On the other hand, it could be of tremendous use to schools to set out some time each week for activities that are geared at a particular grade level or subject matter. According to the ASCD consultant Elisa B. MacDonald, educators who collaborate in teams “develop diverse perspectives,” “ground disagreement in text-based ideas (not personal attacks),” “promote intentional data use,” and “focus team meetings on what collaboration is ultimately about—improving student learning.”
There is no reason to make things more complicated than they need to be; in fact, it may be beneficial for educators to keep the content simple and focused on only a few different issues in spite of the limited amount of time available. MacDonald, a former educator and literacy coach, believes that it is sufficient to begin with small, careful efforts in order to gradually establish a culture of trust. “It is enough to start with little, careful efforts,” he argues. Your team will, after spending some time together, start to regard reading aloud, observing one another teach, and discussing student work as effective learning habits, as opposed to merely meeting routines.
These five characteristics are common among high-achieving classroom teams.
MacDonald proposes the following three methods for getting the most out of collaborative classroom settings:
To get started, try reading out loud and paying close attention.
Even though there are benefits to reading on your own, there are even more opportunities for learning and development that can be found in group discussions of media such as movies and podcasts. This is because members of the group are exposed to new ideas and have their own perspectives called into question.
MacDonald suggests beginning with “short, engaging readings” in the event that your institution does not make time available for professional development or collaborative team reading. Some examples of “short, engaging readings” include a relatable cartoon, a contentious statement, or an inspirational excerpt from a podcast. You should begin reading longer books and engaging in book studies as the school year develops, provided that your professors’ schedules permit them to do so. She claims that very soon, everyone in your office will expect you to conduct the majority of your meetings via text message. She says this will become the norm very soon.
A well-crafted prompt may assist establish a deliberate dialogue and generate high-quality, relevant responses rather than adopting text-based discussion protocols such as the four A’s or the last word, which may appear “time-consuming or restricted.” After reading the article “Growing up Black in All the Wrong Places,” the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the school, Osamagbe Osagie, posed the following question to her team: “Given the provocative title of this article, what will it take for us to create a world that is comfortable and safe for individuals who are Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and multiracial to grow up in and thrive in?” scribe belonging to the House of MacDonald.
2. During the course of the lesson, keep an eye on your fellow students.
The benefits of peer observations, in which teachers from high-performing schools visit the classrooms of their colleagues, are compared by MacDonald to seeing the same movie with friends and then having a conversation about it afterward.
If the leaders of the team have established specific objectives for the time spent in the classroom, then the members of the team are less likely to feel overwhelmed by the amount of ideas with which they come into contact.
MacDonald recommends an unstructured initial visit; however, subsequent visits should include guidance on what to look out for and how to apply the team’s newly acquired knowledge. Set a specific goal for each experiment.
It is critical to establish objectives that are crystal clear:
According to MacDonald, it is OK to show out only a small portion of the whole lesson plan for the purpose of receiving feedback even if your group is working on the plan as a whole.
Put in motion a strategy for the collecting of data:
MacDonald suggests that the information you gather for the team debrief should be based on the objectives you set. We would like to record the class discussion if you give us permission to do so, and we would also like to take images of your finished assignment.
Mix it all up:
Consider witnessing not only live classes but also recorded classes and so-called “dry demos,” in which a teacher presents a lesson to a group of colleagues in the absence of any pupils. Teachers can feel more at ease leading activities and gain valuable experience testing out ideas prior to implementing them with their students if the activity can be paused and restarted at any point in time.
3. Judge the Quality of the Work Done by the Students
Even if you don’t get to visit one another’s classes very often, you may still reap the benefits of working together on a regular basis to evaluate the work of your students. Each participant, in turn, is given the opportunity to provide student examples that:
In other words, the work that is provided as an example need to reflect a genuine difficulty or problem that the instructor who is doing the presenting is actually struggling with (s).
In order to derive the greatest possible advantage from the analysis, the team should be presented with samples that are pertinent to the study and investigation goals that have been established.
MacDonald recommends that educators use current examples, such as those discovered in formative assessments, so that they are able to “reteach, intervene, or enrich” when the students require it.
During team meetings, there is a genuine risk of giving in to the urge to “go big or go home,” but this risk may be mitigated by the fact that teachers already have busy schedules. Since starting out with a limited scope is recommended by MacDonald, you need to give careful consideration to which of the available strategies to put into action. Working in cohesive teams may be beneficial to educators since it increases opportunities for peer learning and assists them in developing meaningful relationships with their other coworkers.
