Mentoring newly qualified teachers
Image courtesy of Matt Dorfman
One of the greatest needs expressed by our newly qualified teachers is that of a mentor. To this end, we attempt to match each NQT with an appropriate mentor who understands their context, phase and subject specialisms.
We also look for mentors who naturally incline to this role informally or formally within their schools, as well as those who have strong recollections of how difficult their first year of teaching was and can empathise with the NQTs' challenges. Most mentors selected thus far are based on recommendations from our NQTs directly.
To make the formal mentor role more worthwhile, we have established a short course at the university which awards participants 25 SACE Continued Professional Development points.
A Professional Learning Community of mentor-teachers
The course is effectively a structure in which we are attempting to form a Professional Learning Community. Rather than university staff telling experienced teachers how to mentor, the group convenes as a gathering of professionals to discuss what mentoring means in contexts where time is limited and demands on resources are high.
The philosophy is that mentoring is too a learning journey which enables experienced teachers to reflect and grow as they help others.
Resources on teacher mentoring from Ohio and California, USA, and Victoria State, Australia, have been used as a platform off which to launch our own experiences as mentors. While some of these resources have proven invaluable to establishing a baseline, there are vast differences in the South African school contexts that need further analysis and discussion, and where resources from developed countries no longer apply.
If you are an experienced teacher and would like to be considered as a mentor in future, please sign up with us to participate in this Professional Learning Community.