GREAT EXPECTATIONS – WHAT DO MENTEES WANT FROM THEIR MENTORS AND THEIR SCHOOL?

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 keisha@criticalpublishing.com – as always, we would love to hear from you!

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Invisible Educators or Connecting Professionals?

Today we have a new blog post from one of our lovely authors, Jim Crawley of Bath Spa University! Here he discusses teacher education in PCE.

Here are a few interesting things about Post Compulsory Education (PCE) you may not know.

There are 773,000 16– 18- year- olds who study in colleges, compared with 442,000 in schools. A further 71,000 16- to 18- year- olds undertake apprenticeships through colleges and two million adults study or train in English colleges (AoC, 2015 ).

Even with the impact of austerity measures and budget cuts, over 30,000 PCE teachers still gained teaching qualifications in 2012/ 13 (ETF, 2015 ).

In the three decades up to the 2015 election there had been 61 Secretaries of State responsible for skills policy in Britain. Between them they produced 13 major Acts of Parliament and skills policy had flipped between government departments or been shared between departments on ten different occasions (City and Guilds, 2014, p 1).

All of these feature in a new book, the first of its kind, about Teacher Education in PCE.

The third of these ‘interesting things’ really emphasises the volatility and change (an almost incredible amount in the case of this example) which the PCE sector experiences. You would be forgiven for wondering how the first two were ever achieved. The ‘Cinderella sector’ is rightly proud of its achievements, but in a sector which is often almost invisible to governments and many of the public at large, finds it difficult to get its voice heard. Within this professional invisibility, one group of professionals is even more invisible than many of the others, and that is Post Compulsory Teacher Educators (TEds), despite the volume of teachers trained in the sector.

The UK Post Compulsory Education (PCE) sector and its community of TEds has experienced particularly difficult times over the recent period of austerity, even though the mainly workplace-based partnership model of PCE teacher education resonates well with key thinking and current developments in the broader field of teacher education.

The new book, ‘Post Compulsory Teacher Educators – Connecting professionals’ is about PCE teacher education and written by PCE TEds, and it aims to demonstrate that this particular group have much to be proud of, and that their work is one of the key connecting aspects of the development and improvement of teachers in this much under-rated sector.

The book’s authors, Jim Crawley (the editor), Carol Azumah Dennis, Vicky Duckworth, Rebecca Eliahoo, Lynn Machin, Kevin Orr, Denise Robinson and Nena Skrbic are all well-known and well-respected practitioners in PCE. They have produced eight lively, accessible and engaging chapters using their research, ideas and stories from their own work at the front line of training teachers for PCE.  The result is a book which is book is authoritative, critical, rooted in experience and thought provoking, making use of current research and newly-developing thinking. The book will appeal to and be enjoyed by academics and teaching professionals at all levels.

The chapters include an introduction to this group of ‘invisible educators’; how the work they do can be described as having an ‘even more’ quality; what the PCE sector is now, how it has arrived there and where it may go next; the history and development of PCE teacher education; enacting teacher education values; showing how PCE Teacher educators are ‘connecting professionals’; learning lessons from teacher education globally and looking at growing connections as the future for PCE teacher education.

This timely book calls together all those with an interest in PCE teacher education and encourages them to work together for a brighter future.

 

Dr Jim Crawley – Bath Spa University – November 2016

References: 

Association of Colleges, College Key Facts 2015/16. Available at: https://www.aoc.co.uk/sites/default/files/AoC%20College%20Key%20Facts%202015-16%20WEB.pdf 

Zaidi, A., Howat, C. et al., Initial Teacher Education (Provision in FE and Skills). Available at: https://www.aoc.co.uk/sites/default/files/AoC%20College%20Key%20Facts%202015-16%20WEB.pdf

City & Guilds – Sense & Instability: Three decades of skills and employment policy. Available at: http://www.cityandguilds.com/~/media/Documents/news-insight/oct-14/CGSkillsReport2014%20pdf.ashx

If this blog post interests you, why not look a little further? Details of Post Compulsory Teacher Educators: Connecting Professionals can be found at www.criticalpublishing.com.

If you have any questions, you can reach me at keisha@criticalpublishing.com – as always, we would love to hear from you!

Keep up to date by subscribing to our newsletters, following us on Twitter, Facebook and on Instagram.

 

The Personal Tutor Self-assessment System

Good Morning people!

Today I have some great news- the authors of our book ‘Becoming an Outstanding Personal Tutor‘ have put together a FREE resource for you to use!

