Today we have a new blog post from one of our fantastic authors, Jonathan Gravells, author of Mentoring: Getting it Right in a Week. Here he explores what exactly mentees want from their mentors and their schools.
Agreeing clear expectations, at both and individual and school level, is one of the proven ingredients of successful mentoring. Here are some expectations that would come at the top of our list.
6 things you should expect from your mentor
- Credibility & competence – There are skills and knowledge associated with being a good mentor and you should expect your mentor to have taken the trouble to acquire these. Do they have to have more experience than you as a teacher? Well not necessarily, as plenty of successful peer mentoring partnerships can demonstrate. However, mentoring partnerships often benefit from mentors having different experience, as this enriches the learning.
- Willingness to learn – Competence does not mean your mentor knows it all. We can all get better at what we do and your mentor should role model this. Furthermore, in the best mentoring partnerships the mentor learns from exploring their mentee’s experiences too.
- Attention – Good listening is important of course, but great mentors do so much more than this. They give their full attention to their mentee, in an effort to really understand what motivates, frustrates or frightens them, and to find ways forward that will really suit them, rather than simply conform to some established formula or standard.
- Empathy – Because they have taken the trouble to really understand what makes you tick, great mentors will be able to put themselves in your shoes and realise why you respond to situations and events in a particular way. But they will also remain objective enough to help you question these responses.
- Challenge – So, empathy and supportiveness are key to good mentoring, but we also learn from having our assumptions and preconceptions challenged. The best mentors help us to tackle things we might not otherwise have had the confidence to address.
- Freedom to be your best self – Great mentors do not impose their strategies or recipes on you. They acknowledge that good teachers are not all stamped from the same mould, and the most successful ideas and improvements will be those that suit your personality and strengths.
6 things you should expect from your school
- Clear purpose for the mentoring – Unless your school is clear about what it wants to achieve from mentoring as an institution, then what kind of message is it sending mentors and mentees?
- Proper evaluation and improvement – Demonstrating the impact of mentoring, justifying the continued investment of time and money on this aspect of continuing professional development, and finding ways of making it work even better will reinforce everyone’s commitment to the process.
- Proper training and ongoing support – As the recent National Standards for ITT mentors rightly point out, mentors (and I would argue mentees) need not just adequate initial training in the skills and techniques of mentoring, but processes to ensure continued improvements in practice.
- Time – Unless schools find ways of allocating sufficient time to mentoring as part of staff development, the evidence suggests mentors and mentees will struggle to maintain commitment to the process.
- A positive environment – Another crucial observation from the National Standards is that mentoring can only thrive in the right environment. This means a sensible separation from performance assessment and monitoring , demonstrable support from the top, and respecting the need for mentoring to take place within a safe space.
- Agreed definition and ground rules – This positive environment will benefit significantly from clarity around mentoring roles and responsibilities and the basic ground rules governing these learning conversations.
Jonathan Gravells, Director of Fargo Associates, January 2017
If this blog post interests you, why not look a bit further? Details of Jonathan’s Mentoring: Getting it Right in a Week can be found on the Critical Publishing website. In addition, why not have a look at the other titles in the In a Week series; Lesson Planning: Getting it Right in a Week by Keith and Nancy Appleyard and Behaviour Management: Getting it Right in a Week by Susan Wallace.
If you have any questions, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org – as always, we would love to hear from you!