Standard 9.3: Mentor accountability through communication and documentation
Mentor accountability can provide mentors and beginning teachers with specific expectations and provide the program with data. An effective induction/mentoring program is designed to work for the beginning teacher, and ensuring quality mentorship is crucial to a program’s success. The challenge is to obtain information without inhibiting the mentor-beginning teacher relationship.
There are several forms of accountability that mentors can use. A collaborative log or online form can assist in keeping track of the amount of time the mentor and beginning teacher spend in face-to-face dialogue. TimsWeb is an online system available at a low cost for Illinois districts that want to maintain their records in one place. In TimsWeb, beginning teachers must confirm the hours that their mentors are logging. If cost is an issue, Google forms or even a paper copy of a collaborative log can ensure that program requirements are being met.
A checklist can record anything that is required of the mentors/beginning teachers, including the following:
- Meetings between mentors and beginning teachers and the minimum number of required hours
- Observations of beginning teachers by mentors including pre-conference, observation, and post conference
- Observations of mentors or other experienced teachers by the beginning teachers
- Written reflections on practice by both mentors and beginning teachers
- Attendance at relevant professional development sessions
The checklist may also include expectations for mentors and beginning teachers, goals, action plans, tasks completed, and self-assessment tools for both mentors and beginning teachers. It is important to maintain confidentiality; mentor and beginning teacher self-assessments should not be shared except anonymously and in the aggregate.
Individual interviews can also get to the heart of the mentor-beginning teacher relationship, provided they are conducted by an individual who is not an active mentor nor has a confidential relationship with a mentor-beginning teacher pair. If a district coordinator is available, he/she would be the ideal person to conduct these interviews.
Several tools can be used to measure the quality of the mentoring. A survey can provide insight into the mentors’ and beginning teachers’ perceptions of the quality of the mentoring. There can be a disconnect between the mentors’ ideas of the quality of mentoring being delivered and the beginning teachers’ impressions. This survey can be anonymous, which gives program leaders general information about their program, or beginning teachers can specifically name their mentors, which gives individual information. Questions on a survey can be directed toward the general content covered during mentor-beginning teacher meetings and can then provide program leaders needed data about what pairs are spending too little time discussing.
Maintaining confidentiality may be particularly difficult—but particularly important—for small programs with only a few participants, so results should only be shared if the number of participants is large enough to ensure anonymity.