Are You a Marvelous or Mediocre Mentor?

Well, the answer to that question is simple.  It depends on the day.  This year I have the unique situation of mentoring a student teacher from August until October.  Then, I mentor a teacher intern full time January through late April/early May.  There are days where I feel that I am doing a marvelous job of mentoring my student teacher. However, there are days I feel mediocre.  It’s these days that if I feel so guilty.  I’m still trying to teach until she takes over full time, balance all of the extra demands we teachers have to meet, and then balance my family life with the demands of teaching and mentoring.  I’m not content on being mediocre and quite frankly, my student teacher and intern deserve marvelous.

So, after looking at resources I’ve used in the past, ones I’ve come across on the internet, and those shared by my PLN on Twitter, I’m going to share a few of the more Marvelous ones.

The Spiral Notebook-One of our teachers last year began using a spiral notebook with her teacher intern.  In the notebook she would leave her observations and questions.  The intern would then be able to read it and record her own observations and/or questions.  This then became a place in which to start a conversation about the teaching and have  a record of progress and learning.  Had I remembered this earlier, I could have gone from mediocre to marvelous.  However, I plan to start this tomorrow.  It’s never to late to be marvelous.

Another great resource, 10 Tips for Mentoring a Student Teacher, is from Teach 4 the Heart. One of the best ones, and one that seems obvious, is to explain everything you do.  This can actually be quite challenging because it’s all second nature to you.  I often will pull my student teacher or intern aside and while the students don’t need me, explain why I just did what I did.  My student teachers and interns have expressed that this is extremely helpful.

This Teaching Channel post came to me from my Twitter colleague, Steven W. Anderson (@web20classroom).  While it is titled “The A-B-C’s of Giving Feedback to a Colleague” is directed toward a teaching colleague, we need to remember that our student teachers/interns are our colleagues.  The author, Ashley Hurley, does a marvelous job of providing specific examples of giving targeted feedback.  I will be using these on Monday to go from mediocre to Marvelous.

At TeachingShop.com Richard E. Lange and Brian P. Roach wrote a blog post on what the university supervisor, cooperating teacher, and student teacher should be doing in order to create a successful student teaching experience.  My favorite take-away from this post is helping your student teacher/intern manage their time.  Last week I observed my student teacher mange her time during guided math groups.  She had expressed that this was an area that concerned her.  I was able to track her time on each portion of the lesson and offer both praise and suggestions.

Not only time management, but organization can be also be challenging, especially when it’s not their own classroom.  I create a binder for my student teacher.  I provide the schedule, planning sheets, websites and codes, planning resources, standards, and district pacing guides.  In addition, I create a list of expected duties.  I break it into before school, during planning period, and after school responsibilities.  This lets my student teacher/intern know exactly what is expected.  We also work on a timeline of how they will assume teaching the various subjects.   I add to the binder as I find more resources that would be helpful.

My favorite planning resource to use to keep my student teacher and I on the same page is Planbook.com. It’s an online planbook that is simply Marvelous.  My student teacher and I each have access to it.  This allows me to see her plans and comment.  I can even create the planning template that I want her to follow.  This way my expectations are readily available.  What’s even better is that we are able to attach supplemental resources.  She can see what I use and I can see what she is planning to use.  Oh, and did I mention there’s an app for this?

Whether you’re already a Marvelous Mentor or sometimes mediocre, I hope you’ve found a resource here that will help you mentor our future teachers.

Be fearful of mediocrity.–Jonathan Ellery