What is Mentoring? Cheri Chan Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong 1

What is Mentoring?
Cheri Chan
Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong
1. What is mentoring: key definitions
2. What mentors do
3. Characteristics of good teacher-mentors: Group
4. Aims of the teaching practicum
5. What are the benefits of mentoring novice teachers?
 The teaching practicum (TP) is a major component of
the Faculty’s teacher education programmes (PGDE,
BEd & BA/BEd)
 Our students view their practicum experiences as an
extremely important and essential induction into the
teaching profession
 They greatly value the professional relationship with
their teacher-mentors at the TP schools 
What is Mentoring?
A generic definition:
 A deliberate pairing of a more
skilled or experienced person
with a lesser skilled or
experienced one, with the
agreed-upon goal of having the
less experienced person grow
and develop specific
(M Murray and M Owen, Beyond the Myths
of Mentoring: How to Facilitate an Effective
Mentoring Program, Jossey-Bass, San
Francisco, 1991, p xiv)
What is Mentoring?
A working definition:
A teacher who is
responsible for looking
after students from
university-based initial
programs during their
placements in the school
(Malderez, 2009)
What is Mentoring?
A ‘personal’ definition:
“A mentor, to me, is an encourager,
someone to share with. They help
you to improve through good
practice themselves and suggesting
new approaches. They should lead
you to reflect on your lessons and
refine your teaching style.”
Moira, an experienced teacher mentor
Mentoring: Helping Hands
 The teacher-mentor is the person who has the
greatest direct influence on the student teacher
 There are different styles of mentoring, but all good
mentors share similar practices in helping novice
teachers grow!
 Mentors develop their mentee’s professional thinking
skills and support mentees in aspects of the
processes of professional decision making or learning
 So, mentors provide typically two kinds of help:
What Mentors Do:
1. Provide General Help
 Introduce the ST to the principal, colleagues and students at the school
 acquaint the student teacher with school’s curriculum goals (the school &
panel) & regulations
 Organise a teaching timetable for the ST
 Arrange observations for the STs in the first week of TP
 Invite the ST to shadow you or a colleague
 Invite the ST to school meetings and PD workshops
 Plan collaboratively with the ST
 Discuss lesson plans/teaching strategies/classroom management techniques
 Observe lessons and give constructive feedback e.g. on teaching approach/
strategies/classroom management techniques
 Help ST set learning targets for the following lesson
2. Provide Support for Professional
 Help the ST develop skills for professional learning,
thinking, and action
 Noticing and learning from teaching experience
 Informed planning and preparation
 Reflect on practice to help the mentee review and
assess his/her own practice independently
What mentors are and are not
According to Malderez and Bodoczky (1999) mentors are:
1. Models of a way of teaching of being a teacher in context
2. Acculturators to help the mentee integrate into a community
3. Supporters of the mentee as a person during the emotionally
charged transformation process of becoming a teacher
4. Champions of their mentee to ensure they have optimal
conditions for learning during TP
5. Educators in terms of scaffolding the learning process for the
Mentors are not trainers or assessors and they play different roles
to the university supervisor
Characteristics of a good teachermentor:
 Inspiring
 Knowledgeable
 Friendly
 Empowers the student-teacher to teach the class on their own
 Passionate about teaching
 Resourceful, lots of bright ideas!
 Willing to offer support and help
 Approachable
 Willing to observe lessons
 Give constructive feedback to help me become a better teacher
BA/BEd Year 4 Students 2011
Research suggests that STs believe
mentors can be most helpful if they:
 Give frank, constructive feedback;
 Allow the ST autonomy and independence in the classroom;
 Suggest techniques appropriate to particular groups of learners
 Suggest resources to be used in lessons
 Encourage and give student confidence
 Familiarise the ST with school routines
 Offer suggestions on handling discipline problems
 Help in planning lessons or give feedback on plans
 Provide some background information on the learners
 Are available when needed
 Observe lessons and provide feedback
Aims of the Teaching Practice
 Planning
 Teacher Knowledge of teaching the subject
 Pedagogy
 In-class interactions and responsiveness
 Managing learning and learners
 Professional reflections
Aims of the Teaching Practice
 ST can consistently facilitate learning independently
 ST can implement highly effective teaching strategies with
reference to sound methodological principles and
professional practice.
 The lessons are learner centred, innovative and address
learner diversity. Overall there is very high evidence of
student learning.
 The student teacher is highly self aware and demonstrates
a strong ability to reflect on practice.
 S/he is likely to be able to manage his/her ongoing
professional development independently.
Mentoring is a two-way professional
learning process
Outcomes for
the novice
Outcomes for
the mentor?
What will I get out of mentoring STs?
 “Having a great mentor gave me the desire to be a mentor myself. I
have enjoyed the experience. Sometimes teaching can be lonely
and, especially at the beginning, you will feel a need to talk about
what happened in the classroom. Your mentor should be that
sounding board for you. Encouraging future teachers is very
meaningful. Its not a critical role but one of affirmation and
encouragement. Through thinking about, discussing and observing
lessons we can all grow as teachers and improve our style. I remain
very good friends with my mentor, and 3 of the student teachers I
have mentored. I still write references for some of them. I hope I
can continue as a sounding board for them and on-going informal
professional exchange.”
 Moira, teacher-Mentor
Key References and
 Bailey, Curtis and Nunan (2001) Pursuing Professional
Development. Boston: Heinle.
 Malderez (2009) Mentoring in Burns and Richards
(2009) (Eds) The Cambridge Guide to Second
Language Teacher Education. Cambridge: CUP.
 Malderez & Bodoczky (1999) Mentor courses: a
resource book for trainer-trainers. Cambridge: CUP.
 Special thanks to Mrs Moira Green, St Francis Xavier
School (TW)
Thank you for mentoring our
students 