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A Learning Guide

for Teacher Mentors

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

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Authorised by the Department of Education and

Early Childhood Development, 2 Treasury Place,
East Melbourne, Victoria 3002.

ISBN 978-0-7594-0574-5

2 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

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

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
and rewarding role.’ do as 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.

iv A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

Part A
1 Exploring Wider Workforce
and Work Organisation initiatives

Part A: Day 1 learning guide v

vi A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors
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

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

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 e5 Instructional Model provides
can be noted which, although neither the evaluation, beginning teachers us with a framework to inform
complete nor comprehensive, are clearly and mentors have agreed that the conversations and guide the
relevant to identifying potential mentors processes that led to the pairing of the observations, feedback and reflection
capable of building effective trustful mentor and beginning teacher are less of our classroom practice. This is
relationships with beginning teachers. significant in the overall effectiveness an all‑important resource when the
of the relationship than the motivation beginning teacher is observing more
• Accessibility – being accessible to
and quality of the mentor. That is, the experienced teachers or when the
the beginning teacher; having time to
primary consideration is that the mentor mentor is observing the beginning
spend with them; being responsive to
is motivated to be a mentor, enthusiastic teacher. It enables the mentor and the
their needs; having physical proximity
in the role, and possesses the attributes beginning teacher to think more deeply
to the beginning teacher’s location in
of an effective mentor. If all else is equal about the development of expertise in
the school.
between two potential mentors in terms teaching across the five pedagogical
• Empathy – being understanding and of motivation, skills and experience, domains of engage, explore, explain,
supportive; and being patient with beginning teachers would say that elaborate and evaluate.
an inexperienced teacher’s questions ‘access’ is the next most important
The use of the e5 Instructional Model,
and uncertainty. What is crucially distinguishing factor.
together with the Principles of Learning
important in terms of empathy is
As a mentor you can lead from wherever and Teaching and the VIT Standards for
whether the beginning teacher has
you stand. You are in the position of Professional Practice, will assist mentors
actually felt understood by their
empowering your beginning teacher to undertake meaningful conversations
to realise their ambitions of making a about practice with their beginning
• Knowledge and experience – being difference in the lives of their students. teachers.
an experienced teacher (although
Teaching can be seen as ‘a possibility
not necessarily a long-serving or
to live into, not a standard to live up to’
older teacher); having ideas on, and
(Ben Zander).1 You do not have to have
strategies for, effective teaching (e.g.
all the answers; posing questions which
classroom management, planning
can be resolved by working and learning
and assessment, communication with
together is far more important:
students and parents); possessing
relevant curriculum knowledge Asking a question is the simplest
(desirable but not essential); and way of focusing thinking. Asking
being a role model for teachers (and
the right question may be the
acknowledged and respected as such
by other teachers).
most important part of thinking

• Listening skills – willing to listen; (Edward de Bono).2

being reflective and sharing ideas;
and providing honest and constructive
feedback to the beginning teacher.


Part A: Day 1 learning guide 3

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’ (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’
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

Empathy comes from the Greek and Covey (1986: 136) suggests five • Listen to the emotion behind the
literally means in feeling or suffering. empathic listening responses: words – read the body language,
‘We have empathy when we put facial gestures and tone. What is your
1. ‘Repeat verbatim the content of the
ourselves in another’s place and body language saying about you and
communication – words only, not
experience feelings as they experience how you are listening?
them, intuiting another’s feelings as was
• Do not interrupt, beware the yes-buts
described by Goleman (1995). ‘This does 2. Rephrase content – summarise their
and other platitudes, however well
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). • If questions are required, try to stick
begin to capture feelings in your own
to reflective questions that require
According to Covey, when we listen words. Look beyond words for body
more than a yes or no answer to
to others, ‘we tend to filter what we language and tone to indicate their
help clarify and probe for further
hear through our own experiences. feelings.
Our background creates certain
4. Rephrase content and reflect feelings
‘autobiographical filters’. When we • Silence provides space that does
– express both their words and their
respond, we are really telling them what not have to be filled. Silence can be
feelings in your own words.
we would do if we were in their position, seen as an indicator of a productive
rather than what they should or could 5. Discern when empathy is not conference and can communicate
do. How often do we say, “If I were you”. necessary or appropriate.’ respect for the other’s reflection.
Autobiographical responses can keep us Waiting will often elicit an answer
from understanding’ (Covey 1986:148).
Suggestions for listening that’s a complete thought.

Listening with our eyes, ears and • Let go of the need to control – by • Let go of your assumptions and keep
heart should help us to pick up on the letting go on the grip a bit, you will be a check that they are not interpreting
all important non-verbal cues, like in a much better position to see and the story told. Ask yourself ‘What am I
body language as well as what is not sense the position of your beginning hearing?’
said. This is not always as easy, as teacher. Understanding comes about
• Focus on your beginning teacher – not
cutting straight to the chase could be through conscious listening.
on what you can add to their story
seen as more expedient in busy and • Clear some space in your mind – are from your point of view and the similar
pressured school schedules. Empathic you truly listening? Or listening with half experiences that you have had – the
listening skills take practice; this type an ear while you are simultaneously autobiographical response.
of listening is a skilful art. Be aware of concentrating on coming up with a
the emotional landscape as there are • Paraphrase to check that you have
solution or a quick fix?
times when autobiographical responses understood, by summarising what you
are appropriate; while at other times • Prepare yourself to just listen; to tune have heard as you see it.
there is a need to offer a solution; and in to where the other person is at.
• Be sincere and be patient.
sometimes it’s valuable to say nothing When we are able to really listen we
are able to create the empathy and • Confidentiality is a given.
at all.
trust necessary to strengthen rapport. • If you don’t have the time to listen now,
• Relax and make sure the setting set up a time for later and make it a
is conducive to supporting the priority.
conversation. Rapport can be
established by the listener matching
the posture and gestures of the

Part A: Day 1 learning guide 5

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
their classroom practice. observation, calling it ‘learning to see.
three critical roles for the mentor in
I noticed that … I saw that … I heard
effective classroom observations:
that, followed by examples of what
• To help stimulate and develop new 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

6 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

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 What happens when we observe something that results in us taking action? What are
can help to build mutual understanding the processes behind this?
and trust and demonstrate respect
Senge et al. (2000:71) suggest the ‘ladder of inference’ provides a process that can
for each other’s differences and
inform the way we observe, as shown in the figure 1.
individual talents. (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 based on
my beliefs
we carry with us – the pictures,
assumptions and stories we know and I adopt Beliefs
think of as our reality. It is these models about the world
that influence 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 I add Meanings
(cultural and personal)
the noise they look though the glass
panel of the door and are horrified to
I select “Data”
see the students all out of their desks from what I observe
and the teacher (a beginning teacher)
sitting on a desk with a bemused Observable
look on her face and her mouth wide “data’ and experiences
(as a videotape recorder
open, while two students roll around might capture it)
on the floor 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

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
Being aware of the ladder of inference
that we should not fall into the trap of
means that we can use it to:
seeing 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’ models and the sensitivity with which
thinking. we must approach them when exposing
their assumptions. Natural feelings
We are not always aware of our mental that may arise as a result of exposing
models and, as such, we do not question assumptions are anger, embarrassment,
our own interpretations. Reflective uncertainty, reluctance to talk, confusion
thinking (‘slowing down our thinking of what to do and fear of retaliation
processes to become aware of how we (particularly in cases where the
form our mental models’), and inquiry, beginning teacher feels judgment may be
(having ‘conversations where we openly passed and when this has implications
share views and develop knowledge for their employment). Critical reflection
about each other’s assumptions’) (Senge is about exposing assumptions, and this
et al. 2000:68) allow us to examine our needs to be treated respectfully in the
assumptions. 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

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
back. As a mentor you are teachers, by looking at and talking about classroom teaching in order to discover how
facilitating learning not taking those practices can be improved. It’s a skill that can be used effectively by mentors as
over. Reflective practice can be part of 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:
• 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

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

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
future actions to be undertaken and
has 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 the
A safe environment and a relationship ways …? This signifies ideas are open
based on mutual rapport and trust to interpretation.
enables you to expand your pool of • Positive presuppositions using
understandings. By asking reflective enabling language: ‘As you recall … As
questions, mentors can assist beginning you anticipate …’ ‘Given what you know
teachers to build on their capacity and about …’ ‘As you examine the data,
capability. Reflective questions are open what are some of the similarities and
ended and it’s important that mentors differences that are emerging?’
carefully self-manage their emotions and
suspend their judgments. There should • Empowering presuppositions are
be no feelings of I know better, I know open ended and point to possibilities.
more, or that’s not right. ‘What 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

Giving and Feedback is vital for improvement, for
knowing ‘if the job I am doing is okay;
Techniques for giving
effective feedback
receiving 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 of Benefits of effective
an action or some specific feedback • focus on the behaviour, not the person

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. • focus on descriptions, not judgments
• helping align expectations and
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

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

3. Day 1 resources and
further readings

A. Mentoring in the new as we enter the new millennium. Third, They learn refinements on the job within
we draw conclusions for redesigning the confines of the classroom, which
millennium teacher preparation, developing they control. Mentoring is reduced to
Source: A Hargreaves and M Fullan 2000. Andy continuous learning throughout the a few words of encouragement and
Hargreaves is professor and director of the career, and changing the teaching management ‘tips’ offered in the staff
International Centre for Educational Change,
and Michael Fullan is dean, both at the Ontario profession more fundamentally. room: otherwise new teachers are on
Institute for Studies in Education and University their own. This is scarcely mentoring
of Toronto. The four ages of professionalism
at all.
All professional work is complex and Hargreaves (in press) outlines four broad
The age of the autonomous professional
demanding historical phases of the changing nature
of teachers’ professionalism: (a) the Beginning in the 1960s, the status of
Poor professional judgment can pre-professional age, (b) the age of the teachers in many countries improved
result in a patient’s death, buildings autonomous professional, (c) the age of significantly, compared to the pre-
falling down, or people giving up on the collegial professional, and (d) the professional age. In this period, the
their own learning. The idea that new fourth professional age. terms professional and autonomy
professionals should have mentors to became increasingly inseparable
guide them through developing the The pre-professional age
among teachers. One of the overriding
skills and managing the stresses of Public education began as a factory- characteristics of teaching was its
their work has become increasingly like system of mass education. The individualism. Most teachers taught
accepted. In teaching, for example, most common teaching methods were their classes in isolation, separated
induction and mentoring programs recitation or lecturing, along with from their colleagues. In the 1970s and
have become widespread; however, note-taking, question and answer, and 1980s, individualism and isolation were
their implementation has often been seat work (Cuban 1984). In this pre- identified as widespread features of the
disappointing. professional age, teaching was seen as culture of teaching (Rosenholtz 1989).
Mentoring practice may fall short of managerially demanding but technically
Professional autonomy enhanced the
its ideals, not because of poor policies simple. Its principles and parameters
status of teaching as the amount of
or program design but because we were treated as unquestioned common
preparation was lengthened and salaries
fail to regard mentoring as integral sense. One learned to be a teacher
rose. But professional autonomy also
to our approach to teaching and through practical apprenticeship and
inhibited innovation. Few innovations
professionalism. Mentoring of new improved by trial-and-error. The ‘good
moved beyond adoption to successful
teachers will never reach its potential teacher’ demonstrated loyalty and
implementation (Fullan 1991). The
unless it is guided by a deeper garnered personal reward through
benefits of in-service education seldom
conceptualisation that treats it as central service.
became integrated into classroom
to the task of transforming the teaching In this view, good teachers are practice, as individual course-goers
profession itself. enthusiastic people who ‘know their returned to schools of unenthusiastic
In this article, we pursue this challenge stuff’ and how to ‘get it across’, and can colleagues who had not shared the
in three ways. First, we link approaches keep order in their classes. They learn learning with them. Pedagogy stagnated
to mentoring with an evolutionary model to teach by watching others, first as as teachers were reluctant or unable to
of professionalism in teaching, what we students, then as student teachers. In stand out from their colleagues.
call the four ages of professionalism. a pre-professional image of teaching,
Second, we extend this analysis to teachers need little training or ongoing
example key areas of change that should professional learning.
lead us to look at mentoring differently

14 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

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 of risk taking, and develop stronger
political, and cultural transformations.
culture of individualism meant that senses of teacher efficacy. Ongoing
The social geography of post-modernity
helping relationships in a school were learning cultures replace patterns of staff
is one where boundaries between
confined to new mentoring. The message development that are individualised,
institutions are dissolving, roles are
was that only novices or incompetents episodic, and weakly connected to
becoming less segregated, and borders
needed help. The rest of the teaching the priorities of the school (Fullan &
are becoming increasingly irrelevant.
staff could manage by themselves. When Hargreaves 1996). The implications
What’s ‘out there’ is now ‘in here’, and
help was associated with weakness new for initial teacher education, ongoing
this has fundamental implications for
teachers sought to extricate themselves professional learning, and mentoring in
teachers and administrators (Hargreaves
from it as fast as they could (Little 1990). particular include:
& Fullan 1998). Teaching, for example,
The age of professional autonomy
• Teachers learn to teach in new ways. requires learning to work with more
provided teachers with poor preparation
• Professional learning is seen as a diverse communities and seeing parents
for coping with the changes heading their
continuous process, grappling with as sources of learning and support rather
way and against which their classroom
complex and evolving issues. than interference.
doors would offer little protection.
• Continuous learning is both an Not only are the social geographies
The age of the collegial professional
individual responsibility and an of schooling changing in ways that
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
At the same time, pressure to create the pedagogy of learning, rekindling
• Teaching must be framed and informed the purpose and passion of teaching,
collaborative cultures was growing by professional standards of practice
due to the knowledge explosion, the and working with others to bring about
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
increasing range of special education this is occurring in the midst of intense
qualities and dispositions they should pressure and contradictory trends
students in ordinary classes, and the possess to care for and connect with
accelerating pace of change. Teaching of centralisation and school-based
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

