Mentor teacher/The mentor teacher in Ontario

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Background[edit]

In September 2010 the Ontario Ministry of Education published a handbook for mentors titled Partnering for Success - Getting the most from Ontario’s New Teacher Induction Program - A Resource Handbook for Mentors. This handbook was created to support the mentor teacher in Ontario’s Teacher Induction Program. The goal of this wikibook, Mentor Teacher, is to build on the work of the handbook by outlining a theoretical foundation that could be viewed as the basis for the more practical based handbook.

In the Ontario system, mentoring is done throughout the first year of a new teacher’s professional practice. The handbook is intended to help those who mentor new teachers in their first year. It presents a number of topics and issues that many mentors and new teachers commonly explore during the first school year. In addition, the book provides practical examples and space to write observations etc. From a pedagogical perspective, the handbook describes mentoring as a practical and mutually beneficial activity. The mentoring process is often personally rewarding for the mentor and can give a renewed sense of connection to the school community.

In keeping with its pragmatic focus, the handbook advises mentors to refer the new teachers they are assisting to professional books and journals to help their professional development. This wikibook, Mentor Teacher, is intended to be part of a pool of resources for the first year teachers and their mentors in Ontario who are looking for a more theoretical understanding of the mentoring process and who are looking to take the advice of the handbook and consider further literature on the topic of mentoring. We present several different theories about mentoring that hopefully can assist those mentors and new teachers using the handbook. For example, the handbook focuses on three main roles in mentoring that are referred to as the three Cs (Consultant, Collaborator, Coach). In this wikibook we explain the relationship between these three Cs and how they relate to different theories about mentoring.

The mentor as a consultant[edit]

According to the handbook, the consultant offers support and provides resources. New teachers must be informed of routines and practices at the school. They must acquire knowledge about the students, parents and the community that is unique to the school they are at. Another consultant role for the mentor is, of course, to model effective teaching practices for the new teacher (page 4). This approach is typically based on the apprenticeship model and requires learning through observation.

The mentor as a collaborator[edit]

In the handbook, the mentor as a collaborator creates challenges and encourages growth. The mentor and the new teacher work together to identify the new teacher's needs and to adjust the mentoring process throughout the year. The new teacher develops an Individual NTIP Strategy and the mentor assists the new teacher in planning lessons (page 4). Mentoring theories relevant for the collaborator mentor role are the “communities of practice” perspective from the apprenticeship model and the knowledge building approach. A key consideration in the handbook is that new teacher/mentor relationships must be reciprocal in order to flourish. Both parties must learn and grow and it is therefore important to talk about the relationship as based on mutually beneficial conversations.

The mentor as a coach[edit]

According to the handbook, the mentor as a coach facilitates a professional vision for the new teachers to grow into. The mentor provides emotional support, encouragement and professional feedback. This can be in areas such as effective classroom management and parent communication (page 4). In this regard, the article about active listening and the action-reflection model may be relevant. Another key consideration in the handbook is that trust and rapport are considered essential to establish a good relationship between mentor and new teacher. Here the article about the first mentor-mentee meeting is relevant (page 4). The text presents several strategies that might be used in order to establish a good mentor/new teacher relationship. According to the handbook a good relationship makes it easier to engage in an open and honest dialogue about what is happening in the classroom. It is also important that the new teacher need not be unduly concerned about performance appraisals (page 3).

Overview of relationship between mentor roles in Ontario and different theories about mentoring[edit]

This wikibook can be considered a research-based theoretical expansion of the handbook for mentors. By becoming familiar with mentoring theories, mentors may acquire a deeper understanding of their role. Different theoretical articles in the wikibook are relevant for different mentoring roles (consultant, collaborator and coach). Another key consideration in the handbook is that to be effective, mentors must demonstrate flexibility of stances and roles based on needs of the new teacher (page 4). This is an argument for an eclectic approach to mentoring. Hopefully, this wikibook supports this approach by presenting a wide variety of mentoring approaches that can be used when mentoring a new teacher. In the table below we present an overview of the relationship between the three roles of mentoring and different mentoring theories (the ‘3 Cs’ of mentoring: consultant, collaborator and coach) (page 4).

Header text The Ontario handbook Relevant articles from the textbook “The mentor teacher”
Consultant Model effective teaching practices (page 4), The concept “The craft of teaching” (page 7). Apprenticeship model (mostly the parts that are connected to a one-to-one relationship) - Dreyfus model of skill acquisition.
Collaborator - Work collaboratively to identify teachers' need and adjust the mentoring process throughout the year (Page 4). To talk about the conversation in mentoring, Written reflection tools in mentoring, (Collegial mentoring).
Collaborator "Thinking aloud" (Page 7) To talk about the conversation in mentoring
Collaborator The individual NTIP Strategy (Page 5). Developing a “mentoring plan”. (Samarbeidsavtale) (Page 9). Written reflection tools in mentoring
Collaborator Design action research (s.8) Action learning
Coach Provide emotional support and encouragement. (Page 4) Active listening
Coach Reflect on goals (Page 8) Action-reflection model
Coach Using open-ended questions (Page 8). Oral reflection tools in mentoring
Coach Establish trust (Page 3 and 4). Asking a new teacher about their prior experiences (September, page 9) The first mentor-mentee meeting

The Ontario handbook is primarily related towards one-to-one mentoring relationships and so is this wikibook. In the future there might be a need for more guides relating to group mentoring. We have also included several articles about the induction program for new teachers in Ontario and Toronto. Hopefully, this wikibook is simply a start and we will in the future publish other practical examples of how teachers can work as mentors in Ontario.

Sources[edit]

  • Partnering for Success. A Resource Handbook for Mentors (2010). Ontario Ministry of Education. New Teacher Induction Program
http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/teacher/ntipmentor.pdf . The Ontario guide is adapted from: Lipton, L. & Wellman, B. (2003). Mentoring Matters: A Practical Guide to Learning-Focused Relationships, 2nd Ed. Sherman CT. MiraVia, LLC  Used with permission. For additional information go to: www.miravia.com