3 things that you can do right now

Share the load. Ensure that your mentee is able to work alongside other teachers within the school for observations, planning meetings, etc.

Have a strong sense of purpose. If you are in it for the right reasons, you will be keen to build a positive experience for your mentee so that they can go on and be the best teacher that they can be.

Tread the fine line between professionalism and ensuring your mentee feels welcome and supported. Do not be scared to have a challenging conversation as this can be the start of a mutual respect that breeds a highly successful mentoring relationship. Be human! Leave early with your mentee one day and go for a coffee. Go for a walk together and grab a meal deal one lunchtime. Your mentee will be really grateful and you might find some common ground you did not know existed.

In this section

Form Effective Relationships

In this section we focus on:

  • establishing effective relationships with teachers and between teachers and making use of technology where appropriate

It goes without saying that the relationship between yourself and your mentee is a key component when analysing the most effective mentoring relationships. If you are unable to build a professional relationship with your mentee, then it is unlikely that either of you will meet your potential as either a mentor or mentee. The key word is professional and the opposite ends of the scale are to be avoided. A relationship that is far too comfortable can lead to complacency and the inability to hold a challenging conversation through fear of it ruining an existing friendship. Equally damaging is a non-existent relationship that is in place purely because senior leadership told you to expect a trainee on Monday morning. The key is to remember that you are a professional carrying out a professional role. Being a teacher is a privileged position for us all to be in. To have the opportunity to impact on the next generation of teachers is a further privilege and something the very best mentors embrace.

Effective and professional relationships are not just based on personality and common ground. They are based on the best interests of both people involved and an understanding that, even if we do not all have the same views or interests, we are all human. Mentoring is easy when the person you are supporting just so happens to be perfectly aligned with how you see the world. The true test comes when you are supporting someone who challenges your own way of thinking and/or working. If you walk into any school across the country, each class will feel different; each lesson will be taught in a slightly altered way. This is the beauty of teaching and the mentees in our schools are no different. They are with you to learn but they are also there to become the teacher that they want to become. An effective and successful relationship between mentor and mentee recognises this.

If you are working with a trainee, there is also the unavoidable fact that you will be spending the majority of your working week with one person. Sharing that much of your time with a friend or family member would be a challenge; sharing it with someone you have no previous relationship with is an even bigger challenge. Remember to find time to talk about things you care about away from teaching. Spend some time getting to know each other as people as well as teachers. This can have a profound impact on your mentee’s enjoyment of the process and importantly yours.

Helping relationships – principles, theory and practice

Mark Smith explores the nature of ‘the helping relationship’. The examples given are tightly linked to social workers and informal educators but have clear links to our roles as Teacher Educators.

Read the article 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.

Read the article here.

The Art of Helping Others: Being Around, Being There, Being Wise
Heather Smith and Mark K. Smith (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008)

In the opening chapter this book argues that ‘good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher'. This sets the tone for a book that examines not only how we help others but how we can ensure we are in a healthy place that allows us to be the helpful person we aspire to be.

Successful Difficult Conversations in School: Improve your team's performance, behaviour and attitude with kindness and success
Sonia Gill (John Catt Educational, 2018)

This is a helpful guide to support you in having challenging conversations. The book includes practical tips alongside the theory behind why we can find these situations so challenging.

Non-Directive Coaching: Attitudes, Approaches and Applications Italicise title
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.

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. Sinek’s talk is linked to business but is applicable to a mentoring relationship and culture within our schools.

Form Effective Relationships - Further Development

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Form Effective Relationships