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Mentoring process is a means of providing support, guidance, challenge and extension of learning of one mentee through the guidance of mentor who is more skilled, knowledgeable and experienced, particularly in relation to the context in which the learning activity is taking place. This project report addresses reflection on mentoring in initial stage students and student teacher education and is written partly for mentors and partly for trainee teachers (Radford and Dewitt).
What are the foundations, processes and benefits of a successful mentoring? Mentoring offers numerous professional benefits and it also assists in personal growth (Podsen and Denmark). Taking a reflection on the experiences as a mentor or mentee is essential in understanding the impacts of mentoring and coaching on the individual or group. In this project article, the author is presenting a reflection on the own mentoring experience. Hopefully this personal touch will inspire other individuals i.e. mentors to engage in mentoring and coaching activities and instill a positive, rewarding aspects of mentoring other mentee (Podsen and Denmark). Specifically, the main objective of this paper is to focus on the lessons, instances and applications of the mentoring virtues by mentee and the experiences of the mentor. Also how a mentor’s feedback may facilitate the continuous improvement of teaching and learning outcomes as a result of developing a mentee’s reflective practice.
If roles, relationships and channels for communication are established and open, then the potential for constructive professional learning is considerable. Focusing specifically on this (Radford C)provided a useful summary of four major forms of student learning activity and mentoring assistance, and these are set out below:
1) Helping students to learn from other people’s teaching through:
i. Explaining of planning
ii. Guiding observations of action
iii. Modeling and prompting monitoring skills
2) Enabling students to learn through own teaching activities through:
i. Enabling their planning
ii. Supporting their teaching activities
iii. Assisting monitoring and feedback
3) Progressive collaborative teaching involving:
i. Progressive joint planning
ii. Teaching as a form of learning team
iii. Mutual monitoring
4) Exploring central ideas and broader issues through:
i. Direct research on students and student teachers
ii. Reading and other inputs on teaching and background items.
Examination of learning
Once mentee have gained some insight into the rules, routines of the classroom and, through carefully supported collaborative work, have themselves had some experience of teaching, and then they will be ready for a more systematic and structured approach to commence training. As I indicated earlier, during this second phase of their teaching experience, student and student teachers are mostly concerned with developing own ‘performance' as teachers. Their aim will be to achieve greater control over the teaching and learning processes. A very important element in this will be the development of more confidence with subject knowledge (Radford C). I suggest that this development can be supported best if the mentor explicitly develops a formal role in training and focusing directly on the standards teaching.
Actually teaching cannot be completely characterized as a series of standards because the whole is always more than the sum of the individual parts. Therefore, to obtain one particular element from a complex process like teaching is necessarily artificial. However, to simplify the complexity for training purposes, there are benefits in mentors focusing on specific teaching syllabus in a structured and precise way.
As part of their systematic training, students will continue to need to observe and investigate classroom practices, though now their focus might benefit by being even more tightly geared to issues which have been identified for further development. The Reflective Activities from this website and associated books should provide many ideas for worthwhile activities. In addition, we would suggest that mentors and tutors provide similarly focused observation and feedback on specific teaching competences.
In terms of the content of training, the broad focus is provided by ‘official' standards and competences which may be set by a government or national agency. The degree of specificity of guidance the mentor and tutor need to give the trainee will vary depending on the stage of the student's development and their success in managing the particular competence successfully. The more difficulty a trainee has, the more helpful it is for the mentor and tutor to give specific guidance.
From teaching to learning
Once trainees have gained sufficient confidence in classroom management and control in order to ‘act' like a teacher, then they are able to turn their attention away from their own performance, and look more deeply at the content of their lessons in terms of what their pupils are actually learning. As indicated earlier, (Radford and Dewitt)called this process de‑centering.
