Standard 2.3: Mentor selection
Information on mentor recruitment, selection, and assignment is provided in great detail in Standard 5, and information on mentor training is provided in Standard 6. These areas are so important to the design of induction/mentoring programs that they are summarized below.
It is vital to select and train teachers to serve in the role of instructional mentor. Selecting the right candidates for the position is perhaps the most important element of the mentoring program, and much care should be given to addressing this.
Qualities that should be encouraged include the following:
- Evidence of outstanding teaching practice
- Strong personal and interpersonal skills
- Knowledge of content and context appropriate for the age span of the students the beginning teacher will teach
- Openness and flexibility
- Ability to maintain a confidential and professional relationship
- Knowledge of school and district policies and procedures
- Genuine desire and interest in supporting the diverse learning needs of beginning teachers
- Respect of peers
- Current knowledge of professional development and experience with adult learners
Mentors should also be those teachers who have a strong ability to respect confidential matters, as a trusting relationship between mentor and the beginning teacher is vital to the success of the program.
The mentor recruitment and selection process should be consistent at each site and should involve a formal application process.
Additional information on mentor selection is provided in Standard 5.
Initial Mentor Training
Once mentors are selected, program leaders need to consider how to provide them with training before they begin meeting with their beginning teachers. There are several groups around the state and country that offer intensive training and support for mentors. Included among these are the New Teacher Center, Induction for the 21st Century Educator (ICE21), Consortium for Educational Change, and the Illinois New Teacher Collaborative among many others.
Initial training for mentors should involve the following information:
- Roles, responsibilities, qualities, and characteristics of mentors
- Rationale for mentoring
- Research on effective mentoring and best practices
- Stages of beginning teacher development and the needs of beginning teachers
- Adult Learning Theory and characteristics of adult learners
- Building a trusting relationship
- Conferencing techniques
- Effective listening and questioning strategies
- The coaching cycle and formative assessment
- Program expectations and required documentation
- Checklists and tools to use
Additional information on mentor training is provided in Standard 6.
Ongoing Mentor Support
In addition to the cycle of renewal, mentors need multiple opportunities to participate in professional development and professional learning communities to increase their skills as mentors. Program leaders must consider how often this will occur and what support is needed.
Some examples of mentor support and professional development arrangements that have been used in Illinois include the following:
- Book groups
- Online groups (Ning, Skype, FaceTime, etc.)
- Monthly mentor meetings
Determining the role and responsibilities of mentors will enable program leaders to determine the types of supports that mentors will need in an ongoing basis.
Assessment and Evaluation of Mentors
Mentors are often hungry for feedback about their work. An ideal program encourages a mentor learning community focused on knowledge and skills needed to move beginning teachers toward mastering the craft. Detailed information on mentor assessment and evaluation is found in Standard 6.3.