How to Recognize an Excellent Mentor Teacher, as Well as the Characteristics That They All Share
Some mentors may at first appear to be helpful; nevertheless, the most effective mentors go above and beyond by doing things such as providing meals and transportation for their mentees. According to Heather Wolpert-Gawron, who teaches English to middle school pupils as a second language, teachers like her “carry on their experience via casual discourse and everyday modeling.” Listeners who are professionals and who are committed to assisting you in locating your own unique educational voice, but who are also ready and able to “push back and disagree with you” when the situation calls for it.
It is apparent that having new teachers who have supportive mentors increases their likelihood of staying in the profession, which ultimately helps the kids. Students of first-year teachers who receive high-quality and consistent mentoring show significant academic gains, with their reading and math scores rising by two to four months and two to five months, respectively, compared to those of students in a control group, as found in a study that was conducted in 2017 by SRI Education.
The difference between mentoring and induction is that mentoring focuses on assisting new teachers with the day-to-day aspects of their professions, such as learning how to use the laminator or following the correct procedures for field trips. Induction, on the other hand, is more of an overview of the profession. Kimberly Long, who teaches reading and language arts, recently contributed an article to EducationWeek in which she discussed how mentors might assist new teachers in “managing the grind of everyday problems and the rigors of the profession.” “Your desk is spilling paper. There is an icon for voicemail that is blinking. You never let your inbox go empty, and you like to paste smiley face stickers in your hair. That is something that absolutely everyone can empathize with. Throughout the course of my academic career, I have had the good fortune to collaborate with a number of exceptionally qualified teachers. These teachers have saved my sanity, comforted me when I was in tears, and motivated me to accomplish more than I ever believed was possible.
In your perspective, which characteristics make a good mentor teacher the most crucial to look for in a candidate? Recently, we inquired about it. The majority of the lecturers in this institution made important contributions. We sifted over the input that you posted on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in order to determine what characteristics make for an excellent mentor instructor. In addition to this, we looked into the archives of Edutopia as well as other sites to discover what other educators had to say on the matter. The following are six characteristics that are present in the best mentor teachers.
Great role models are attentive listeners: It’s a widespread misunderstanding that mentoring is primarily about imparting knowledge to younger people. In point of fact, our readers have shared their opinions, and the majority of them agree that listening is the most essential talent for coaches to possess. It was mentioned more frequently than any other quality in the conversation, totaling 67 times.
During their first few years of school, students often find themselves going through an emotional roller coaster of self-doubt. According to reports, English instructor Cait Marie from New Jersey posted on Facebook that the finest mentors were able to “listen with empathy” and redirect “worries and emotions productively.”
Active listening is “especially important” in mentor-mentee communication, according to Debra Meyer, an education professor at Elmhurst University and a former classroom teacher. Active listening is defined as “a structured, nonjudgmental method of listening and responding in which the listener gives undivided attention and withholds judgment.” “The education of their mentees benefits greatly from having mentors who are also skilled listeners. They want mentees to feel encouraged and supported in the processes of debate and decision-making that they go through.
Effective mentoring does not involve correcting new instructors or attempting to shape them into clones of the mentor. Nick Orr, a teacher from New Zealand, asserts that the best mentors allow “enough room” for their mentees to establish their own voices while still demonstrating excellent teaching practices. This was a focus that was shared by a large number of other educators participating in the discussion.
Educator Kim Halvorson believes that a trustworthy mentor should be able to “step back” and allow mentees to “make errors” before gently offering better possibilities for the future. Kevin Leichtman, who teaches English at Monarch High School in Florida, made the observation that the other teachers at the school “support the new teacher to explore different ways and be themselves.” “My teacher was amazing, and she had a fantastic method that was all her own. She didn’t force me to imitate her manner in any way, that’s for sure. She not only encouraged me to use my creativity but also shared the ways that she had found to be successful in her own endeavors (quite effectively). As a direct consequence of that experience, I built up the self-assurance necessary to experiment with new strategies and develop my own unique approach to instructing.
It is not a good idea to pair students with mentors who do not have extensive experience in the classroom. To phrase it another way, there is a certain level of expertise and comprehension that can only be obtained through experience: Erin Ruiz-Prunchak, a schoolteacher, admits, “To my regret, I accepted the position before I had completed all of the necessary preparations.
