3 things that you can do right now

Analyse your own practice. Is the learning environment you have created for you and your mentee supportive and safe?

Ensure your mentee is evaluating their own practice by giving them time to reflect on lessons and asking questions.

Refer to the training programme that is in place and ask the mentee about their recent training day.  What did they cover?  Is there anything they want to implement or try based on what they learned?

Also In this section

Challenge and Support

In this section we focus on:

  • structuring a safe and challenging climate for teacher learning
  • stimulating and supporting teachers in systematically analysing and evaluating their own teaching practices

There is a fine balance to strike between supporting someone to achieve their potential whilst ensuring that you are also challenging them in the difficult moments. Ultimately, this often comes down to the ability to have a professional relationship with your mentee. Your mentee will no doubt have moments of feeling out of control or out of their depth. In these moments, a mentor who takes the time to explain that feeling this way is completely normal and part of the process can go a long way to ensuring your mentee does not crumble under the pressure of a lesson going horribly wrong or feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of leading a subject for the first time. It is just as important to ensure that once your mentee has reflected on what could have been done differently, that you challenge them to face the problem with confidence and not to avoid it. Experienced practitioners are well versed in a lesson not quite going to plan or having to stop, cancel everything and start again halfway through a new topic in maths; it is not always that easy as a trainee or NQT. It is these moments when the best mentors step up and shine. Recognising that you have a responsibility to support your mentee in the trickiest parts of the year, as well as pushing them to achieve all that they are capable of, is the delicate balance that mentors have to strike. The key to being able to do this is both trust and consistency. Creating a consistent environment, that is also safe, will allow your mentee to feel confident enough to take risks and, importantly, analyse their own practice to enable them to become self-reflective and aware of their own progress. Metacognition and the ability to understand how it is that we learn best is a key component to becoming a reflective and engaged practitioner. You can play a large part in developing these skills for your mentee by finding the delicate balance between supporting them during the tough times and maximising those weeks of glorious progress through appropriate challenge.


Supporting your trainees: best practice advice for schools

TES offer some sound advice on how to make the most of the mentees within your school. Some of the article is aimed more towards senior leadership, rather than mentors but is useful as a tool for reminding us just how important mentees are to our profession.

Read the article here.

Deliberate Practice for Teacher Educators: A Handbook 

Page 9 of this handbook from Ambition Institute outlines how you can align goals to practice, ensuring that you are both supporting your mentee, whilst challenging them to achieve the best they possibly can.

Read the handbook here. 

Education Support – Looking after teacher wellbeing

Education Support work alongside education staff to ensure that if, and when, a member of staff is struggling with their own mental health, they have somewhere to seek support.  This helpful website gives tips and hints on how to look after your own and others' mental health within an educational context.

Visit the website here.

For Learning in Teacher Education - FLiTE (www.go.herts.ac.uk/FLiTE)

Teacher Educator Story 10 considers how to support student teachers to focus on professional learning rather than ‘ticking the boxes’. FLiTE resources can be used for individual or collaborative professional development of teacher educators working in initial teacher education partnerships.

Download the resources here.


These short, free online courses, hosted on the FutureLearn Platform are the perfect resource for anyone looking to find some self-directed learning platforms. There are programmes focussing on:

  • NE700 Managing Behaviour for Learning
  • NE711 Introduction into Assessment for Learning
  • NE710 Planning for Learning: Formative Assessment
  • NE714 Feedback for Learning

There are also subject specific courses at both primary and secondary level.

Visit the website here.

STEM Primary Resources

A fantastic online resource that covers a wider range of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) materials that are useful to all primary teachers at any stage of their career. Invaluable pool of resources for both teacher educators and trainees.

Visit the website here.

Teaching, Coaching and Mentoring Adult Learners: Lessons for professionalism and partnership.  Italicise title 
Heather Fehring and Susan Rodrigues (Routledge, 2017)

This accessible book collates the experiences and knowledge of Teacher Educators from across the world.  The book focuses on adult learners specifically and how best to impact on their progress.  Each chapter is concluded with a provocation to stimulate professional reflection.  If you are looking for an accessible starting point, this book is for you.

Professional Dialogues in the Early Years: Rediscovering early years pedagogy and principles Italicise title
Elise Alexander, (Critical Publishing, 2018)

As the title suggests, this is a great read for anyone who is working within the EYFS sector.  The book states it is keen to ‘offer many suggestions about how those who are educating practitioners may encourage the development of qualities required to become great teachers'. There are lots of useful ideas but these are very specifically tailored to an EYFS environment.

Why good leaders make you feel safe

This TED talk from Simon Sinek considers how we can create an environment in which our colleagues and peers can feel safe and comfortable to take risks.  He argues that we are unable to challenge others comfortably if we are consumed with fear.  Sinek’s talk is linked to business but is applicable to a mentoring relationship and culture within schools.

Challenge and Support - Further Development


Challenge and Support