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A bit about the book

Personal tutoring and mentoring is often referred to as the support side of the teachers’ role. This text is therefore vital in ensuring outstanding practice in that field. Given the new Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare Ofsted inspection grade, this is a subject that is especially relevant to teachers in the current climate.

The book is relevant to any pre-service or in-service trainee teacher or existing practitioner with a personal tutoring role, a specialised personal tutor, manager or anyone in a learner-facing role within further education.

About the FREE resource

Ben Walker and Andrew Stork have created these two documents to allow their readers to continually self-assess their own practice and that of their institution. You can access these documents by clicking the links below.

Individual Self-assessment Form

Institutional Self-assessment Form

 

** Ben and Andy‘s book is NOW only £17 on our website– where everything is 15% off till the end of April…

So don’t miss out some great deals!

Keep up with your professional learning

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Where can teacher educators find concise, critical, well-researched material on current and key aspects of professional learning written just for them?
Critical Guides for Teacher Educators
Series editor: Ian Menter

These scholarly, accessible books provide critical insights into key aspects of contemporary teacher education for all of those involved in teacher education and professional practice, whether based in schools, colleges or universities.

Order the latest titles in the series

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Ability-grouping in Primary Schools
Case Studies & Critical Debates
Rachel Marks

ISBN 9781910391242    Feb 2016  80pp    £20

The use of ability-grouping is currently increasing in primary schools. Teachers and teacher educators are placed in the unenviable position of having to marry research evidence suggesting that ability-grouping is ineffectual with current policy advocating this approach.

​This book links theory, policy and practice in a critical examination of ability-grouping practices and their implications in primary schools, with particular reference to primary mathematics. It provides an accessible text for teacher educators to support their students in engaging with the key debates and reflecting upon their practice. Key changes in structural approaches, such as the movement between streaming, setting or mixed-ability teaching arrangements, are explored in the light of political trends, bringing this up to date with a discussion of current policy and practice.

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Teacher Status and Professional Learning -The Place Model
Linda Clarke

ISBN 9781910391464    Feb 2016   80pp   £20

The concepts of status and professionalism are key issues in teaching and teacher education across the United Kingdom and internationally.  While there is increasing recognition that high quality teachers are crucial, this coexists with a persistent culture of blaming and shaming them. Student teachers will live out their careers within this maelstrom so need to be encouraged to consider the place of their profession both locally and globally, and teacher educators can support them to make a realistic yet ambitious analysis.

​This book answers a fundamental need for teachers to position themselves in their professional world. It uses an innovative Place Model to explore the professional learning of teachers, examining place in terms of both hierarchical status and as a cumulative journey of professional learning within ever expanding horizons.

University Open Days: What to ask?

The days are shortening, the mornings are darkening and the end of October is finally here. Welcome back to our blogger Taylor Cornes, a second year University of Worcester student, who has some top tip advice about being ultra prepared for university open days.

For many, open days are the basis for the decisions individuals make regarding University and the place of study that they choose. It is exciting being given tours of the University with the thought of potentially studying there one day, but it is just as important to ask questions to find out whether it is the right place for you.

I would advise having some pre-planned questions before attending any open days to avoid the common mind-blank saga, and to ensure that you don’t leave the University wishing you’d asked something but hadn’t. There is no harm in asking the same questions at different open days, if anything it allows you to compare the responses and start deciding which University you prefer to the rest.

My main tip for open days would be speaking to current students! It is good and well speaking to lecturers and course leaders, but no one knows the course as well as the students who study there, so if you want an honest answer then they will be your most useful tool!

It is perfectly normal to question current students about balancing their studies and social lives, and whether they have a job whilst at University – these are the honest questions that will be of great benefit to you in the long run, and they are to be expected by the current students who, from my experience, are grateful to give you an insight into their life and their student experiences.

Another question I would recommend asking is what are the additional opportunities available to you as a potential trainee teacher at that University. This is where some Universities will outshine the rest, and as the teaching world is so competitive, it is important that you are fully in the know of what opportunities you can take up to enhance yourself and increase your employability.

The key to a successful and fully informative open day is having an open mind; as you walk around the University and meet the members of staff, always ask yourself “can I see myself studying here?” and remember that there is no such thing as a silly question!

We appreciate that picking the right university for you is super important and we want to make sure you are as informed as you can be when making that decision. So check out our books ‘Getting into Primary Teaching’ and ‘Success! Passing the Professional Skills Tests for Teachers’ for more information!

Do Teachers and Personal Tutors Need Supervision too?