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 own
incredibly more complex over the past
and increasing moral uncertainty, 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
literature has addressed the key issues pass on its principles to eager novices,
No potentially powerful intervention, and surrounding it; the selection of mentors, no 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

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
teachers work effectively with adults
it. 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
classrooms, experienced teachers also
problems of teaching and learning in a of others. Teachers have important
need this kind of support to talk through
situation where everyone acknowledges things to learn from parents and
their emotions, manage their anxieties
that teaching is inherently difficult other community members – about
and frustrations, and be guided and
and even ‘experts’ do not have easy the particular children they teach and
reassured about the limits to the care
answers. This also means that the sometimes (for instance, in relation
they can provide when guilt threatens to
mentor relationship should not be the to information technology) about
overwhelm them (Hargreaves 1994).
only helping relationship in a school. ways to teach them. Teachers are
In a job that is inherently complex and Mentorship, therefore, involves more not always the experts and working
difficult, everyone needs help, not just than guiding protégés through learning effectively with other adults means they
the incompetent teacher or the novice. standards and skill sets and extends will sometimes be the ones who are
to providing strong and continuous learning not teaching. As Wailer (1932)
Support as well as standards
emotional support. Just as emotional wryly observed in his classic text, The
Another issue in the future of mentoring support for high school students should Sociology of Teaching:
concerns teachers’ increasing needs be the responsibility of all teachers, and
for emotional support. Teaching is an not just one or two guidance counsellors,
Parent–teacher work has usually
emotional practice (Hargreaves 1998). It support for teachers should not fall to been directed at securing for the
arouses and colours feelings in teachers a few designated mentors but extend school the support of parents
and those they teach. Teaching involves across the entire school community. that is at getting parents to
not only instructing students but also see children more or less as
Communities as well as classrooms
caring for and forming relationships
teachers see them. But it would
with them. With the children of many A change force in teaching in the
of today’s post-modern families (Elkind post-modern age is the way in which
be a sad day for childhood if
1997) – families that often are fractured, increased accountability, school choice, parent–teacher work ever really
poor, single-parented – this burden and cultural changes in families and succeeded in its object .
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 change, beyond the school – people who
whether chosen or imposed, can create increasingly affect the world within it
even greater anxiety and insecurity (Hargreaves & Fullan1998). Connecting
among teachers as the challenge of with what’s ‘out there’ means teachers’
learning new strategies calls their work and relationships are extending
competence and confidence into beyond the classroom to help their

Part A: Day 1 learning guide 17

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 Teacher induction programs are supporting individual teachers, but also
able to induct the new teachers into the becoming widespread. Among teachers a device to help build strong professional
existing culture of the school. Indeed, with up to three years experience cultures of teaching in our schools,
the evidence is that in such conditions, surveyed during 1993–94, 56.4 per dedicated to improving teaching,
especially when employment in teaching cent indicated they participated in an learning, and caring.
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 We believe many of these mentoring must be linked to the redesign of initial
point where they may begin to develop a programs will fall short of their potential; teacher education and ongoing school
new cultural dynamic. This shift creates however, because of a failure to realise improvement.
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

In this way, schools of education It means becoming a force for societal References
see themselves as in the business of development. Recreating the profession
Cochran-Smith, M & Paris, C (1995),
school improvement as well as teacher is a collective quest. But it begins with
‘Mentor and mentoring: Did Homer have it
education, and schools see themselves you and thousands of colleagues like
right?’, in J. Smyth (ed.), Critical Discourses
as in the business of teacher education you making individual contributions of
on Teacher Development (pp. 181–202),
as well as school improvement. your own (Hargreaves & Fullan 1998, pp.
Cassell, London.
Furthermore, induction and the
Cuban, LJ (1984), How teachers taught:
continuous development of teachers Conclusion
Constancy and change in American
and administrators must build on the
Mentoring is a means to a larger end: classrooms 1890–1980, Longman,
efforts of initial teacher education. All
that of creating a strong, improvement- New York.
of these must be guided by standards
oriented profession in schools,
of practice aligned with the concepts Elkind, D. (1997), ‘Schooling in the
professional associations, and teacher
of good teaching required for what we post-modern world’, in A Hargreaves
unions. As this challenge is addressed
earlier called the emerging realities of (ed.), Rethinking educational change with
we should see mentoring move in the
the post-modern age. Mentoring, in this heart and mind (pp. 27–42), Alexandria,
following directions:
sense, is viewed not only as an integral V A: Association for Supervision and
part of development and improvement • from being performed in pairs Curriculum Development.
efforts within the school but part of an to becoming an integral part of
Fullan, M, with Stiegelbauer S (1991), The
entire system of training, development, professional cultures in schools
new meaning of educational change (2nd
and improvement beyond the school. • from focusing only on classroom work ed.), Teachers’ College Press, New York.
Third, all those involved directly and with students to developing the ability
Fullan, M & Hargreaves, A (1996), What’s
indirectly in teacher mentoring must to form strong relationships with
worth fighting for in your school?,
realise they are looking at a vital window colleagues and parents as well
Teachers College Press, New York,
of opportunity to recreate the profession. • from hierarchical dispensations
The next few years will be a defining era Hargreaves, A (1994), Changing teachers,
of wisdom to shared inquiries into
for the teaching profession (Hargreaves changing times: Teachers’ work and
& Fullan 1998). Will it become a force for culture in the post-modern age, Cassell,
society change and social justice? Can • from being an isolated innovation London; Teachers’ College Press, New
it develop its own visions of educational to becoming an integrated part of York.
and social change, instead of reacting broader improvement efforts to
— (1998), ‘The emotional practice
to the change agendas of others? Make reculture our schools and school
of teaching’, Teaching and Teacher
no mistake about it. Those entering systems.
Education, 14, 835854.
teaching at the turn of the millennium are These are some of the key challenges for
entering at a time when the future of the — (in press), Four ages of professionalism
mentoring at the turn of the millennium.
profession is at stake. As we have stated and professional learning, Teachers and
The goal is not to create high-quality
previously: Teaching.
mentor programs as ends in themselves
Getting ‘out there’ means addressing the but rather to incorporate mentoring as (This article is reprinted with the
public perception that the profession of part of transforming teaching into a true permission of the authors.)
teaching does not monitor itself. It means learning profession.
engaging with external constituencies in
establishing standards of performance.

Part A: Day 1 learning guide 19

B. What is mentoring? Mentoring is not…
The success of the mentoring relationship • Cloning, or becoming a substitute
rests on the mutual excitement the parent, or acquiring a disciple, or an
mentor and beginning teacher have about opportunity to prove how marvellous
a particular field and the commonality of we are, or an opportunity to establish a
their own working and learning styles. power base.
In the most successful partnerships,
• An alternative to a counselling or
participants achieve intellectual and
confessional relationship.
creative growth with shared ideas acting
as a stimulus for that growth. • About one person (the beginning
teacher) becoming knowledgeable; it is
Research tells us that mentoring is:
about two people in a developmental
Reciprocal relationship who are supporting mutual
The experienced and new teacher learning and growth.
work together in an equal professional • A job – it is a privilege and an
relationship where they are both teachers opportunity.
and learners.
Well, it is and it isn’t…
Mentoring is not induction, but it is a
Mentoring influences/changes the
key strategy of induction. Induction
context; and the context shapes the
enhances, but does not take the place
relationship. The relationship is organic.
of, a mentoring program; nor should
An understanding of mentoring is needed
mentoring take the place of induction.
to underpin the approach but a formula
Good mentoring often grows out of
does not work.
induction that lays the foundations for
Reflective new teachers. Induction often works
The mentor facilitates reflection on the effectively with a designated ‘buddy’.
part of the beginning teacher to support A buddy provides ‘friendship and
the development of the beginning personal support, particularly a shoulder
teacher’s professional identity as a to cry on when things don’t go well.
teacher; the mentor professionally Mentoring is more professional – a
challenges the beginning teacher in critical friend focusing on reflective
developing their theory of teaching, and practice’. Mentoring will often require
sense of teacher efficacy. In doing this the use of coaching and counselling
the mentor continuously reflects on their techniques, but differs from both.
own practice and self-image as a teacher.
A coaching relationship is more limited
Based on Professional Support in its scope and will often focus on the
While personal support is inherent in a development of particular work skills and
mentoring relationship, the emphasis the acquisition of knowledge. Coaching
is on professional support, in this case is usually short term and performance
supporting the growth of teaching oriented. A person may share a coaching
expertise. relationship with many people.

20 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

Counselling in the work context is usually Communicating expectations • videoing lessons – of partners and
short term – it is a transaction with a others for joint review
This is where, together, you set up the
developmental and corrective objective.
parameters or ‘ground rules’ of the • collaborative planning and assessment
Even though counselling is usually a
relationship. Be encouraged to be clear, • reading groups to discuss current
friendly encounter, it differs from merely
open and specific. Explore who you each articles and research
a ‘friendly chat’ because there is a
are, what you understand a mentoring
change imperative. • learning teams with an emphasis on
relationship is like. You might like to
Wherever possible, mentoring should be explore: trialling new ideas, reflecting and
separate from performance assessment refining practice
• your work personality types
arrangements to protect the integrity • networking with other beginning
of each function and to foster trust • your preferred learning styles teachers, mentors, learning area
and transparency in the mentoring specialists, etc.
• how you might reach agreements and
what they might be about • using tools such as the e5 Instructional
Beginning the mentoring • how a mentoring relationship works Model, the Principles of Learning
relationship and Teaching and the Standards
• the importance of tackling problems
of Professional Practice to support
Mentoring is like any other relationship. respectfully
It will go through predictable phases • what happens if it’s not working.
as the partnership and individuals Relationship-building strategies
develop. Each stage has different and Exploring objectives
shared characteristics and challenges. The following strategies for successful
It is much easier to gauge whether you
This reading describes one view of the relationship-building have a wide range
are achieving your objectives if you set
beginning stages usually associated with of applications and can be used beyond
desirable, specific realistic ones in the
mentoring in schools. your relationship with your beginning
beginning. Seriously consider the two
teacher. They form a solid framework for
Getting acquainted way process of mentoring. Discuss what
engaging in reflective practices and for
you want and don’t want, strategies to
In any relationship, time needs to be sharing feedback.
achieve these, and style and purpose of
given to establish common ground, feedback. These may include: Understanding needs and emotions
understandings and expectations.
• setting objectives The four basic needs that are operating in
The mentoring partners need to meet the context of the mentoring relationship
together regularly. Simply identifying • feedback styles and purposes
yourself ‘as a mentor – please come and • accepting where you each are at
talk with me any time you want’ is a great • to feel safe
way to kill off any potential relationship! • sharing skills and knowledge.
• to belong and to be acknowledged
So make time to get together and treat Some suggested strategies in working
• to feel good about ourselves and well
it as a high priority. Allow an informal with mentoring partnerships include:
regarded by others
conversation to develop sharing and • modelling practice – each visit the
• to have freedom to grow and to
discovering common interests, values other’s classroom
and goals.
• reflective practices – talking about
what has happened in classes, journal
writing, and team debriefings on
practices and routines

Part A: Day 1 learning guide 21

Conversely, when it is perceived that Focus on achievements Factors that promote trust in a
these needs are under threat, people relationship arise out of a sense of
It is important to recognise
tend to respond in predictable ways – mutual respect and recognition of each
achievements and focus on what is being
becoming anxious, defensive and self- other’s strengths and differences. Trust
done well and what brings a sense of
focused – that are counter-productive to means there is a sense of transparency
pride and accomplishment. This gives
building strong relationships. that comes out of well-planned and
recognition and confidence to people
strategic organisation with no hidden
Have clear and shared standards and confirms that they are valued as
and goals members of the collegiate community,
irrespective of the challenges ahead. In times of stress we down shift to the
It is important that the mentors and
old part of our brain, the reptilian brain
beginning teachers are clear about In giving recognition to achievements,
that tells us fight or flight. Trust allows
the standards and expectations that skills and attributes, we can avoid a
us to maintain levels of the highest
accompany their roles within the situation in which the perspectives
mental functioning in the neocortex the
mentoring program and also within of the mentor and/or the beginning
neo-mammalian part of our brains (Costa
the context of the whole school. These teacher are distorted by an unhealthy
should be spoken about and set at the or inappropriate emphasis on what is
very beginning of the relationship. missing or has ‘gone wrong’. Trust is a more long-term relationship
whereas rapport is more immediate. The
Send relationship-building messages Let the story be told and heard
elements of rapport identified by Costa
Messages are relayed through: It is a specific human need to tell our are posture, gesture, tonality, language
• the words we choose story and to be confident of having been and breathing (2006:24). Much of our
heard. It is only when people believe that meaning is communicated through non-
• para-language – such as tone, pitch they have been heard, understood and verbal components, and researchers on
and timing respected that they will be genuinely ape behaviour such as Dianne Fossey
• body language – in particular our prepared to listen to suggestions about and Jane Goodall tell us that this is
facial expressions. how they may do things differently or something that we have brought with
better the next time. us through our evolution, having the
In most interactions, it is our para-
addition of language along the way.
language and body language that Rapport and trust
convey the most powerful messages, Figure 3 illustrates the proportion of
Forming a trusting relationship with your meaning inferred from non-verbal and
with the words we select an important
beginning teacher is paramount. When verbal components (Costa 2006:25).
contribution to the images and
trust has been established, problems
connections made by the person with
and issues can be faced and dealt with
whom we are interacting.
more effectively.
In a trusting relationship a sense of
equality exists and both parties are
able to feel understood, safe and
valued. Trust enables risk taking and
learning through error. New ideas can
be explored and opinions expressed
without criticism.

