Six Steps to Powerful Teacher Mentoring

that creates Evidence of Practice for both Educators

Teacher Mentors! You rock! You help develop skills and impact in your colleagues.  By sharing your skills, knowledge and expertise you are not only a kick-ass leader, but you are also demonstrating aspects of the Highly Accomplished career stage of the Australian Professional Standard for Teachers.

One of the main reasons we love Edufolios is that it unites teachers and supports them to support each other as we grow our practice.  Right now, all over the country, thousands of pre-service teachers are on practicum (or completing their internship) and thousands more are working towards full registration (and the proficient stage of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers).  

They’ve each got a teacher mentor  who will be guiding them through their learning journey.  

The question is… 

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do those mentor teachers realise that simply by guiding these fledgling educators, they could be gathering a rather large slice of highly accomplished evidence for their own teacher portfolios?

Edufolios has some very cool tools to help both parties use our awesome teacher portfolio to get the best out of the teacher mentor process.  Here’s how.

1. Let’s Acknowledge that all Teachers are Learners

First of all, it’s important to recognise, in each party, that you’re both going to go on some kind of learning journey here. 

Both the mentor and the mentee (whether they’re practicum or getting some advice for the proficient career stage) are learning something and growing their skills.  You should both be documenting this journey in your teacher portfolio.

Of course, you might be working at different career stages but you’ll both want to get some evidence of impact out of this. 

That’s where an Edufolio can help.  The tools and frameworks we give you will make it much easier to demonstrate how your learning is complementing each others’ growth.  There’s more on how to create an awesome mentor relationship here.

2. Connect and Collaborate in your Teacher Portfolios

Use the Collaborate tool in Edufolios to connect up your teacher portfolios. 

If the other party doesn’t have an Edufolio, then they’ll just have to cope without all the wiz-bang support tools (the standards guide for example) that you’ve got. 

Just make sure that you are able to connect your reflections and read each other’s. If you can do so without having to make the evidence public then you can also add a step where you can check the focus areas you’ve selected before publishing.

Make sure to comment on each other’s reflections.  If someone is having an impact on your practice, share that with them in the comments. That gives them the option to use your words (either in your reflection or the comments) as an artefact to demonstrate the impact they’ve ahd on your and your students. 

3. Start with a learning Goal (for both of you)

You have learning goals for the students in your classroom and you need them for yourselves too. 

Have a meeting together and use the teaching standards to identify where your strengths and gaps are. 

If you’re both use Edufolios for your teacher portfolio then you’ll be able to bring out your heat maps for this one.  Our heat mapping tools use the evidence inside your teacher portfolio to show you where you’ve got gaps.   

The key thing here is that you both (mentor and mentee) understand what you need and want out of this mentoring relationship. 

The mentee needs to be able to show where they were at on their last prac (or where they’d like to be next) and the Mentor needs to understand what he or she is hoping to get at the highly accomplished career stage too.  Mentors, pick a target for your Mentee but also one for yourself and take a good look at standard 6.1 as you go! 

STOP! Reflection Time

Time to stop and add some reflection to your teacher portfolios.  You’re both going to write about the same things but you’ll be framing the conversation a little differently.  You’re both going to start by talking about the mentee’s targets. “What targets have been set and why?”. You’ll both write an evidence post in which you talk about what evidence you’ve used to determine these targets.  You’re both going to talk about this assessment process and how you’ve either helped your mentee to understand their gaps and strengths, or how you’ve come to your targets.

Artefacts for this might include:

  • Prac. reports
  • Lesson observations
  • A problem faced right now by the mentee in the classroom.
  • Assessment of pupils work.

Now here’s how your evidence post ends. Things start to change here dependant on your role here…

Mentee
  • How do you think you might meet these targets?
  • Did anything happen in the past (previous pracs/classes) that might help you meet your target?
  • Is there anything you need to do/read to prepare?
  • How will you know you’ve met them?
Teacher Mentor
  • How are you going to assist your mentee to reach their target?
  • What have you done already? What resources will you be passing their way?
  • How will you help them to know when they’ve met their target?
  • How do you think your mentoring relationship is going?  What have you learnt about your own practice as a result of these conversations?

4. Now go Teach!

Now’s the time for the mentee to have a go at meeting whatever the targets were.   The teacher mentor will be there as a guide on the side to give advice and support.  This could look like checking over lesson plans, answering questions about pedagogies (or teaching strategies), relationships or content and much more.  At some point, the teacher mentor will observe the mentee to see how they’re going with their targets. 

Any lesson observations should also have a specific focus (usually chosen from the targets) so that it’s easier to have a good, detailed conversation about it later. Have a listen to this podcast to find out more 

STOP! Reflection Time

Whilst all this teaching is happening there should be plenty of opportunity to write reflectively about what you’re experiencing. Both as a teacher mentor and a mentee.

Have you given or implemented anything you advised to try?

 How’d that go? 

Mentees: every time you write about how great some advice you’ve implemented are yuo  able to talk about the impact that’s had on your students and your own understanding of your practice?  If you can, then you’re ticking the Highly Accomplished box for your mentor.

 Mentors: every time you write about the progress you’re seeing in your mentee you’re helping to gather evidence for the mentee to demonstrate their growth too. Win Win!

5. Meet and Share Learning

During their prac or during their normal teaching time, after you’ve observed the mentee or the mentee feels that they have enough evidence to show progress (and the impact of that progress), it’s time for a meeting!

Go through the evidence you’ve got. Some of it may well be in their teacher portfolio.  The artefacts to look for  might be:

  • Lesson observation notes
  • Student data
  • Marked work
  • Lesson Plans
  • Reflections in your Edufolio. (you can hyperlink back to older posts)

Review the targets you set in Step 3.

Did you meet them? 

Do you find anything surprising whilst you worked on them?

Have a good chat, use the standards guide to help you do so.

Return to Step 3 and start again!

Learning and reflecting is often a cyclical process.  That’s why it’s always much easier to write and reflect as you go, rather than leaving it all to the end.  By the time you’ve set a target, practised and presented your new skills you  should be half way through step 3 again.  It’s time to celebrate any progress and begin on a new target!

6. Don’t forget to comment on each other’s posts.

One of the hardest pieces of evidence to come by is often a testimonial.  Make sure that you take the time to read each others’ reflections. Not only will you learn so much more from each other by seeing the same set of evidence from different perspectives, but you’ll also have the opportunity to reply. 

Comment and say thanks, share something that you thought the other person might have forgotten to mention.  Be there to share good news and say thank you. Help each other to make IMPACT visible. 

 

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