Teachers who have been in the classroom for a while can assist their students in making the connection between educational theory and classroom practice. A second educator, Kelly Pope, echoes this sentiment in a comment she made on Facebook: “They should be extremely confident in their classroom management and lesson preparation, and they should be able to articulate the reasoning behind the choices they make.” And when things do go wrong, which they inevitably will, the mentors demonstrate resilience and act as role models for it by being “strong enough with classroom management” to assist their mentees in “healing and rehabilitation,” as Ruiz-Prunchak puts it.
They have successfully struck the right note.
Teacher Kate Kluegel suggests that in the face of unprecedented levels of professional stress and burnout, mentors can help early-career teachers develop “clear work-life boundaries” and instill in them the significance of taking care of both kids and themselves. This can be done by helping early-career teachers develop “clear work-life boundaries” and by instilling in them the significance of taking care of both kids and themselves. Educator Jessica Brown suggests that one way in which mentors can demonstrate how to practice self-care is by demonstrating how to “put on their own Band-Aid, you know, just in case.”
According to Meyer, an educator at Elmhurst College, a mentor can assist a mentee in navigating the system when the mentee’s workload becomes too heavy for the mentee to handle. Despite having the same number of classes and the same schedule, Meyer notes that “new instructors are typically required to satisfy the same high criteria for student learning outcomes and professional obligations.” Assuming that this means the mentor assists the mentee when the mentee is experiencing feelings of being overwhelmed, the mentor may suggest additional resources or offer assistance that enables the mentee to finish tasks more quickly.
The best mentoring relationships are formed within formal, structured programs. This is because mentoring is a process that requires time and effort on the part of both the mentor and the mentee. Simply appearing ready to do battle is more than half the fight won.
Jody Lyon, a teacher in Iowa, stated that her supervisor “was really successful at narrowing the time we had to exactly what we were working on.” When they got together, it was typically for “focused meetings without banter,” which means that they didn’t talk much.
According to Amie Weinberg, director of the teacher-mentor program and a former classroom teacher, having such a conversation and setting such standards at the beginning of the school year would help to ensure that focus is maintained throughout the year. You can get buy-in from both teachers by having them sign off on a Google Doc that outlines the guidelines. Just make sure to remember to revise the document as necessary throughout the year to reflect any changes in the requirements or expectations. According to Weinberg, it is extremely important for the two parties to have this meeting because it establishes the foundation for the working relationship that will exist between them for the following calendar year.
In addition to this, you need to plan your logistics:
Weinberg recommends that you and your co-teacher work together to determine “the ideal day and time, in addition to specifics like where, for how long, and cancellation procedures” for your weekly meetings. In the event that the mentee ever needs advice on how to deal with an especially difficult student or a terrible lesson, it is helpful to establish ground rules for unscheduled contact. How exactly is it that the mentee is supposed to get in touch with the mentor? Is it more efficient to give a call, send a text message, go in person, or send an email? According to Weinberg, one of the most straightforward ways to get started collaborating is to simply discuss one’s preferences and work out the specifics.
We were informed by a large number of teachers that mentor teachers encourage mentee teachers to develop a meaningful and consistent reflection practice for their students because of the positive effects that this has on student learning. The following statement was made by Anne Stewart on her Facebook page: “For seasoned instructors, reflecting comes so naturally that we forget how vital it is.” ” What kind of responses did your students give to this? If you are aware of that, could you please explain how you came to have that knowledge?
On Instagram, jennasteedconnkatt says that the most valuable mentors are those who “constantly reflect and ask herself questions that keep her goals in sight and her apprentice feeling seen, understood, and valued.” This is very similar to the way that they would approach the problem in their own work, in many respects.
According to Weinberg, experienced mentors pose questions that help mentees expand and deepen their learning by encouraging reflective thinking as a foundational component of the mentoring process. These questions are posed as part of the mentoring process. The late Weinberg elaborates as follows: “It has been shared with me by mentors who instruct in this manner that they believe mentee reflection has a more direct impact on professional advancement than does questioning. This is due to the fact that thinking about a lesson or instructional strategies might immediately result in change. Even when the mentee does not have any particular questions or concerns, the mentor and mentee get together once a week with the intention of encouraging introspection as a means of personal development.