22 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

Figure 3: Proportion of meaning inferred from non-verbal and verbal components Many, and sometimes most, of
the critical meaning generated
in human encounters are
elicited by touch, glance,
vocal nuance, gesture or facial
expression with or without the
verbal aid of words. From the moment
of recognition until the moment
Non-verbal – 65 per cent: Verbal – 35 per cent:
of separation, people observe
each other with all their senses,
• posture
hearing pauses and intonation,
• gesture attending to dress and carriage,
• proximity observing glance and facial
tension, as well as noting
• muscle tension
word choice and syntax. Every
• facial expression
harmony or disharmony of
• pitch signal guides the interpretation
• volume of passing mood or enduring
attribute. Out of the evaluations
• inflection
of kinetic, vocal, and verbal cues
• pace decisions are made to argue or
• words to agree, to laugh or to blush, to
Costa contests that of the 35 per cent attributed to verbal components of relax or resist to continue or cut
meaning only 7 per cent is given to words. He also says that if you can bring off conversations
your body language into alignment the words you use take on greater meaning
(Costa 2006:25). This is especially useful for a special conversation when deep (Barnlund in Costa 2006:24).
meaning is required:

Part A: Day 1 learning guide 23

When there are difficulties We are the only person who can take C. Reflective conversations
responsibility for our own attitudes and
An effective mentoring relationship behaviours. In any given situation, we Some possible questions that can support
engages the mentor and beginning make the choice about what we will think critical reflection and inquiry:
teacher as thinking partners, sharing in and feel and how we will respond and
• What do we know as a fact about the
the identification of issues and goals and interact.
identifying the development issues and
What we are may be our parents’ fault.
objectives in accessible, user-friendly • What do we feel is true but have no
What we remain is our responsibility.
messages. evidence to back it up?
In the mentoring relationship, it will be
Mentoring is like any other relationship; • What don’t we know – what questions
imperative to accept responsibility for
it will go through predictable phases and are there?
our part in every interaction and to try
from time to time the people involved will
to consistently make the best possible • What is impossible to know?
experience difficulty with their roles and
choices in our purpose, perceptions and • What can we do to test our mental
each other. Accepting that difficulties are
behaviours. models?
part of the territory will help mentoring
partners to normalise the experience Should there be need for confrontation, Reflective conversations should be rich in
and to take a proactive approach in please remember the guidelines shown open-ended questions and can be used in
the identification and resolution of the in table 2. the following instances.
Table 2: Guidelines for dealing with Expose assumptions
The mentor coordinator or assistant difficulties
principal are valuable resources in • Please tell me a little more about …
challenging times, having both the Never in Anger
• Help me to understand that idea; what
responsibility and sufficient distance Confront Immediately – unless you’re saying here is …
from the mentoring partnership to you’re angry – otherwise • Can you give me an example to help me
provide wise counsel and appropriate you rely on your memory understand …?
direction when the situation demands. and memory is subjective
• To what extent …?
Be Specific about behaviour
• So, are you suggesting …?
Clear – check
communication • I’m curious about …

Use Data – clear information Build trust

Provide Examples of behaviour • listen deeply

– often people have • use non-judgmental responses
different perception
• acknowledge ideas and feelings
Follow-up Rather than thinking it
• encourage contributions of ideas
will all blow over
• give attention to the other person
• relate questions to particular events,
situations, people and actions.

24 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

Promote thinking D. Seven norms of 5. Putting ideas on the table
• What might you see happening in your collaboration Ideas are the heart of meaningful
classroom if …? dialogue and discussion. Label the
1. Promoting a spirit of inquiry
intention of your comments. For
• What do you think would happen if …?
Exploring perceptions, assumptions, example, ‘Here is one idea …’ or ‘One
• How did you decide/come to that beliefs, and interpretations promotes thought I have is …’ or ‘Here is a possible
conclusion? Have you thought about …? the development of understanding. approach …’ or ‘Another consideration
Inquiring into the ideas of others before might be …’.
• What results do you expect? (Salzman
advocating for one’s own ideas is
2003:31). 6. Paying attention to self and others
important to productive dialogue and
Consider alternatives discussion. Meaningful dialogue and discussion are
• How can I learn from this? facilitated when each group member is
2. Pausing
conscious of self and of others, and is
• How can I approach this problem Pausing before responding or asking a aware of what he or she is saying and
flexibly? question allows time for thinking and how it is said as well as how others
• How might I look at the situation in enhances dialogue, discussion, and are responding. This includes paying
another way? How can I draw upon decision-making. attention to learning styles when
my repertoire of problem-solving 3. Paraphrasing planning, facilitating, and participating
strategies? in group meetings and conversations.
Using a paraphrase starter that is
• How can I look at this problem from a comfortable for you. For example ‘So …’ 7. Presuming positive intentions
fresh perspective? How can I illuminate or ‘As you are …’ or ‘You’re thinking …’. Assuming that others’ intentions are
this problem to make it clearer, more Following the starter with an efficient positive promotes and facilitates
precise? paraphrase helps members of the meaningful dialogue and discussion, and
• How might I break this problem down group in hearing and understanding prevents unintentional put-downs. Using
into its component parts and develop one another as they converse and make positive intentions in speech is one
a strategy for understanding and decisions. manifestation of this norm.
accomplishing each step? 4. Probing (Source: © 2006 Centre for Adaptive Schools )
• What do I know or not know? What Using gentle open-ended probes or
questions do I need to ask? inquiries. For example ‘Please say more
• What strategies are in my mind now? about …’, , ‘I’m interested in …’, ‘I’d like
What am I aware of in terms of my own to hear more about …’, or ‘Then, you
beliefs, values and goals with this are saying …’, increases the clarity and
problem? precision of the group’s thinking.

• What feelings or emotions am I aware of

that might be blocking or enhancing my
• How can we solve it together and what
can I learn from others that would help
me become a better problem-solver?

Part A: Day 1 learning guide 25

E. Three types of feedback • What opportunities did students have F. Receiving feedback
to be involved in the assessment
Warm feedback is constructive, explicit process – either self-assessment or
and helps build on strengths. For peer assessment? The following protocol (Lacey 1999:68)
example: provides a clear framework for feedback
• How could you increase students’
• The process really helped students opportunities to make more decisions and can be used with your beginning
focus their thinking about a difficult for themselves during the unit? teacher if required.
issue (e.g. reconciliation, death of a Purpose
• How would students use or apply this
parent, abortion, youth suicide, etc.).
knowledge in the real world? How To establish an understanding of how
• I liked the way you gave students a would you know if they were capable of each member of a mentoring pair would
range of options in terms of the way doing so? prefer to give and receive feedback.
they could respond to the project.
• How relevant did students see this unit Approximate time: 20 minutes.
Cool feedback is constructive and to their own lives? How could you make Resources needed: A feedback table for
raises issues or potential questions. it more so? each person.
It encourages reflection on particular
• What kinds of student thinking would Steps
aspects of teaching and learning with a
you like to see more of? How could you
view to improving. It notices what’s not Each participant reads the table (see
plan for this?
in the work and flags it for consideration. table 3) and ticks five statements that
For example: • What would you have liked to see more/ best describe how they prefer to receive
less of during the activity? How could feedback. It is important to stress
• I wondered about the amount of
that happen? receive feedback and not give feedback.
structure that you provided students
and whether you saw a need for more or Hard feedback is again explicit. It raises Each person then ranks those five
less in the future? issues to promote broader, deeper statements from one to five, with one
thinking about work. For example: being the most important. Rankings are
• What would have happened for then compared.
students to be more engaged in the • How does this approach sit with your
task? own values? Lacey advises that it is common that
‘Given with care’, ‘Directly expressed’
• If you were to do this task again, what • You seemed to be assuming X or Y –
and Fully expressed’ will be ranked
could you do to increase the intellectual how might that have impacted the final
highly. When we give feedback we often
quality of student responses? result?
like to give it with care, sometimes with
Source: © 2000 Australian National Schools so much care that the receiver does not
• What would have changed if students
Network and the Coalition of Essential
had worked in collaborative groups? Schools USA. receive a clear message.
The question that should be asked is
‘Whose need is being met when we
give feedback?’ The answer must be
the need of the person receiving the
feedback. It is important that both
mentors and beginning teachers
understand their partner’s preferred
way of giving and receiving feedback.

26 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

Table 3: Feedback preferences (to be ranked 1 to 5)

Statement Description Ranking

Given with care To be useful, feedback requires the giver to feel
concern and care for the person receiving the
feedback – to want to help. Not hurt the other person.
Invited by the Feedback is most effective when the receiver has
recipient invited the comments. This provides a platform
for openness and some guidelines; it also gives
the receiver an opportunity to identify and explore
particular areas of concern.
Freedom of Feedback is most readily accepted when the receiver
choice to change is supported to change but does not feel compelled to
Directly Good feedback is specific and deals clearly with
expressed particular incidents and behaviour. It is direct, open
and concrete.
Fully expressed Effective feedback requires more than a bald
statement of facts. Feelings also need to be
expressed so that the receiver can judge the full
impact of their behaviour.
Non-evaluative Specific behaviour is commented on rather than
personal value judgments about that behaviour.
Well timed The most useful feedback is when the receiver is
receptive to it and is sufficiently close to the particular
event being discussed for it to be fresh in their mind.
Readily Effective feedback centres around behaviour that can
actionable be changed. Feedback concerning matters outside
the control of the receiver is useless.
Checked and If possible, feedback should be clarified to explore
clarified differences in perception.
(Lacey 1999:68)

Part A: Day 1 learning guide 27

G. Three phases of Laying the foundations Continuing professional learning

induction: what do This phase relates to the first term. While This phase relates to the first year,
beginning teachers need? the first few weeks of teaching are about emphasising the need to respond to
supporting new teachers in ‘finding their individual professional learning needs.
Before starting the job feet’, the focus of this period is to lay the
Key issues to be worked through and
This phase relates to preparation and foundations enabling teachers to further
information required by new teachers
introduction/welcome, and takes place develop and extend their practice.
during this phase may include:
prior to the commencement of teaching. Key issues to be worked through and
It includes orientation, which is the • managing student behaviour
information required by new teachers
introduction to the profession, the during this phase may include: • student assessment and record-
employer and the workplace. keeping
• managing student behaviour/
Key issues to be worked through and classroom management • catering for students with a range
information required by new teachers of learning needs and inclusion of
during this phase may include: • catering for students with a range of
students with a disability
learning needs
• availability and location of curriculum • effective teaching and learning
materials and teaching resources • effective teaching and learning
• information about students prior to • report writing
teaching • organising student learning
• communicating with parents
• timetable and grade allocation • student assessment
• organising student learning including
• school rules and policies • communicating/dealing with parents
student motivation
• how to access school facilities and • teaching strategies for particular
• developing sequenced learning
equipment (e.g. photocopying); keys content areas
• who’s who and what’s where? • inclusion of students with a disability
• teaching strategies for particular
• desk arrangements and availability of • record-keeping content areas
classroom resources • developing sequenced learning • full registration process –
• expectations about teaching role and programs; curriculum planning opportunities to undertake further
responsibilities collegial classroom activities; continue
• full registration process –
to list and comment on professional
• full registration process for opportunities to undertake one/two
activities undertaken; develop the
Provisionally Registered Teachers collegial classroom activities; begin
Analysis of Teaching and Learning;
(PRT) – what this process involves, and list of professional learning activities
and present Evidence of Professional
the support available. undertaken.
Practice to panel of peers.

