Notes from "The Good Mentor" Educational Leadership, by James B. Rowley
May 1999 | Volume 56 | Number 8 | Supporting New Teachers Pages 20-22
A training program that engages prospective mentors in reflecting on the qualities of effective helpers is an excellent place to begin.
Lacking opportunities for shared experience, mentors often limit instructional support to workroom conversations. Although such dialogue can be helpful, discussions based on shared experience are more powerful. Such shared experiences can take different forms: mentors and mentees can engage in team teaching or team planning, mentees can observe mentors, mentors can observe mentees, or both can observe other teachers.
The mentor training program should equip mentors with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions prerequisite to effective coaching.
Finally, we need to give mentors and mentees time and opportunity to participate in the preconferences, classroom observations, and postconferences that lead to quality clinical support.
Just as good teachers adjust their teaching behaviors and communications to meet the needs of individual students, good mentors adjust their mentoring communications to meet the needs of individual mentees. To make such adjustments, good mentors must possess deep understanding of their own communication styles and a willingness to objectively observe the behavior of the mentee.
The Supervisory Beliefs Inventory (Glickman, 1985)
The Leadership Adaptability and Style Inventory (Hersey & Blanchard, 1974)
Beginning teachers rarely appreciate mentors who have right answers to every question and best solutions for every problem. Good mentor teachers are transparent about their own search for better answers and more effective solutions to their own problems.
Good mentors share their own struggles and frustrations and how they overcame them. And always, they do so in a genuine and caring way that engenders trust.