Developing the ability of reassessment of one's teaching in terms of students learning rather than performance is an importantly important part of becoming an effective teacher. However, from the experience it shows that trainees often fail to move on in this way unless they are given some direct help. They may be satisfied with having established a particular formula for teaching which keeps the children quiet and occupied throughout the learning session, but then fail to look critically at what learning is taking place (Podsen and Denmark). Students who find difficulty in moving on to consider pupils' learning often embody two basic misconceptions. First, they may hold views that are not supportive of the need for further development to focus on pupil learning itself. For example, they may believe that teaching is simply about the transmission of knowledge and the accumulation of factual information; that school learning is discrete and separate from learning going on elsewhere in pupils' lives; that giving correct answers denotes understanding (Radford and Dewitt). Until these sorts of beliefs have been challenged and trainee teachers have begun to recognize the complexities involved in teaching and learning, they will not be open to developing a more appropriate approach to planning for pupils' learning over time.
Second difficulty is that the student actually has insufficient confidence in class management and control. An appreciation of how pupils learn also demands a willingness to experiment with different strategies of classroom organization (Radford C). In particular, it demands that pupils take an active role in their learning and, when appropriate, to participate in investigation and enquiry (Radford C). For some trainee teachers, especially those who have only a tentative hold on classroom control, this may appear very threatening. How much easier to keep pupils sitting in their places and have their attention focused on you.
Trainees had to come to realize that effective classroom control is attained primarily through working with young pupils through well‑matched activities that:
Ø Address pupils' needs and interests
Ø Take account of how pupils learn
Ø Are supportive of pupils' developing understanding of the subject area.
The development of a fuller understanding of effective teaching is often a slow and difficult process for students. In particular, understanding of how pupils learn, and the appropriate role of a teacher in supporting them, takes years to develop.
If trainees are to move on to develop a more realistic understanding of the processes involved in effective teaching, they need to be encouraged to look critically at the teaching procedures they have established and to evaluate their effectiveness. Engaging in activities will help in this, but students will certainly need the consistent support and advice of their mentor. Careful collaboration between the two is essential at this point and the task for the mentor and the tutor is particularly challenging at this stage of the student's development. (Podsen and Denmark)Characterize the role as providing friendship through which the trainee is challenged to re‑examine their teaching, while at the same time is offered practical support, encouragement and personal affirmation.
Application of learning
As indicated earlier, further stage of mentee development that needs to be focused on and that is their development as reflective practitioners. I would therefore suggest that the focus for student learning in this final stage of development should include (Podsen and Denmark):
Broadening the students and student teachers repertoire of teaching skills
Encouragement of students in taking of more responsibilities for their professional developments
Deepening the understanding of students in complexities involved in teaching and learning
As students begin acquiring greater skills to develop a more appropriate and realistic knowhow on the nature of teaching, so the mentors should begin to modify their roles again. While there will still be times when they need to act as role model they should also develop the role of co‑enquirer (Radford C). In this position as co‑enquirers, mentors and will develop a more open and equal relationship, spending more time working in equal professionals. Such a relationship has advantages of encouraging students to take greater responsibilities for their learning and allows mentor to address some of the complexities that are encountered in teaching.
However, it is of great importance to take role in providing a framework for the mentor to discuss planning and teaching at a more fundamental level (Radford C). No longer should mentors present themselves as authorities, knowing the correct answers. Rather, through discussions of their planning and teaching, mentors should be free on their work and invite questioning from relevant stakeholders. Therefore to take the learning to the next level, the following measures are taken into consideration;
Focusing on the complexities of thinking underlying professional decisions
Exposing the moral, practical and other dilemmas underlying professional decisions
Evaluating the social and educational consequences of particular professional decisions
Discussing the social, institutional and political contexts in which professional decisions have to be made.
It is achieved greatly by participating in such open professional discussions in relations to their own practice that students can be encouraged to confront these complexities of teaching more deeply and broadly. From the initial beginning on the periphery of school life, the students should feel drawn into the culture of the school and should feel able to make a worthwhile contribution to development.
Podsen, J. India and M.Vicki Denmark. Coaching and Mentoring First Year and Student Teachers. 1st $2rd. New York: Larchmont, New York, 200/2007.
Radford C, P. The First Year Matters, Being Mentored In Action. First. NY: UPPER SADDLE RIVER, 2009.
Radford, C, P., and P. Dewitt. The First Years Matter Becomming an Effective Teacher. second. Corwin: Thousand Oaks, 2017.
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