28 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

H. Understanding beginning Anna’s Story During teaching rounds, I had been
teaching an average of two lessons
teachers’ needs ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far
per day and I’d been flat out, planning
away’ – ‘a long time’ being ‘a mere 14
Lang (1999) refers to four stages lessons, finding resources and talking
months ago’ and the ‘galaxy far, far
of teacher development – survival, lessons over with supervisors. Now, all
away’ being ‘Monash University’ – I lived
consolidation, renewal and maturity; the of a sudden, I was teaching four to five
in a different world. A world where every
amount of time a teacher spends in each lessons a day, I still had no resources up
lesson had to be meticulously planned.
stage depends on a number of factors my sleeve and I was drowning in work. I
A world where there was always the
including: simply couldn’t believe that they made
safety net of an experienced teacher
us leave school at 6 pm when I was
• the teacher’s own self-concept and in the back of the classroom. A world
nowhere near having finished planning!
self-efficacy where yard duties and staff meetings
were voluntary. A world, in short, that By the second week, all classes were
• the context in which they begin
was trying to be like the ‘real world of running. My Year 10 home group was
teaching and the support provided
teaching’ and just kept telling us, ‘You’ll too cool for school – were they taking
within the school.
see’! Well, I saw all right … me seriously at all? I had a Year 8 English
Lang explored the survival stage by class that was running riot – 26 students,
following seven beginning teachers I graduated from Monash University
among them six boys who’d try anything
through their first year of teaching. in 2006 with a Graduate Diploma of
to disrupt a lesson. They taught me,
Education and a few misgivings in
‘The Survival Stage’ describes teachers as no uni course could ever have done,
my pocket. Was I really equipped to
always on the run, stressed, working why it’s never good to ‘smile before
deal with high school life from the
long hours, and having an imbalance Easter’. I had two Year 8 Music classes
perspective of a teacher?
of work and personal life: On the edge. who were supposed to play instruments
While the first year may be likened to On that memorable first day of teaching, soon and I was terrified to let them
‘survival’, it doesn’t have to be. This is I thought, ‘This is going to be a breeze!’ because I couldn’t see them, or me, or the
the purpose of induction and mentoring Student behaviour was excellent. I had instruments come out in one piece.
support. Induction and mentoring should mainly Year 7s and they were probably
After that second week, I was
work towards taking the ‘survival aspect’ just as intimidated as I was; I’d just
overwhelmed. There was too much to
out of the first year of teaching. practised not to show it so much. By the
do and I wasn’t keeping up! Little things
third day, they’d adjusted remarkably
The two following case stories illustrate tripped me up, things like, ‘What’s a form
well and established their pecking
two beginning teachers’ needs. assembly and what do I do there? What’s
order – the trouble was, I wasn’t too sure
the correct school uniform supposed to
anymore where I was in that order ...
look like? They taught us the VELS at uni
but what’s PAC, SPIT, etc.?’

Part A: Day 1 learning guide 29

At six o’clock one night, as I was internally There is another episode that illustrates She is no longer officially my mentor but
panicking because the cleaners would this very well. I was lucky enough to a valued colleague and we still share our
come by any minute to lock up, one of be at a school with a large group of knowledge, a good whinge every now
the experienced teachers came up to my first year teachers and we helped each and then and strategies of coping with
desk and said, ‘You’re doing too much – other through a lot. One day after the challenges. We work closely together
is there anything I can help you with?’ I school, another one of the beginning and have a shared passion for helping
almost burst into tears, just because there teachers came up to me in the social others achieve their best – which is one
was another human being who obviously staffroom and said, ‘I’ve just had the of the things that I love most about the
sympathised with my struggle to cope, most supremely awful Year 9 group you profession.
which I had taken to be individual and can imagine…’. He then proceeded to tell
Since that time so ‘long, long ago’, I think
private. Not only did she understand; she me about the lesson which apparently
I have grown up a bit. Last September,
gave me two practical tips that I’ve tried had gone from bad to worse. At first,
I was deemed ‘grown-up’ enough to go
to live by ever since: I just listened with a great bubble of
on the school trip to Japan and we had
relief growing inside me and then I
• Don’t write a lesson plan in too much a wonderful time. I also managed to get
started talking about my own day. We
detail. through the hell that is reports twice,
weren’t advising or judging, we weren’t
virtually unscathed. This year, I am a
• Take some time off for yourself, even even – at that moment – searching for
form teacher of a Year 7 class who have
if it means that your classes don’t go ways to do better next time; we just
come wide-eyed into the school just
as well as they would if you’d planned needed to vent and have somebody
like I did a year ago. I am also buddy
better. listen sympathetically. One by one, the
to a new teacher who has come new
One of my most poignant memories other graduate teachers came back from
into the school and we share failures
of these first few weeks is my mentor classes and we must have sat there for
and triumphs as well as professional
coming back to her desk and saying, an hour, reliving our first weeks. Yes, we
‘I’ve had such a bad class just now – were whinging, but slowly, the smiles on
our faces appeared again. Being honest Looking back is great, because I can see
they went crazy!’ On the one hand, the
was unbelievably cathartic and that how far I’ve come already. Looking ahead
thought that bad classes would never
was probably the moment when we first is even better because there is still so
be a thing of the past was depressing.
found our feet. much to learn, so many challenges to
On the other, though, I felt reassured.
face and so many skills to master.
It wasn’t just me whose Year 8 classes My mentor was an important person in
sometimes spun out of control. It wasn’t that first year. She was an invaluable
just me who every now and then felt resource, answered all the questions
totally inadequate. Above all, it wasn’t that seemed stupid to me and helped
just me coming back to my desk and me distinguish between important
needing a good whinge. and unimportant. She shared her
professional knowledge and introduced
me to the social aspects of the
staffroom. Above all, she helped me
to cope when I was feeling like a lousy

30 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

Melanie’s Story This practice on my mentor’s part really If a beginning teacher feels safe enough
helped to establish a good relationship to go to their mentor and ask for advice,
As a new graduate mentoring was
between us because it made me feel that they benefit from the mentor’s teaching
exactly what I needed! Even though
my mentor: experience.
I am mature age, had worked as an
integration aide and have three children, • was genuinely interested in my Others factors I believe are important
I found having my own grade for the first wellbeing for a successful mentoring relationship
time very daunting. include:
• was available to help me, answer
It’s a huge learning curve in so many questions and support me should I • the mentor making themselves
areas. I had to: need a brain to pick or an ear to listen. available, and
This had the added benefit that it
• get to know the staff at the school • effective listening and honest
helped me to feel safe.
communication between the mentor
• learn my way around the school and
I believe some of the key factors in and the beginning teacher.
how the school functions
a successful mentoring relationship
I had lots of informal conversations with
• locate resources are mutual trust, respect and a non-
my mentor on a variety of topics and at
judgmental environment in which to learn.
• assess students to find out where times I needed to debrief at the end of the
My mentor never made me feel like she
they’re at day. I appreciated having an experienced
was better than I was, even though she
point of view to reference from. Many
• plan engaging teaching and learning had years more teaching experience than I
times my mentor suggested things that I
activities for a room full of students did. One thing my mentor would say to me
would never have even considered.
who are all at different stages in their time and time again was that ‘There’s no
learning such thing as a silly question!’ One thing that I wish I had more of in my
mentoring relationship was constructive
• teach and enforce classroom rules and Whether we’re a student learning in the
feedback. Sometimes I felt like my mentor
boundaries classroom, a graduate teaching their own
was too nice and didn’t want to point out
• implement behaviour management class for the first time or an experienced
any of my shortcomings. I was and still
strategies teacher who has been teaching for years,
am eager to grow and learn and wanted
we all need to feel valued and accepted. If
• carry out a multitude of admin tasks … to be told how I could do things better
we feel valued and accepted then we can
the list goes on … and in what ways I could improve. At
feel safe.
times it takes courage to give constructive
One of the things I really appreciated It’s important for new graduates to feel feedback, but if it’s done in the context
about my mentor in the first few weeks safe because then they can be honest of a safe relationship built on honest
of school was the way she would come to and seek the help and support they need. communication, trust and respect, then
my room before school started to: They can say to their mentor: it is worthwhile making the effort. The
• see how I was going beginning teacher may not always agree
• ‘I’ve never used this particular teaching
with your opinions, but at least you have
• check whether I needed anything, and method before; could I sit in on one of
given them the opportunity to think of
your classes and watch what you do?’
• to inform me of anything that might be things from another point of view.
happening during the day that I might • ‘Could you please come into one of
not be aware of. my classes and model this particular
teaching method?’

Part A: Day 1 learning guide 31

During third and fourth terms my mentor It was great to feel like I was
and I were actually fortunate enough contributing to my mentor’s teaching
to organise for our Administration and and learning knowledge and not always
Planning Time to be blocked at the just picking her brain. Graduates often
same time. We used to sit and work on come in with fresh ideas and have
our weekly planners together. We both knowledge and skills that they can
found this extremely useful as two heads share with experienced teachers. It’s a
are better than one. It was something I partnership with both the mentor and
would have found very beneficial right beginning teacher working to grow and
from the beginning of the year. As a new learn together.
graduate I had limited resources, as in
I’ll leave you with this last thought.
books, games, etc. I also had limited
Mentoring is a two-way professional
teaching experience, so it helped having
collegiate partnership which
access to my mentor as a resource.
contributes to the growth and
Both my mentor and I really enjoyed our development of both partners.
team teaching experiences. Instead of
my mentor coming in and sitting on the
sidelines, observing me teach a lesson;
we planned the lessons so that we were
both contributing to the teaching and
learning activities. My mentor would
often act as a scribe while I lead the class
discussion or she would roam around the
grade giving assistance while I taught
a small group. This approach made me
feel more comfortable as I didn’t feel like
the spotlight was solely on me. Also my
mentor really enjoyed playing an active
part in the lesson and commented on a
number of occasions how it had been a
learning experience for her observing
me teaching things differently than she
would have.

32 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

Part B

The Teacher Mentor Support Program Day 2 continues the opportunity to develop
skills as a mentor.
Completing Day 2 of the program can create further opportunities for conversations
at your school to support collegiate practices and shared understandings of the
knowledge, skills and behaviours required for effective induction and mentoring.
Using the Standards of Professional Practice as a context to work through the phases
of induction, beginning teachers are supported to achieve full registration.
In your mentoring relationship, the professional wellbeing of your beginning teacher
is paramount. The support you give your beginning teacher will enable him or her
to become part of a culture of professional learning that promotes and encourages
reflection on practice through ongoing professional conversations.
The reciprocal nature of mentoring is an ideal opportunity for you to learn with and
from each other, either as part of a larger team, or as learning partners – with the
shared commitment towards the development of each other.
Research tells us that one of the biggest drivers of workplace morale is team work.
The professional interaction (the talking with one another about what we do and
how we do it) has a strong influence on wellbeing, and the feedback we get from
our colleagues is powerful. Your role as a mentor supports the development of
your beginning teacher’s practice, contributing to their efficacy and wellbeing as a

Part B: Day 2 learning guide 33

34 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors
4. Emotional intelligence –
knowing myself better
as a mentor
Emotional intelligence refers to Research has found that high IQ alone A mentor who has empathy is said to be
the capacity to deal effectively does not necessarily mean success. empathic, which Rogers defines as:
In team work situations, for example,
with ones own and others’ the way of being with another
emotional intelligence is essential for
emotions. When applied to success. Daniel Goleman argues that person (which) … means
the workplace, emotional both rational intelligence (IQ) and temporarily living in their life,
intelligence involves the capacity emotional intelligence will determine moving about in it delicately
to effectively perceive, express, how well we do in life (Goleman 1995: without making judgments …
understand and manage 28). Unlike our rational intelligence, we to be with another in this way
emotions in a professional and can work on developing and improving
means that for the time being
our emotional intelligence.
effective manner you lay aside the views and
Emotional Intelligence is about a values you hold for yourself in
(Stough & Palmer 2002). 3 person’s ability to understand and
order to enter the other’s world
manage their own emotions and
without prejudice … a complex,
behaviours as well as those of others.
It’s a person’s ability that helps people demanding, strong yet subtle
cope with frustrations, control emotions and gentle way of being
and get along with others.
(Rogers in Costa 2006:23).
Empathy is an important component
of emotional intelligence. Empathy As important as empathy is, so to
as described by Goleman is ‘intuiting is emotional self-awareness. This
another’s feelings’ (1995:96). He claims competency is about knowing and
that empathy comes from being able to understanding the emotional self.
read non-verbal cues. It is more about Self-monitoring, by standing back and
how it is said rather than what is said. viewing the beginning teacher’s actions
Paying attention to how a message is and behaviours without superimposing
conveyed is a learned skill. yourself or your judgments, means the
sole focus is the beginning teacher. A
As a mentor you need to show the
mentor cannot focus on the beginning
beginning teacher that you sense
teacher if they are pre-occupied with
how they feel by ‘play(ing) back inner
their own issues and problems.
feelings in another way’ (Goleman
95:100). If your focus is on the problem As a mentor you are sensitive to your
or the task rather than the beginning beginning teacher, which by implication
teacher you may miss the underlying means ‘to be sensitive (to your beginning
factors that have led to the action or teacher) you must be sensitive to your
behaviour. As a mentor, you ‘sense how self’ (Boyatzis 2002:18).
to give effective feedback’ and ‘know
when to push for better performance
and when to hold back’ (Goleman
1998:101), because of your ability to


Part B: Day 2 learning guide 33

Personal competence Self-management Initiative: People who have a sense of
self-efficacy – who have what it takes
(self-awareness and Self-control: Those with emotional
to control their own destiny – excel in
self‑management) self-control find ways to manage their
initiative. They seize opportunities, or
disturbing emotions and impulses, and
create them, rather than simply waiting.
Self-awareness even to channel them in useful ways.
Such a person is always looking to create
A hallmark of self-control is the person
Emotional self-awareness: People better opportunities for the future.
who stays calm and clear-headed
high in self-awareness are attuned to
under high stress or during a crisis – or Optimism: A person who is optimistic
their inner signals, and recognise how
who remains unflappable even when can roll with the punches, seeing an
their feelings affect them and their
confronted by a trying situation. opportunity rather than a threat in
job performance. They are attuned
a setback. Such people see others
to their guiding values and can often Transparency: Those who are
positively, expecting the best of them.
intuit the best course of action, seeing transparent live their values.
And their ‘glass half-full’ outlook leads
the big picture in a complex situation. Transparency – an authentic openness to
them to expect that changes in the future
Emotionally self-aware people can be others about one’s own feelings, beliefs,
will be for the better.
candid and authentic, able to speak and actions – allows integrity. Such
openly about their emotions or with people openly admit mistakes or faults,
conviction about their guiding vision. and confront unethical behaviours in
others rather than turn a blind eye.
Accurate self-assessment: Those with
high self-awareness typically know their Adaptability: People who are adaptable
limitations and strengths, and exhibit a can juggle multiple demands without
sense of humour about themselves. They losing their focus or energy, and
exhibit a gracefulness in learning where are comfortable with the inevitable
they need to improve, and welcome ambiguities of organisational life. Such
constructive criticism and feedback. people can be flexible in adapting to new
Accurate self-assessment lets a person challenges, nimble in adjusting to fluid
know when to ask for help and where to change, and limber in their thinking in
focus in developing new strengths. the face of new data or realities.