Another day, another exclusive entry for you! Ben Walker, the co-writer of ‘Becoming an Outstanding Personal Tutor’ tells us about the importance of support for teachers and personal tutors.

You wouldn’t believe what’s going on with that student…I’ve no idea what to do.”  Heard yourself uttering something like this quite often to your colleagues?  What is the response?  Imagine this.  A colleague immediately stops what they’re doing, turns round to face you, looks you in the eye with a concentrated gaze and says, “I’m here to help, tell me all about it”.  When did that last happen?  Has it ever happened?   Of course, your colleagues aren’t being deliberately unhelpful.  At least one hopes that is the case!  The conflicting pressures on all of us make it difficult for us to drop our current activity to support a colleague.

Providing outstanding support comes with the bi-products of students opening up to you more, relying on you for emotional support, wanting even more support and thus exposing you to challenging, emotionally draining and potentially upsetting issues.  Combined with the whirlwind life of the trainee teacher, the question of how to cope before it all becomes overwhelming needs to be explored.

Long established in psychotherapy and counselling for example, supervision is less so in education.  Most definitions imply that supervision relies on a structure and certain rules.  There can be some differences within this, so maybe it is more useful to think of a framework of guidelines within which supervision sessions should be carried out.

A framework for supervision sessions:

How often?

  • a reasonable regularity needs maintaining for keeping momentum going and possibly revisiting issues and reviewing progress.

Who is invited?

  • a small group of your peers at work (group supervision) or a one to one with a peer or your manager (‘paired’ or ‘individual’ supervision);
  • in the case of the former, the line manager doesn’t attend or only if specifically invited. Reasons for this:
  • to avoid the manager leading and, possibly even without knowing, driving an agenda and seeing himself or herself as there to ‘solve’ issues;
  • exploration of the issue is reduced;
  • participants will feel more free to express feelings they may have about the issue without a potential fear of looking ‘weak’ or ‘not coping’ in front of their manager;
  • supervision is differentiated from other typical work meetings.   

What are the ground rules?

  • use of a confidential space;
  • a specific amount of time is given;
  • one person to talk at a time;
  • clarity over whose issues will be aired that session; it may be that it is only 1 or 2 per session;
  • this lead contributor(s) to start the session outlining the issue along with their concerns / questions;
  • concentration on that issue and the contributor’s concern and questions without digression from this or others bringing in their concerns;
  • focus on open questions from the group enabling the lead contributor to find their own solutions.

The support side of the teacher role can feel like you’re more of a social worker than teacher. Given the demands on you in the face of serious and challenging issues with students who you want to support as best you can, if supervision sessions were built into your working routine, how helpful would it be?

See our website for more information and keep an eye on our blog for more from the authors of ‘Becoming an Outstanding Personal Tutor’.

Choosing the Right University

Our blogger and second year primary student at the University of Worcester Taylor Cornes has some fantastic advice about choosing the right university for you.

University is a monumental milestone for all those who decide that further education is the right path for them, but with over 109 Universities in the UK alone, choosing the right one for you might fill you with trepidation.

Discovering Universities, before any open days, begins online and there are many websites available to assist students with this. Unistats is a fantastic website, and is excellent at comparing universities and informing you on what students thought about the course, but you shouldn’t make any decisions solely on the statistics that you see. You must remember that all students have differing opinions, and what one student feel works well might not necessarily work well for another person.

I started my search for a Primary Teaching course at a University fair at my college. I walked round each stall and asked the Universities local to me (University of Worcester, Birmingham City University, Newman University and University of Gloucestershire) whether they offered a Primary Teaching course and what the outline of the course was. I was adamant that I didn’t want to move away and would rather commute, hence why my choices were in close proximity to my family home.

After receiving bags full of prospectuses and leaflets from the fair, I began processing the information and my attention turned to the entry requirements, the student satisfaction rankings, and employability rates – this is when Unistats became very useful to me. Due to the hugely competitive nature of teacher training, I was more interested in the percentage of graduates who were employed after finishing their degree.

As informative and visually stimulating the University websites are, it is crucial that you book open days and talk to students and members of staff in person so you can get a real feel for the University and the course you are applying for.

Research is the key to choosing the right University for you. My advice would be to look at Universities with an open mind. There might be one that you hadn’t even considered before, but you really like the sound of it after looking online and you never know, you could end up studying there! You are able to apply to 5 Universities, and, with so much choice, you would be foolish not to!

If you’d like some more guidance or advice then have a look our books ‘Getting into Primary Education’ and ‘Success! Passing the Professional Skills Tests for Teacher’, great reads filled with the most essential and up to date information.