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Standard 6.1: Mentor training

Program leadership, program partners, and all stakeholders collaborate to provide foundational training for mentors to develop basic knowledge, skills, and attitudes for quality mentoring.

In order to acquire the tools to perform their work effectively, mentors selected to work with beginning teachers must have certain knowledge and skills, as well as the appropriate disposition or attitude about this very important responsibility. Therefore, it is essential that mentors receive an orientation that covers the expectations of the program leadership and stakeholders. This mentor training should begin with an informative session describing foundational principles of mentoring beginning teachers. This information should be presented prior to or immediately after mentors are matched with beginning teachers. Included in this initial training would be topics such as the following:

  • 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
  • Confidentiality
  • 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

Foundational training should last between three and five days, often spread out over many months or the course of the year. Some concepts are necessary before mentors start working with beginning teachers, and other concepts are better introduced while mentors are actually mentoring. However, every context is different. While some training is better than no training at all, when programs shortchange mentor training, it can significantly reduce the effectiveness and impact of the induction/mentoring program.

Additional mentor training topics can include the following:

  • Factors leading to low beginning teacher and mentor commitment to the mentor/beginning teacher relationship
  • Generational issues and differences
  • Strategies for observation and collection of data
  • Mentor benefits and challenges
  • Student work analysis
  • Time to reflect and troubleshoot
  • Illinois Professional Teaching Standards

Some programs train their own mentors using in-house materials. Others—especially ones which are just starting a new induction/mentoring program—bring in trainers from other organizations, including the following:

Additionally, ICE21 conducts “Train the Trainer” sessions to provide programs with the knowledge and resources necessary to train their own mentors.

In order to assess the effectiveness of the foundational mentor training and to plan for continued program development, evaluations of the training sessions should be administered and the data analyzed (see Standard 9). Program leaders, along with mentors, must find ways to determine continued needs that can guide the plan for ongoing mentor training. Special attention should be given to address beginning teacher needs related to the school or district. Training must be seen as having direct relevance to beginning teacher/mentor work.

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