Self-confidence: Knowing their abilities Achievement: Those with strength

with accuracy allows people to play to in achievement have high personal
their strengths. Self-confident people standards that drive them to constantly
can welcome a difficult assignment. seek performance improvements – both
Such people often have a sense of for themselves and those they lead.
presence, a self-assurance that lets them They are pragmatic, setting measurable
stand out in a group. but challenging goals, and are able to
calculate risk so that their goals are
worthy but attainable. A hallmark of
achievement is in continually learning –
and teaching – ways to do better.

34 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

Social competence Relationship management Building bonds: Those who relate well
to diverse individuals, establishing trust
(social awareness and Inspiration: People who are able to
and rapport within the organisation and
relationship management) inspire others both create resonance and
with external partners and networks, are
move people with a compelling vision or
able to cultivate a web of relationships.
Social awareness shared mission. Such people embody
what they ask of others, and are able to Teamwork and collaboration: Those
Empathy: Those with empathy are able
articulate a shared mission in a way that who are able team players generate
to attune to a wide range of emotional
inspires others to follow. They offer a an atmosphere of friendly collegiality
signals, letting them sense the felt, but
sense of common purpose beyond the and are themselves models of respect,
unspoken, emotions of a colleague or
day-to-day tasks, making work exciting. helpfulness and cooperation. They
team. Empathic people listen attentively
draw others into active, enthusiastic
and can grasp someone else’s Influence: Those adept in influence are
commitment to the collective effort,
perspective. Empathy makes a person persuasive and engaging when talking to
and build spirit and identity. They
able to get on well with people of diverse others. They are able to find just the right
spend time forging and cementing
backgrounds or from other cultures. appeal for a given listener to knowing
close relationships beyond mere work
how to build buy-in from key people and
Organisational awareness: Those obligations.
a network of support for an initiative.
with keen social awareness can be (Source: adapted from Fullan 2005:30–8.)
politically astute, able to detect crucial Conflict management: People who
social networks and read key power manage conflict best are able to draw
relationships. They can understand out all parties, understand the differing
the political forces at work in an perspectives, and then find a common
organisation, as well as the guiding ideal that everyone can endorse. They
values and unspoken rules that operate are able to acknowledge the feelings and
among people there. views of all sides, redirecting energies
toward a shared ideal.
Service: Those high in the service
competence foster an emotional climate
so that people directly in touch with
the customer or client will help keep
the relationship on the right track. They
monitor customer or client satisfaction
carefully to ensure they are getting what
they need. They also make themselves
available as needed.

Part B: Day 2 learning guide 35

5. Professional conversations

We tend to see ourselves Communication is a study in itself. There • Do you listen to understand, to make
primarily in the light of our are numerous books written about the art meaning, and to find common ground?
of conversation. One possible approach
intentions, which are invisible • Do you try to enlarge and possibly
adapted from Fred Kofman’s Conscious
to others, while we see others Business (2006:145–150) follows.
change your beginning teacher’s point
mainly in the light of their of view?
Underpinning the conversation between
actions, which are visible to us • Do you model an open-minded attitude;
the mentor and beginning teacher is
are you open to changing your point of
(J. G. Bennet cited in F. Kofman mutual purpose. In this relationship the
2006:133). overriding mutual purpose can be defined
as the joint endeavour to build and • Do you try to do your best thinking,
develop teacher practice. In preparing for expecting that your beginning teacher’s
a conversation the five mutual learning reflections will add to your thinking?
purposes to think about are: • Are you able to temporarily suspend
1. Learn their story: why did they take the your beliefs or judgments?
action they did? What was their motive? • Do you address problems
What experiences influenced their constructively?
actions? (use reflective questioning).
• Do you promote a sense of mutual
2. Tell your story: express what you saw, inquiry and collective knowledge?
thought and felt – clearly, respectfully
and honestly. (Remember the Ladder of • Are you able to respect your beginning
Inference.) teacher and seek to neither alienate nor
3. Develop a way forward together: having
heard both stories what possible • Are you able to evaluate what you
outcomes or actions are possible? have seen and help your beginning
teacher to reflect on their actions in a
4. Converse with respect: it’s no good productive and positive way?
having a conversation if there is a lack
of trust. • Are you able to concentrate on the
behaviour you have seen and talk
5. The environment is important: for about it in such a way that is critical
example, is there privacy? Is there but does not offer criticism? A critical
enough time? Are there any other issues conversation should always seek
that need to be addressed before this to build, but never demolish your
conversation takes place? beginning teacher’s confidence.
When talking about teaching practice with • Does your beginning teacher feel you
your beginning teacher, some questions understand them and their point of
to consider might be: view?
• Is the purpose of the conversation
clearly understood?
• Is your conversation collaborative and
cooperative – one that works towards a
shared understanding?

36 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

6. Mentoring stages

A mentoring relationship will go The SAGE mentoring program uses Reflective practice can consist of
through predictable stages as O’Mahony and Matthews’s model, methods which promote a deeper
which is explained here and illustrated awareness of the teaching process, such
the partnership and individuals
in figure 4 (2005: 71). Table 4 lists the as:
develop. (See Day 1 Learning behaviours associated with the three
Guide, page 21.) • journals
mentioned stages.
• formal and informal conferences
Figure 4: SAGE mentoring program model
• observations of each other
• reflective questioning strategies.
Stage Educators who use reflective practice:
• can make adjustments to the
Stage curriculum versus following a
prescribed path

• identify new ways to structure
Stage activities and routines
• develop or incorporate new strategies
for student achievement
First stage
• recognise methods that are effective.
The mentor assists the beginning
teacher in accomplishing specific Third stage
tasks related to their new position and
The beginning teacher is no longer
provides modelling of skills, sharing of
reliant on the mentor and can provide
strategies and observational feedback.
possible solutions to problems
Second stage encountered. The mentor can provide a
sounding board to discuss the beginning
The beginning teacher is more self-
teacher’s concerns and offer emotional
directed in the development of skills but
support. During this time, the mentor
also needs more consistent and frequent
relationship will begin to redefine into a
feedback. Directing the beginning
peer support and collegial relationship.
teacher to self-reflective practices will
assist them in evaluating their own Both the mentor and the beginning
progress. teacher need to be aware that the
mentoring relationship usually has a
finite period. The relationship does not
need to end at the completion of the
registration process. How it is ‘finished’
and celebrated should be negotiated
along the way as the relationship
changes to accommodate the new and
more collegial needs of both parties.

Part B: Day 2 learning guide 37

The focus of the mentoring relationship should be in response to the beginning
teacher’s needs and, as a result, is an evolving relationship. Figure 5 illustrates
the dynamic of the relationship.
Table 4: Typical behaviours associated with each stage of mentoring

What would you expect to see between a mentor (M) and a beginning teacher (BT) in a successful mentoring relationship that is
professional and equal.
First stage: The mentor assists the Second stage: The beginning teacher is Third stage: The beginning teacher is
beginning teacher in accomplishing more self-directed in the development of no longer reliant on the mentor and can
specific tasks related to their new skills but also needs more consistent and provide possible solutions to problems
position. The beginning teacher is more frequent feedback. The beginning teacher encountered. The beginning teacher and
dependent. grows increasingly independent. mentor are interdependent.
• M and BT discuss mutual expectations • M and BT give and receive feedback • M and BT:
and goals • M and BT challenge • two-way dialogues involving joint
• M builds trust and confidence • M and BT observe decision-making, problem-solving and
• M assists and demonstrates • M models authentic co-learning
• M offers advice and guidance • M assists BT in the development of • collaborative planning and assessment
• M acknowledges and praises effective teacher practice • alternating leadership
• M provides professional support • M offers options • reflective practice (use of open
• M models and makes explicit • M questions questions to expose assumptions, build
professional and competent • M facilitates and expects emergent trust, promote thinking and consider
performance independence alternatives)
• M explains and shares strategies\ BT • M promotes reflection • giving and receiving feedback
describes and self-discloses • M acknowledges and gives recognition • The mentoring relationship is gradually
• BT receptive and responsive to advice • BT confident and creative redefined as the goals are accomplished
• BT observes and analyses M’s practice • BT uses evidence for self-reflection and a supportive and collegial
• BT applies new knowledge and relationship develops.
• BT questions

Figure 5: Behavioural dynamic between mentor and beginning teacher

Mentor proactive Beginning teacher


Beginning teacher Mentor responsive


38 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

7. What Next?

As the year unfolds and the The following strategies have been How do I check that I am doing
beginning teacher moves suggested by O’Mahony and Matthews alright?
(2005: 99– 03) as being pertinent to the
through the phases of their
stages and phases along the mentoring • Ask your beginning teacher how they
learning and grows in confidence relationship in response to questions think the relationship is going.
and in their sense of efficacy posed by mentors.
• Ask them whether they feel they are
of themselves as a teacher,
the mentoring relationship How do I show I am interested in benefiting, and tell them that they are
helping them? being listened to.
moves through the three stages
• Use your observation skills and
discussed in the previous section. • Listen more than you talk, and ask
wisdom to alert yourself to signs
in body language of uneasiness,
• Ask open, reflective questions. discomfort or hesitation.
• Watch for body language clues and • Set goals and milestones for the
respond accordingly. mentoring relationship as measures of
• Talk about their interests and issues;
you are there to support them. • Define stages for achievement so
that you both know you are making
• Approach discussions in a way that
progress and can celebrate them.
is sensitive to the feelings of the
beginning teacher. • Remember mentors don’t enter into
relationships as experts purporting
• Don’t hurry, be prepared to slow down.
to know everything. They also want to
• Be flexible and open – you don’t just learn during the experience. As with
have to stick to school issues. anybody else, he or she might need
help advice and support in doing this.
Mentors need to ask themselves, ‘Who
mentors me?’ Identify at least one
person that you can turn to for advice.

Part B: Day 2 learning guide 39

What happens if things don’t go How do I ensure I am developing
as expected? my role as a high-quality mentor?
• With the best will in the world, • Determine what you mean by ‘high-
mentoring relationships do not always quality mentor’. Are there any
develop as we want or have planned. objective ways of measuring success?
It is important not to just press on
• Ask your beginning teacher what they
regardless if you are not getting on.
would see as high-quality mentoring.
• Diagnose first and make decisions What are the indicators?
later. Discuss these things openly.
• Prepare for sessions and set goals and
• Check out what your beginning teacher objectives.
thinks is happening and how they feel.
• Work by consensus and determine
• Reflect on your own concerns and ways to achieve this.
• Work out ways to disagree and handle
• Try to identify and describe problems difficult issues in the mentoring
in a detailed and specific way rather relationship.
than a generalised way.
• Discuss ways to handle conflict –
• Discuss a mechanism to put in place to should it arise – in the mentoring
handle difficulties and potential issues relationship.
of conflict in the relationship.
• Keep yourself up to date, and
• Use the program coordinator as a undertake professional development
possible mediator of relationship where necessary.
• Monitor progress – both your own and
• Check what provision there is or what that of your beginning teacher. Mark
procedures have been defined for achievements and celebrate success.
mentors or beginning teachers who are
• Regularly reflect on the progress of the
unhappy with their relationship.
• Make a plan for improvement or
recovery, and then monitor it.
• Agree to walk away if appropriate.
• Refer to Day 1 resources and further
readings section page 14.

40 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

8. Evaluating induction and

All school programs and initiatives Evaluating induction support

need to be evaluated in terms
1. Did the school-based induction support respond to your individual needs in
of their effectiveness; looking at
relation to:
what has worked well and what
could have been done differently. a r
Involving new teachers, those Understanding the role and work requirements
beginning, returning or new
Developing your teaching and learning practice
to positions, in evaluating and
developing future induction Developing your teaching capacity through multiple
support and taking a leading role sources of feedback
in the implementation of future Knowing who to approach for assistance and support
support is a strategy well worth Accessing the facilities and resources needed to carry
considering. out your responsibilities

Establishing good working relationships with colleagues

and school management

Understanding the policies, guidelines and procedures

of the workplace

Establishing clear work goals

Gaining acknowledgment and feedback from the principal
or their nominee

Gaining a sense of belonging to the school community

Contributing and sharing your knowledge, skills and

experiences with your colleagues

Involvement in collaborative curriculum planning

Access to a peer network

Providing access to offsite professional learning

opportunities to meet individual needs

Part B: Day 2 learning guide 41

2. How would you rate the induction support?
Not useful Slightly useful Moderately useful Very useful Highly Useful

3. How would you rate the following?

a. The mentor support you received?
Not useful Slightly useful Moderately useful Very useful Highly Useful
b. Your opportunities to observe and be observed?
Not useful Slightly useful Moderately useful Very useful Highly Useful
c. The support provided to critically reflect and self-monitor your own process?
Not useful Slightly useful Moderately useful Very useful Highly Useful

42 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

4. What were the most useful aspects of the induction support received?

5. What aspects of the induction support did you find least useful?

6. What additional activities should be included in future induction support

in your school?

