3 things that you can do right now

Consider a joint target for both yourself and your mentee.  Is there an area of your practice that you want to improve that links with your mentee’s targets?  Working together on a joint target is both powerful and mutually beneficial.

Ask a senior member of staff to observe you giving feedback to your mentee.  Ask for an evaluation of the process and how you can elevate the support you are already giving.

If you have another mentee and mentor in school, arrange an opportunity for you to work together and share practice.  Observe a lesson together or watch each other giving feedback and learn new strategies.

In this section

Evaluate Practice

In this section we focus on:

  • systematically evaluating practice
  • understanding strengths and weaknesses and actively seeking opportunities to keep learning
  • reflecting on experiences and looking for deeper insights

Mentoring is a collaborative process.  As the saying goes, ‘it takes two to tango’.  As mentors, we tend to focus on the progress of our mentee and reflect on the areas where they need to improve in order to meet expectations.  It is equally important to ensure we reflect on the job we are doing as mentors.  There are multiple benefits to doing this. The first is that we are modelling to our mentees the positive attitudes and professional habits that the best teachers possess.  We are systematically assessing our own performance on a regular basis as teachers and it is important that we do the same as mentors.  If you can model this to your mentee, it will make it far easier to encourage them to do the same with their own practice. Acknowledging that you have strengths and weaknesses is incredibly powerful for a fresh-faced trainee or early career teacher who thinks that they cannot make a mistake or that they need to be the finished article on their first placement.  A mentee will be using you as their example of what a teacher does, how they act or reflect etc.  Ensuring that you demonstrate positive professional habits will allow your mentee to gain these too.

There is a responsibility on mentors to ensure that they are making themselves aware of the latest research and theory within our profession. Demonstrating a keenness to keep learning and improve your own knowledge to support your mentee in demonstrating the same characteristics.  We encourage the children in our classrooms to be brave and ask questions; not to shy away from a challenge. It is vital as mentors that we demonstrate this same attitude not only with our pupils but with the teachers we are supporting.  A mentee is not expecting you to be perfect; in fact, it would be damaging if you tried to be.  No teacher in the world has perfected the role and it is unlikely you would last long if you tried to. Showing that you too are still learning, that there are areas you want to improve and that you might need to rely on research or CPD to support you with this, is a powerful message for your mentee to see.  They want to know that there is room to grow; that the best teachers in our schools are the ones who do not want to stop learning and accept that there will always be something new to discover.

Mentoring and coaching for teachers in the further education and skills sector in England

This brief report from Gatsby summarises key findings of research that sought to provide a comprehensive account of existing mentoring for teachers.  The entire report is very useful and has implications for us as Teacher Educators.  Perhaps the most useful section of the report is on page 4 where a table clearly displays where teachers feel they would benefit from additional professional development.  Although this should not be used as a ‘one size fits all’ approach, using the table to help identify common areas of perceived weakness will help you to ensure you are supporting mentees in the right areas of their practice.

Read the report here.

Mentor Evaluation Form Examples

This audit from the University of Wisconsin acts as an excellent self-reflection tool. Completing a straightforward audit will allow you to identify areas that you feel less confident in as a Teacher Educator.

View the forms 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.

View the resources here.

Teacher Professional Learning and Development

This free online book from the University of Auckland outlines how teachers can invest in their own professional development. 

Read the online book here.

Non-Directive Coaching: Attitudes, Approaches and Applications
Bob Thomson (Critical Publishing, 2013)

Well respected author Bob Thomson writes how important it is for a coach/mentor to be clear about whether they want to be directive or non-directive in their approach.  Each chapter offers you the chance to answer reflective questions that allow you to determine which type of practitioner you are or want to become.

Teachers need real feedback

In this fascinating TED talk, Bill Gates outlines the importance of creating a culture of improved feedback and the impact that this can have on us as practitioners.

Evaluate Practice - Further Development


Evaluate Practice