Making The Perfect Mentorship Program

Creating a mentoring program is not a goal, but a process of training the best mentors to support your new educators. Finding the best teachers to become mentors, matching them the mentee they will work best with, and training them properly are integral parts to creating the perfect mentorship program at your school.

Effective mentoring does not mean simply asking a veteran teacher to teach a new teacher “how they do it.” Educators bring individuality to instruction. We cannot ask our newest educators to teach exactly like their colleagues. To make sure we’re giving new educators the best mentors, we must match them with teachers who fit their needs.

There needs to be a way to select mentors using expectations and criteria based on more than just experience or past educator evaluation scores. Yes, mentors must be “good teachers” and effective at providing instruction to students. However, mentoring is about delivering personal and instructional support to adults and supporting their needs—not forcing them to do it the way their mentors did. 

Find The Best Mentors 

Too often in the classroom, it can feel like teachers are alone or working in a vacuum. This makes mentors more crucial than ever. Matching educators with the right mentor, who is motivated to support and grow talent, can eliminate that loneliness. 

Develop a powerful slate of potential mentors. Define the expectations of mentors in your school/district and be upfront about the duties of mentors. To identify the teachers who would make the best educators ask important questions. Instead of asking, “Who wants to be a mentor?” flip the narrative and talk about interviewing to create a mentor pool.

Self-Awareness Questions

  • Where do you see your strengths?
  • What do you see as your blind spots?
  • How do you think others perceive you?
  • How do you want to be viewed by leadership?
  • Explain how you will build trust in the early stages of the mentor/mentee relationship.

Availability Questions

  • How would you develop a system of ongoing communication with your mentee?
  • What do you believe are good goal-setting skills?
  • How would you give your mentee feedback?

Atmosphere Questions

  • How will you create a psychologically safe environment for mentoring?
  • How will you develop a collegial/professional relationship?
  • How will you respect your mentees’ time and space while pushing them out of their comfort zone and encouraging them to take instructional risks?
  • A successful relationship can only be built with honesty and trust at the heart of it. How will you ensure this confidentiality with your mentee?

Experience Questions

  • Describe a time when you worked through a challenging situation with a student, teacher, or parent. How did you handle it? How would you support a new teacher in a similar situation?
  • What were the qualities of the best mentor you've ever had?
  • What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned, and how is it valuable?
  • How will you know when your mentee is successful?

Using these questions you can learn more about your colleagues and the qualities that make them great educators that can be utilized as mentors. 

Select A Program Director

Any successful initiative or program has an individual dedicated to its success. Before mentors can set out to support other educators, they must receive training on the skills and resources they need to lead. An integral part of a mentoring program is selecting at least one lead trainer and supervisor for the mentors. This position should go to one who is more than a stipend teacher who does it part-time.

Put the mentor leader through a mentoring or induction program, or allow them to attend a professional development session or training. Ultimately, the mentor director will carry out the training for the program and live the vision, so they need to be part of the team.

Choose a person who exhibits excellent classroom practice and strong content knowledge as well as empathy, and one who others look to for guidance and support. A mentor leader should have experience working with linguistically and ethnically diverse students, and a track record of attending conferences or putting themselves out there to share learning. Look for those who have demonstrated a commitment to continuous learning and improvement as an educator and leader.

Train to Perfection

Once a mentor director is in place, it is time to develop the training day. This day will happen before the school year begins and before the mentors meet with new mentees. It’s a day to set the expectation and give a “team” mentality to the crop of new mentors.

As you launch your program and it evolves into a culture of support, use the mentor training day for new mentors, and dedicate a follow-up day to veteran mentors to reinforce the vision and expectations of the program. Each district will have a different agenda but the overarching flow should be consistent. 

Here's how to get started:

  • Start with a welcome and an introduction. Begin with, “Why are you here?” then move into the overview of the program to get everyone on the same page.
  • Build a collaborative feel by using each mentor’s strengths as a resource. Ask mentors to talk about the qualities and skills they are proud of, and why they took the step to become mentors.
  • Mentoring is about supporting educators to reach goals and improve practice. Teach the new mentors how to have goal-setting meetings and how to evaluate and give feedback on goals.
  • Another valuable part of the mentor/mentee relationship is observing classroom activities and supporting a mentee with feedback and suggestions. Mentors may not have these skills, so providing professional development during the mentor training day will help them strengthen that part of the future relationship. 

  • To create meaningful matches between mentors and mentees, explore the website Quizizz to find quiz options that get people sharing and talking about how they communicate, interact, and problem-solve.
  • Design ongoing mentor professional development. Choose a specific time and date for monthly meetings. 
  • Create monthly topics. Create a focus for each meeting, and you will shape the agenda and allow mentors to come with questions or strategies related to that focus.

  • Have a consistent agenda. Mentors have a full teaching load on top of mentoring. If you give them consistency during meetings, they’ll be better able to focus and be present.

By following these short steps you will have your school's mentorship program running smoothly and efficiently. Creating the ideal mentorship program will take time, but it is well worth it to give mentees the help they need to be successful educators. Follow more steps from Modern Mentor to make the perfect mentorship program for your school.

Main post image by fauxels via Pexels

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