Part B: Day 2 learning guide 43

9. Day 2 resources and further

A. Emotional intelligence Goleman asserts that while technical and management competencies are necessary
and matter, they do so as ‘threshold capabilities’ (1998:94). It is the components
and emotional of emotional intelligence that indicate outstanding performance. Figure 6 shows
competencies the importance of the personal and social competencies as enablers of effective
Exploring emotional
Figure 6: Becoming an effective mentor
competencies enables us not
only to examine what constitutes
emotional intelligence; we can Threshold capabilities –
also attempt to measure the you have these as an experienced teacher

level of emotional intelligence.
Emotional competencies Technical Competence Management Competence
e.g., your knowledge of VELS Increased effectiveness e.g., your planning and
refer to personal and social domains, principles of organisational skills, your
competencies: Learning & Teaching, use of resources and your
principles of professional ability to model effective
• The management of ourselves learning and VIT requirements. teaching practice.
(personal competence): self-awareness
and self-management Personal Competence Social Competence
e.g., your self-awareness and e.g., your ability to build trustful
• The influencing of others (social positive self-concept, your relationships, to engage in
competence): social awareness and flexibility, motivation and reflective inquiry and your highly
relationship management. knowing your own values. developed interpersonal and
communication skills.

Adaptive enablers
these help you to become an effective mentor
The message in this diagram suggests that a mentor needs to have more than a
‘significant’ amount of specific knowledge and be generally ‘more experienced’
than the beginning teacher. In addition, the mentor needs to be a well-regarded
professional with a passion for teaching and to possess the qualities that will enable
them to engage with integrity in a generous, trusting relationship committed to
shared personal and professional development.

44 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

B. Some further examples Abstract conceptualisation (so what?)

of reflective questions • Why do you think the lesson went so

The following reflective questions
as suggested by Barnett, O’Mahony • What have you learned from this
and Matthews (2004: 73) build on the experience?
material presented in Part A. • What cues did you use to know things
Concrete experience (what?) were not going well?

• What do you want to discuss? • What assistance do you need to

change the situation?
• What’s working, not working?
• What have you discovered about
• Tell me about ...? yourself? About your students?
• What’s on your mind? • What will you do (not do) again?
• How was your lesson?
• What do you think about? Planning for implementation (now
Reflective observation (what?) what?)

• What went as planned? • What are your next steps?

• Give me a few more details? • What do you expect to happen when

you ... ?
• What changes have occurred since we
last met? • What results are you trying to achieve?

• What was the best part of the lesson? • How will you know if your plan is
• How do you feel about the experience?
• How can you use what you have
• Can you tell me what the students
learned in another situation?
• How can I and others assist you in
reaching your goal?

Part B: Day 2 learning guide 45

C. Dealing with difficult Working on yourself: How to prepare 4. How is your attitude toward the
for the conversation. Before going into conversation influencing your
conversations the conversation, ask yourself some perception of it? If you think this
questions: What is your purpose for is going to be horribly difficult, it
The following article by Judy
having the conversation? What do you probably will be. If you truly believe
Ringer is included as a resource hope to accomplish? What would be an that whatever happens, some good
and draws on some of the latest ideal outcome? will come of it, that will likely be the
literature on conversations. Think case. Try to adjust your attitude for
1. You may think you have honourable
of a conversation you’ve been maximum effectiveness.
goals, like educating an employee or
putting off. Now read on. increasing connection with your teen, 5. Who is the opponent? What might they
only to notice that your language is be thinking about this situation? Are
There are dozens of books on the topic of
excessively critical or condescending. they aware of the problem? If so, how
difficult, crucial, challenging, important
You think you want to support, but do you think they perceive it? What are
(you get the idea) kinds of conversations.
you end up punishing. Some purposes their needs and fears? What solution
Those times when you know you should
are more useful than others. Work do you think they would suggest?
talk to someone, but you don’t. Maybe
on yourself so that you enter the Begin to reframe the opponent as
you’ve tried before and it went badly.
conversation with a supportive partner.
Or maybe you fear that talking will only
make the situation worse. Still, there’s a 6. What are your needs and fears? Are
feeling of being stuck, and you’d like to 2. What assumptions are you making there any common concerns? Could
free up that stuck energy for more useful about this person’s intentions? there be?
purposes. There are many well-written You may feel intimidated, belittled,
7. How have you contributed to the
and informative books on how to have ignored, disrespected or marginalised,
problem? How have they?
these important, crucial, and difficult but be cautious about assuming that
conversations. At the end of the article, that was their intention. Impact does
I list them. Get at least one and read it. not necessarily equal intent.
They’re all great.
3. What ‘buttons’ of yours are being
What you have here is a brief synopsis pushed? Are you more emotional than
of best practice strategies: a checklist the situation warrants? Take a look
of action items to think about before at your ‘back-story’, as they say in
going into the conversation; some the movies. What personal history is
useful concepts to practice during being triggered? You may still have
the conversation; and some tips and the conversation, but you’ll go into it
suggestions to help your energy stay knowing that some of the heightened
focused and flowing, including possible emotional state has to do with you.
conversational openings. You’ll notice
one key theme throughout: you have
more power than you think.

46 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

Four steps to a successful outcome Let them talk until they’re finished. Step 3: Advocacy
Don’t interrupt except to acknowledge.
The majority of the work in any conflict When you sense that they’ve expressed
Whatever you hear, don’t take it
conversation is work you do on yourself. all their energy on the topic, it’s your
personally. It’s not really about you. Try
No matter how well the conversation turn. What can you see from your
to learn as much as you can in this phase
begins, you’ll need to stay in charge perspective that they’ve missed? Help
of the conversation. You’ll get your turn,
of yourself, your purpose and your clarify your position without minimising
but don’t rush it.
emotional energy. theirs.
Step 2: Acknowledgment
Breathe, centre, and continue to notice For example: ‘From what you’ve told me,
when you become off-centre – and Acknowledgment means to show that I can see how you came to the conclusion
choose to return again. This is where you’ve heard and understood. Try to that I’m not a team player. And I think
your power lies. By choosing the calm, understand them so well you can make I am. When I introduce problems with
centred state, you’ll help your opponent/ their argument for them. Then do it. a project, I’m thinking about its long-
partner to be more centred, too. Explain back to them what you think term success. I don’t mean to be a critic,
they’re really going for. Guess at their though perhaps I sound like one. Maybe
Centring is not a step; centring is how
hopes and honour their position. They we can talk about how to address these
you are as you take the steps. (For more
won’t change unless they see that you issues so that my intention is clear’.
on centring, see the resource section at
see where they stand. Then they might.
the end of the article.) Step 4: Problem-solving
No guarantees.
Step 1: Inquiry Now you’re ready to begin building
Acknowledge whatever you can,
solutions. Brainstorming is useful, and
Cultivate an attitude of discovery and including your own defensiveness
continued inquiry. Ask your opponent/
curiosity. Pretend you don’t know if it comes up. It’s fine; it just is. You
partner what they think would work.
anything (you really don’t), and try to can decide later how to address it. For
Whatever they say, find something that
learn as much as possible about your example, in an argument with a friend I
you like and build on it.
opponent/partner and their point of said: ‘I notice I’m becoming defensive,
view. Pretend you’re entertaining a and I think it’s because your voice If the conversation becomes adversarial,
visitor from another planet, and find just got louder and sounded angry. I go back to inquiry. Asking for the other’s
out how things look on that planet, how just want to talk about this topic. I’m point of view usually creates safety, and
certain events affect them, and what the not trying to persuade you in either they’ll be more willing to engage.
values and priorities are there. direction’. The acknowledgment helped
If you’ve been successful in centring,
him (and me) to recentre.
If they really were from another planet, adjusting your attitude, and in engaging
you’d be watching their body language Acknowledgment can be difficult if we with inquiry and useful purpose, building
and listening for the unspoken energy as associate it with agreement. Keep them sustainable solutions will be easy.
well. Do that here. What do they really separate. My saying, ‘this sounds really
Practise, practise, practise! The art
want? What are they not saying? important to you,’ doesn’t mean I’m
of conversation is like any art – with
going to go along with your decision.
continued practice you acquire skill
and ease.
You, too, can create better working
and family relationships, ease
communication problems and improve
the quality of your work and home
environment. You’re on the way, and here
are some additional hints.

Part B: Day 2 learning guide 47

Tips and suggestions How do I begin? Resources
• A successful outcome will depend on Opening the conversation. In my Crunn, Thomas F, The Magic of Conflict,
two things: how you are and what you workshops, a common question is ‘How available at
say. How you are (centred, supportive, do I begin the conversation?’ Here are a
Stone Douglas, Patton Bruce & Heen
curious, problem-solving) will greatly few conversation openers I’ve picked up
Sheila, Difficult Conversations.
influence what you say. over the years – and used many times!
Patterson Kerry, Grenny Joseph,
• Acknowledge emotional energy – • ‘I have something I’d like to discuss
McMillan Ron & Switzler Al, Crucial
yours and theirs – and direct it towards with you that I think will help us work
Conversations, available at http://
a useful purpose. together more effectively.’
• Know and return to your purpose at • ‘I’d like to talk about … with you, but
FAQs about Conflict, by Judy Ringer. This
difficult moments. first I’d like to get your point of view.’
article can be found on the free articles
• Don’t take verbal attacks personally. • ‘I need your help with what just page at
Help your opponent/partner come happened. Do you have a few minutes
back to centre. to talk?’
• Don’t assume they can see things from • ‘I need your help with something. Can
your point of view. we talk about it (soon)?’ If they say,
‘Sure, let me get back to you,’ follow-
• Practise the conversation with a friend
up with them.
before holding the real one.
• ‘I think we have different perceptions
• Mentally practise the conversation.
about … I’d like to hear your thinking
See various possibilities and visualise
on this.’
yourself handling them with ease.
• ‘I’d like to talk about … I think we may
• Envision the outcome you’re hoping
have different ideas on how to …’
• ‘I’d like to see if we might reach a
better understanding about … I really
want to hear your feelings about this
and share my perspective as well.’
Write a possible opening for your
(Source: © 2005 Judy Ringer, Power & Presence

48 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

D. Principal perspectives on As soon as we appoint a beginning My responsibilities as an educational
teacher we assign them to a grade level leader of Ballarat North Primary School
induction and mentoring or specialist position and ultimately to a means that I am committed to providing
unit team. The school is arranged in unit quality learning activities that promote
The following case stories
teams as a strategy to nurture strong excellence and encourage students
illustrate the practice of two collegiate relationships. This provides and staff to understand learning as a
principals who have recently an additional layer of support to new life-long process and themselves as life-
employed a number of inductees and their mentors. long learners. I believe that knowledge,
beginning teachers. resources, skills and strategies shared
Our school’s induction and
among professionals are powerful
Lyn Gordon from Ballarat North Primary mentoring practices are strategic
motivators for growth and educational
School and comprehensive in that all new
change and no more so than for
teachers appointed to our school
Our leadership team supports beginning beginning teachers.
participate in a formalised Induction
teachers by ensuring staff new to Program aligned to Victorian Institute An effective mentoring relationship
our school are linked with a trained of Teaching (VIT) requirements and should be an active listening process
mentor usually situated in an adjoining Department of Education and Early based on mutual respect and trust in
classroom where they are readily Childhood Development (DEECD) which the benefits of the partnership
accessible for ongoing support and guidelines. The program starts prior to are reciprocal to both the mentor and
guidance. Timetables are arranged to teachers taking up their position at the beginning teacher, with the conversations
promote joint planning and facilitate school. New staff meet first with the shared enhancing the professional
sound curriculum and program principal and/or assistant principal to learning and growth of both.
development. Additional support is be familiarised with school procedures
also provided to graduate teachers in Feedback on our induction and mentoring
and expectations. Induction materials
preparation for full VIT registration. practices and processes is gathered by
include a comprehensive staff handbook.
This includes opportunities to observe direct feedback as part of the annual
New staff are invited to attend team
experienced teachers and participate review process, informal feedback on a
planning meetings prior to commencing
in collegiate classroom activities and daily basis and formal feedback via the
their teaching appointment. Curriculum
discussions. VIT registration process for provisionally
resources, program documents and
registered teachers. Feedback is
Beginning teachers are the future of classroom materials are also made
also sought and provided through
education and, as such, it is both the available.
the mentoring process and unit team
responsibility and obligation of schools Mentors at our school are experienced arrangement.
to ensure that they are well supported and accomplished practitioners with
in their early years of teaching through Our future plans include ensuring the
extensive teaching knowledge and skills
strong mentoring relationships involving sustainability of our mentoring program
who have completed the two-day mentor
caring, committed and passionate staff by a continuing commitment to the
support program. We are all mentors in
who are involved in quality teaching ongoing training of mentors through the
our own way and as a school we have
and learning and willing to share their mentor support programs.
adopted a collective responsibility to
knowledge and expertise. ensure new staff to our school are made
to feel welcome, involved, appreciated
and supported.

Part B: Day 2 learning guide 49

We promote reflection and resilience In a nutshell … Teaching and learning Beginning teachers are enthusiastic –
by encouraging staff to participate in a is the core business of all schools and they are interested in the profession and
range of professional learning activities research shows that it is teachers who passionate about making a difference in
at a variety of levels and to trial their make the difference. They are a school’s the lives of the students they teach and
newly acquired knowledge, skills and most valuable resource and are the key in taking on leadership roles once they
understandings in a supportive collegiate personnel in achieving school goals have settled into the college. They are
environment where quality conversations and targets. As a school we are mindful still learning their craft and appreciative
about teaching and learning occur on of our privileged position in inducting of any assistance and support given. We
a daily basis. All beginning teachers and mentoring beginning teachers, all need to remember back to when we
formulate an individual professional but are committed to enhancing the first started teaching and the difficulties
development plan in consultation with teaching practices and performance of we experienced. Beginning teachers are
their mentor and unit team in which all teachers. the future of the profession. They will
they identify areas to support their re-model good induction processes to
Ross Bevege from Berwick Secondary
professional practice and continuous others given time.
growth. Our school culture promotes
As soon as I appoint a beginning
the belief that a reflective teacher is My leadership team supports beginning
teacher or a new staff member, I ask the
a resilient teacher, and all staff are teachers by designating one of the
selection panel chairperson to notify
continuously reflecting on their practice assistant principals to organise
the assistant principal responsible for
asking and answering the question ‘How induction in term 1, and to work with
induction so that their induction to the
can we/I do this better?’ each beginning teacher throughout
college can be organised. All new staff
terms 2, 3, and 4. Domain leaders are
The ways our experienced and new are given a ‘buddy’. Beginning teachers
also given responsibility for helping new
teachers work together to improve will have a buddy and/or a mentor.
teachers with resources and curriculum
practice include staff working as
programs. At the start of term 2 all My school’s induction and mentoring
supportive and collegiate professional
domain leaders are asked to complete practices have been designed over
learning teams that meet on a weekly
an induction checklist with new teachers several years, and refined in consultation
basis. Teams work together to develop
to ensure that they have received all the with new staff and in response to their
and improve curriculum delivery,
necessary information and assistance. written feedback. The program is
formulate common assessment tasks,
Domain leaders are also expected designed to support beginning teachers
discuss and moderate student work
to ‘touch base’ with new teachers at to lay the foundation for learning and
samples, share teaching strategies and
the start of each term to ensure that professional growth. Generally, the
explore new DEECD initiatives. Teachers
they have the necessary resources, induction program begins at the end
also report back to their unit after
etc. Learning team leaders will often of the previous school year. New staff
attending professional development
assist new teachers with classroom are sent a letter of congratulations.
programs and support others to
management and discipline issues and They are also invited to attend a pre-
implement new teaching approaches.
with parent contact. In 2008 the college commencement (induction) day. The
adopted a relational learning focus, structure of this pre-commencement day
where home group teachers and class has evolved over the years and has been
teachers are asked to develop classroom informed by participant feedback. It is
relational plans and programs that build structured so new teachers to the college
better relationships between students can meet and work with colleagues –
and/or teachers. A relational learning particularly their program leader and/or
leader has been appointed to assist staff support person (buddy) on curriculum-
in this endeavour. related matters. To foster collegiality,
new staff members are invited to a
50 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors
morning tea in their particular program An effective mentoring relationship We promote reflection and resilience
area and to lunch with their program should foster rapport and support. by our performance and development
area ‘buddy’ and the principal team. Mentors should be able to gauge process, which is based on a teacher
During the initial stages of employment, when their partner is concerned or in inquiry where staff are encouraged to
and particularly in their first term, new need of assistance, etc. It should be a work in teams on a project related to
teachers are given additional support partnership or collaboration and involve the college strategic plan. Teachers can
and acknowledgment. On the first day time where the partners talk, listen do in-house professional development
of the school year, new staff are formally and provide insightful feedback. This in support of their teacher inquiry. The
introduced at the first staff meeting and feedback should be reciprocal, involving results of these teacher inquiries need
whole school assembly. Throughout open and honest communication, not be perfect. We expect teachers to
term 1, the college runs a series of providing encouragement and assistance learn by trial and error and to reflect and
opportunities through the professional to meet goals or learning objectives. evaluate their work. Teachers also collect
development calendar to acquaint Mentors need to build confidence, be two sources of feedback in this process.
new staff with college processes and patient and set appropriate challenges Many use student feedback surveys
to provide an opportunity for staff to that will stretch their beginning teacher’s and collegiate activities, but beginning
ask questions and clarify common knowledge and skills. Finally, the teachers do not complete these projects.
issues around curriculum, student relationship should be non-judgmental Their VIT evidence is sufficient to show
management, school decision-making, and based on trust. In a mentoring that they have met the professional
committees, professional development, relationship the mentor will need standards for incremental progression.
annual reviews, employment conditions, to change roles depending on the
The ways our experienced and new
report writing and parent–teacher circumstances.
teachers work together to improve
interviews. During first semester, I have
Feedback on our induction and practice includes the use of flexible
a chat with all new staff to monitor their
mentoring practices and processes learning spaces where teachers are
progress and to collect feedback on
is gathered by conducting our own encouraged to work in teams to complete
college programs and processes. In term
induction effectiveness survey each collaborative projects. Many beginning
2, the induction program shifts focus to
year at the end of term 4. The college teachers usually work in these teams
provide ongoing support.
also sought feedback on its induction with more experienced staff. First-year
Mentors at my school are experienced processes through DEECD’s performance teachers are also allocated a one period
teachers who have shown an interest in and development culture accreditation. allowance in their allotment; that is,
helping others. They generally share the they teach one less period and have
Our future plans include trying to
same subject discipline, faculty office one more free period for correction and
find an effective way of inducting
and may teach at the same year levels. preparation.
staff members who begin their stay
Mentors have different strengths and
with us during the year usually on In a nutshell … an effective induction
understand that they are not expected
short-term contracts. In 2008, we put program involves a whole-school
to be ‘experts’ but someone who guides
together an induction folder for casual approach – welcoming and assisting
others in a learning process.
relief teachers (CRTs) providing basic new staff is the responsibility of all
My responsibilities as the educational information about the college and its leaders and teachers in our college –
leader of my school means that I foster processes. New CRTs are happy to particularly because we are so large
positive relationships, collegiality and receive this information to guide them and geographically diverse.
develop teacher leadership and potential in their work in their first few days.
to maximise the school’s capabilities and
to improve student achievement.

Part B: Day 2 learning guide 51

E. Case stories from the This culture is modelled by the school The group of beginning teachers and
leadership team. The principal and their mentors meet every fortnight
induction and mentoring assistant principals take responsibility throughout the year. These meetings are
evaluation for the induction process, and mentors a forum for professional development,
are selected from the school’s leading covering topics such as professional
These case stories are taken teachers and coordinators. Being language, behaviour management,
from the 2008 external chosen as a mentor is seen as an interacting with parents and
evaluation of the induction and acknowledgment of the valuable assessment. Beginning teachers are able
mentoring initiative. They provide expertise and experience you can bring to raise issues and questions as they
representative examples of to the task. arise. This group engagement increases
the support a beginning teacher can
effective induction and mentoring An induction day for new teachers is
draw on. One remembered that ‘My
practice in schools. held during term 4 of the previous year.
mentor was available to me or other
The principal and assistant principals
The supportive school culture graduate teachers any day, all day’.
address the group and explain the
The beginning teachers from Iramoo culture of the school before each Leading teachers are often in beginning
Primary School give it top marks for its leading teacher talks about their area teacher classes to help with literacy
induction and support program. It is of responsibility, such as literacy, and numeracy programs, but this is
clear that the school has the processes numeracy, middle years, etc. The new always done in a spirit of peer support,
in place to give beginning teachers a teachers also find out what class they rather than assessment. One beginning
great start, but the processes grow out will have and they are given information teacher reported that frequent visits
of a school culture that recognises their specific to that year level. Each new by her mentor were welcome because
contribution and sends a consistent teacher is given a pack containing a her mentor came to know the students
message. book of school policies, a profile of well. Patricia Viscusa notices that
who the students are and the kind of beginning teachers at Iramoo Primary
Patricia Viscusa, a mentor and leading backgrounds from which they come, School appreciate the way other
teacher, says, ‘We start with the view a school vest and a name tag. The teachers visit and help. ‘They do not feel
that they are qualified teachers, they induction includes a school tour, and threatened and are really receptive to
have passed their degree, and we’re new teachers are shown where each unit colleague visits. They are open to honest
not here to assess them. We are here to keeps the resources they will have at constructive feedback and are often able
support them and for us to learn from their disposal. to reflect on their practices at a high
each other. “Respect, Responsibility and level.’
Relationships” is our school motto for New teachers also meet the students
children and staff, and we have tried to they will teach the following year, which Graduates are also invited to choose
make our support for beginning teachers makes for a more comfortable and another teacher, in addition to their
consistent with that’. relaxed start in term 1. Any teacher who mentor, to visit and observe.
is appointed too late to take part in the
The beginning teachers are surveyed at
induction day can take advantage of
the end of term 1 to find out how they
the fact that it is repeated just before
are settling in and how the school might
school commences in term 1. Beginning
improve its induction program. The
teachers are invited to contact the IT
principal has an informal meeting with
coordinator to ensure they have access
beginning teachers to welcome them,
to a laptop at the start of term 1, and
and later in the year invites them to drop
they can access their edumail from the
by individually for a chat.
first day of employment.

52 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

The way Iramoo Primary School The secondary school One of the highlights for the beginning
approaches the Victorian Institute of teachers from Sebastopol who came to
When you are running a focus group
Teaching’s registration process is also the evaluation focus group (and the thing
about how schools support their
informed by their school culture. Again, which made them the envy of everyone
beginning teachers, the beginning
beginning teachers are treated as else in the room) was being given a CD
teachers from Sebastopol Secondary
qualified professionals. The mentors and containing a comprehensive package
College stand out. They are the ones
beginning teachers set a timeline so that of teaching materials – an outline
who say to almost every issue raised,
any requirements are met progressively of every lesson, with handouts and
‘Actually our school was really good
throughout the year. This support saves resources. While it doesn’t suggest how
at that’ or ‘That was really clearly laid
beginning teachers from the term 4 the beginning teacher should approach
out for us’. More unusual was the fact
rush, when they are also writing reports each lesson, the package does provide
that this was a secondary school, as
and applying for jobs, and is greatly wonderful support to get them started
experience suggests that secondary
appreciated. and in tune with their colleagues.
schools sometimes find it more difficult
There is ongoing discussion about the to establish coherent, school-wide The beginning teachers are timetabled
presentation of evidence, and models approaches to induction and mentoring. together for a meeting with Gary every
from previous years are provided week while the rest of the school is
At Sebastopol Secondary College
as a guide. Beginning teachers are having their ‘tutor group’, or form group
beginning teachers, and other teachers
encouraged to collate and present their meetings. Initially, these meetings cover
who are new to the school, start the
evidence in a professional manner ‘the basic mechanics of how things work
school year a day before everyone else.
and mentors are available to provide in the school’, including descriptions
They are briefed by the school leadership
feedback on draft samples. The of the various programs and activities
team and spend time with the staff
recommendation process occurs in the and suggestions about what beginning
service manager, Gary Ebbels, who
first few weeks of term 4 and involves teachers might find useful to get involved
explains the ongoing support they will
a discussion and presentation of the in. The program is structured, but there
receive during the year. They meet with
evidence to the principal’s nominee and is always room for beginning teachers
their department heads and are shown
two mentors. It is also an opportunity to raise issues or problems. The group
around the school.
for the beginning teachers to share then works together to come up with
their learning journey, receive feedback There is an induction plan for new staff, solutions, or experienced staff might be
on their evidence and celebrate with a checklist to ensure everyone is invited in to assist.
achievements. If there are any issues allocated a desk, assigned a laptop,
The group also works together each
or concerns these are raised with the connected to edumail, given the syllabus
week to address the VIT registration
beginning teacher earlier in the year. for their classes and so on. New teachers
requirements. Topics covered one by
also receive a package of resources
The beginning teachers at Iramoo one include classroom management,
including a school diary, whiteboard
Primary School are working with some preparing lesson plans, assessment,
markers and other classroom essentials.
young teachers who started out in and other staff might join the group for
other schools. They understand that a topic in which they have particular
the culture at Iramoo is not found expertise. The group discusses the issue,
everywhere. They know how lucky the different approaches they might take
they are. in different learning areas, and possible
ways of gathering and presenting
evidence for their VIT registration. The
beginning teachers then bring back a
draft the following week.

Part B: Day 2 learning guide 53

While these meetings take the teachers Around the end of third term, each Leading by example
through the VIT registration process, beginning teacher submits their
At some schools, the principal and the
they are also being supported in evidence for registration to a panel
leadership team take a close interest
curriculum and pedagogy by mentors of senior staff who read it thoroughly
in the development and progress of
from their own departments. This and make notes. The panel then meets
beginning teachers. Phillip Hines,
includes the usual collegiate teaching with the beginning teacher to discuss
principal of Fyans Park Primary School,
and observation opportunities. their achievements, congratulate them
takes the approach that these are the
on their hard work, and invite them to
Second and third year teachers continue educational leaders of the future. The
reflect on their year. On rare occasions
to work with mentors, though this is a school, and the profession, will benefit
the panel might also suggest that a little
less structured arrangement. They also from any initial investment in their
more thought or evidence is required in a
assist new graduates through informal induction and development. At Edenhope
specific area. More often, the work of the
mentoring and social interactions. P–12 College, the principal also has
beginning teacher significantly exceeds
The college also has a professional a close working relationship with
the expectations of the school (and VIT
development program in which all beginning teachers, and makes sure they
requirements). At the end of this process,
staff participate, learning through peer are given all the information they need to
the results are presented to the principal
observation and structured feedback. succeed.
for endorsement.
Regular Professional Learning Team In 2008, an influx of beginning teachers
At the end of the year, the school
meetings give staff an opportunity to at Fyans Park Primary School inspired
presents each beginning teacher with
share what they have learnt, or to narrow the principal to formally implement some
a framed certificate, signed by the
in on particular themes (e.g. effective ideas he had been turning over in his
principal, to mark their transition to full
ways to begin classes). This is obviously mind. As soon as a teacher is appointed
a rich source of information and insight they are invited to the school for a
for beginning teachers. Induction plans, timetabling, structured comprehensive tour and a discussion
programs, practical support and peer-to- with the principal. They are also invited
Twice during the year the beginning
peer learning – all of these things come to spend time at the school before it ends
teachers are taken out to dinner by the
together to provide new teachers with a for the year, if their work commitments
school leadership team to discuss how
running start at a challenging career. allow.
they are settling in, and whether there
are other things they feel they could offer Many then come in to school during the
the students or the school. summer break to liaise with department
leaders and pick up planning documents
and resources so that they are ready to
start. While everyone expects beginning
teachers to spend their first few days
and weeks learning, the reality is that
in teaching you have to hit the ground
running. On the first day the principal
invites Prep parents to a celebratory
morning tea soon after drop-off, which
is excellent community engagement and
a great kindness to the Prep teachers,
especially the new ones.

54 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

After that the future leaders in education Next year, the program will move into After that there are two formal staff
program begins. It exposes beginning a new phase, building an ongoing induction meetings per term with the
teachers to positive feedback and sound coaching relationship between the principal and the VIT Coordinator.
development of their teaching skills. principal and the beginning teachers. Teachers in first, second and third year
It also gives them a sounding board The focus will shift to deeper reflections attend and lunch is provided. Each
as they work their way through first- about effective teaching practice. And meeting has a particular focus, such
year challenges. It involves fortnightly from there, he hopes these beginning as report writing, conducting parent–
meetings with the principal, assistant teachers will end up coaching each other teacher interviews and classroom
principal and a leading teacher with key and new teachers as they come into the management (which is first cab off the
responsibilities. All new teaching staff school. rank, and often raised in subsequent
are welcome. Meetings run for 30–45 meetings).
At Edenhope P–12 College, they start
minutes, and either address a theme
the induction process off with possibly The beginning teachers also meet
chosen by the principal, or they are
the best-ever induction pack. Before regularly with their mentors, and engage
thrown open for beginning teachers to
the start of the school year, new staff in collegiate teaching opportunities with
raise issues and questions. Information
receive a package containing a booklet mentors and others. Domain leaders play
about how to develop professional
about the school (which also goes to a vital role in inducting and supporting
relationships with parents, for example,
first-time families), school policies, a new teachers, and the school is
is provided early and often. This is a
map of the school, bell times, a photo conscious that another member of staff
non-threatening forum where beginning
of staff from the previous year (with should be asked to step in to support the
teachers can really come to grips with
names), a list of teachers and their areas induction role when a new domain leader
their concerns. One new teacher couldn’t
of responsibility, term dates, the school has just been appointed.
understand why he was having so much
calendar for the year, the teacher’s class
trouble with lesson planning until his The professional development
list and timetable, even the canteen list.
peers suggested he was trying to put in coordinator for the school makes sure
too much detail and might need to leave New staff meet with the principal on the that beginning teachers are informed
more room for ‘flow’. first day back, tour the school and then about professional development
meet with the staff in their domain areas. opportunities, and the school
The leadership team asks for honesty.
(Many have spent time in the school the encourages beginning teachers to make
Even future leaders need to admit they
year before or over the break.) In some the most of them.
are struggling with something before
domains the secondary teachers will
they can resolve it. Department leaders When school leaders take an interest in
be given the syllabus for the year and
can also suggest topics that the principal beginning teachers, it seems to foster
teaching materials for at least the first
might usefully cover with the beginning a welcome that is orderly, sustained,
topic. Over the first few days, beginning
teachers. consistent and nurturing.
teachers learn the ‘nitty-gritty’ about
The experienced teachers on staff the school day – how the day proceeds,
embrace the program as an excellent where the students are allowed and not
opportunity for beginning teachers, and allowed to be, who’s expected to be at
are sometimes invited in to lend their meetings, and so on.
expertise in relevant themed meetings.
The principal believes the program ‘firms
us up as a team’.

Part B: Day 2 learning guide 55

F. High-quality mentoring Moving toward … Moving away from …
and induction practices Rigorous mentor selection based Choosing mentors without criteria or an
on qualities of an effective mentor: explicit process:
The following resource is taken
Qualities may include: evidence Without strong criteria and a rigorous
from the New Teacher Centre of outstanding teaching practice, selection process, there is a risk that
in America and is aimed at strong intra- and inter-personal skills, mentors may be chosen based more on
‘education leaders who are experience with adult learners, respect availability or seniority, rather than their
seeking to create and/or improve of peers, and current knowledge of qualifications to engage in meaningful
induction programs with professional development. interactions with beginning teachers.
practices that support teacher Ongoing professional development Insufficient professional development and
retention, teacher development and support for mentors: support for mentors:
and improved student learning’. Effective teachers don’t always know Without initial, and ongoing, high-quality
what it is about their teaching that training to support their development,
is effective. Many mentors are also mentors miss out on the guidance and
surprised to find that translating professional community they need
knowledge to students is not the same regarding the complex practice of
as translating knowledge to adults. developing beginning teachers and
High-quality and ongoing training, strategising for the challenges they face.
as well as a professional learning
community, are needed to help
mentors develop the skills to identify
and translate the elements of effective
teaching to beginning teachers.

Sanctioned time for mentor–teacher Meetings happen occasionally or

interactions: ‘whenever the mentor and teacher are
Mentors need sanctioned time to focus available’:
on beginning teacher development. Often both parties are so busy that
Mentors and beginning teachers meeting time gets relegated down the list
should have 1.25–2.5 hours per of priorities. The short fragments of time
week to allow for the most rigorous that may be found are typically insufficient
mentoring activities. That time for fostering real relationships and growth.
should be protected by teachers and

56 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

Moving toward … Moving away from …

Intensive and specific guidance moving Non-specific, emotional or logistical

teaching practice forward: support alone:
Focusing on professional teaching Emotional support is important, but
standards and the appropriate content alone is not sufficient to improve teacher
area standards allows for instructional practice. Without specific instructional
growth to help teachers know concretely feedback, mentoring can not impact
how to improve. For example: ‘Let’s look student learning. For example: ‘You’re
at your assessment data and talk about doing a great job, Jane. Keep it up!’
what strategies will help you address
the concern you had about reaching
your struggling English Language
Learner students’.

Professional teaching standards and Informal and non-evidenced based

data-driven conversations: feedback:
Just like student learning, beginning The rigor of the program may be
teacher learning should be data driven compromised when interactions are too
and standards based. To be effective, often based on informal conversation and
feedback to beginning teachers must opinions not drawn from evidence. Without
be grounded in evidence about their a structure and focus on real-time data
practice, including information gathered derived from beginning teacher practice,
through classroom observations and interactions may not result in improved
student work. Use of professional teaching practice.
teaching standards, documentation
of mentoring conversations, and data
collection on various components of
classroom practice ensures a solid
structure for focusing on continuous
instructional growth.

Ongoing beginning teacher Professional development NOT specifically

professional development: tailored to the needs of beginning
Beginning teachers benefit from a teachers:
professional learning community that Novices are in a unique developmental
is guided by professional teaching phase that can not be addressed by
standards and the appropriate content ‘one size fits all’ workshops or training.
area standards, and focused on teacher Professional development disconnected
development, problem-solving and from teacher needs can feel irrelevant, at
mutual support. Opportunities such best and, in many situations, only serves to
as regularly scheduled seminars overwhelm beginning teachers.
and online learning communities
provide a context for rich networking,
professional dialogue and reflection, as
well as combating isolation.
Part B: Day 2 learning guide 57
Moving toward … Moving away from …
Clear roles and responsibilities for Lack of training/communication with
administrators: administrators:
Administrators play a critical role Without clearly articulated strategies to
in setting the stage for beginning support beginning teachers, and protect
teacher and mentor success, creating induction activity time, principals may
time for induction, and establishing inadvertently undermine the prospects
a positive culture for teacher of beginning teacher success (e.g.,
development in their buildings and in assigning beginning teachers the most
the system. Professional development challenging classes, assigning additional
for administrators and ongoing responsibilities, or not anticipating their
communication with them about needs for basic resources).
the needs of new teachers and the
nature of the program ensures that
they understand their role in fully
supporting induction.
Collaboration with all stakeholders: Isolated programming and lack of
Strong communication and alignment:
collaboration among stakeholders, Without strong partnerships and
including administration, school alignment, instructional initiatives can
boards, union/association leadership, be undermined. Beginning teachers may
and professional partners, creates a receive mixed messages from varying
culture of commitment and ensures support providers, and feel overwhelmed,
success. confused and frustrated by all the
different layers of information coming at

58 A Learning Guide for Teacher Mentors

References and further readings

References Garmston, RJ & Wellman, BM (2000), Scharmer, C Otto, Addressing the Blind
The Adaptive School: Developing and Spot of Our Time, available at www.
Achieve Global (2006), Giving and
Facilitating Collaborative Groups,
Receiving Constructive Feedback:
Christopher-Gordon Publishers, Exec_Summary.pdf
Participant Workbook.
Norwood Massachusetts.
Senge P, Cambron-McCabe N, Lucas T,
Barnett, Bruce G, O’Mahony, Gary R &
Goleman, D (1995), Emotional Smith, B, Dutton J & Kleiner A (2000),
Matthews, Robin J (2004), Reflective
Intelligence, Bantam, New York. Schools that Learn A Fifth Discipline
Practice: The Cornerstone for School
Fieldbook for Educators, Parents, and
Improvement, Hawker Brownlow Hargreaves, A & Fullan, M (2000),
Everyone Who Cares About Education,
Education, Heatherton Victoria. ‘Mentoring in the New Millennium’
Doubleday, New York.
in Theory into Practice, Vol. 39, No.
Boyatzis, R, (2002), Core Competencies
1, College of Education, Ohio State Senge, P, Kleiner, A, Roberts, C, Ross,
in Coaching Others to Overcome
University. R & Smith, B (1994), The Fifth Discipline
Dysfunctional Behaviour, available at
Fieldbook, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, Kofman, Fred (2006), Conscious
Business, Sounds True, USA.
Costa, Arthur L (2006), Dimensions of
Ussher, W (2001), Reflective Practice:
Learning Conference Session Papers, Lacey, K (1999), Making Mentoring
Evaluative Lecturers Empowering
Hawker Brownlow Education. Happen: A Simple and Effective Guide to
Students during Teaching: Practicum
Implementing a Successful Mentoring
Covey, Stephen R (1986), The Seven Interviews, Paper at ATEA conference.
Program, Business and Professional
Habits of Highly Effective People
Publishing Ltd. Further readings
Facilitation Program, Franklin Covey Co,
United States. Lang, C (1999), ‘When does it get any Patterson, Kerry et al. (2002), Crucial
easier? Beginning Teachers experiences Conversations: Tools for Talking when
—— (1989), The Seven Habits of Highly
during their first year of teaching’, Stakes are High, McGraw-Hill, New York
Effective People, The Business Library,
Paper presented at the AARE-NZARE
Melbourne Victoria. Rosenberg, Marshall (2003), Non-violent
Conference, Melbourne.
Communication: A Language of Life,
Department of Education and Early
O’Mahony, Gary R & Matthews, Robin J Puddle Dancer Press, Encinitas, CA.
Childhood Development, Victoria
(2005), A Climate of Mentoring Building
(2008), Principal Class Performance Stone, Douglas et al. (1999), Difficult
Teams for School Improvement, Hawker
and Development Support Materials: Conversations: How to Discuss What
Brownlow Education, Heatherton
Collegiate Group Toolkit, at www. Matters Most, Viking, New York.
teachlearn/leader/pcpd_collegiate_ Parker Boudett, Kathryn, City, Elizabeth
group_toolkit-gdl-20070831.pdf A & Murnane, Richard J (2005), Data
Wise: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using
Department of Education, Victoria
Assessment Results to Improve Teaching
(2006), Induction in Effective Schools
and Learning, Harvard Education Press,
Cambridge Massachusetts.
Induction_in_Effective_schools.pdf Salzman, J (2003) Becoming a Mentor –
are you fit for the job? Hawker Brownlow
Fullan, Michael (2005), Education in
Education, Heatherton Victoria.
Motion Leading in a Culture of Change,
Australia Workshop Tour.

Part B: Day 2 learning guide 59