (up to six on a team), and sets
excludes and devalues the contributions
mentoring policy can easily degenerate of partner schools (up to 10) in which
of the other. In these circumstances
into acts of restructuring (adding formal subgroups of student interns work.
the challenge for a dwindling group of
roles) without re-culturing (altering the
mentors or lead teachers may not be to
capacity of teachers).
counsel individuals.
18 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors