A real professional in any field strives for continuous development and improvement of skills necessary for career advancement. Mentoring can provide a real chance for further improvement and progress in any field.
A mentor is a person who gives a younger or less experienced person help and advice over a period of time, especially at work or school. Mentoring, in general, takes a larger view of the protégé’s needs. In addition to helping the protégé master the essential skills necessary in the classrooms, a mentor might help them acclimate to the school’s culture, discover stress management strategies, and develop their professional identity. Mentoring has its beneficial effect not only on the mentee but also on the mentor itself.
Here are the main duties and responsibilities that the mentor has:
- provide the mentee with resources on personal development and growth, such as recommending books, workshops, or other learning tools;
- encourage mentees to join networking organizations or introduce them to new contacts;
- observe the mentee’s classes and provide constructive feedback for further development;
- establish a good personal rapport with the mentee for him/her to feel confident and trust the mentor.
In order to become an effective mentor, one should possess a range of professional skills and knowledge as well as well-developed interpersonal skills.
A mentor should:
- Be well aware of the teaching and learning styles, learning theories, and how they can be communicated to new teachers.
- Show empathy and try to be non-judgemental towards the mentee. Your main goal as a mentor should be revealing the mentee’s strong and weak points and providing him/her with a chance to develop. It would be nice if you remembered how you started your career and what kind of gaps you had in your professional skills.
- Adapt to different personalities. You should adjust your skills and methods to the mentee’s skills and needs and not the opposite. I had the chance to work as a mentor for newcomer teachers in our company and it was my pleasure to adjust my methods to their individual skills and needs. This is always rewarding on the part of the mentee. When they feel personal support they get more motivated to adjust to your frame of mentoring and show better results.
- Learn on a continuous basis. An honest mentor never shows what he doesn’t know yet but strives for professional improvement through various programs. By this, they model continual self-development which is one of the crucial skills mentees must develop to advance in their career.
- Show confidence in their mentee’s potential. Effective mentors are sure that their mentees have all the necessary skills and abilities to overcome obstacles and realize their greatest potential. By showing confidence in their mentees, they help them develop confidence in themselves.
- Observe and provide constructive feedback. When I was a mentor I used to follow the three-stage observation procedure. Before the observation I used to talk with the mentee on the main aspects I was going to focus on during the observation. Then I used to conduct the observation. As a final stage, I used to talk with the mentee on the main achievements and suggested areas for further improvement. My mentees also had a sheet with probing questions which helped them to self-reflect on their lesson. Here are some examples of self-reflection questions;
How do you think this class went?
What do you think went well?
What would you do better next time?
What are you going to do with what you learned today?
Being a mentor is one of the most challenging and rewarding things for each teacher. It gives you a chance to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, assist a new teacher to well adapt to the new environment, and provide them with the necessary professional skills and knowledge. In the long run, both mentors and mentees benefit from mentoring programs.