Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

The Multiple Roles of Mentors: In an Urban Teacher Residency Program at Teachers College, Mentors Play Three Interconnected Roles: Teacher, Field-Based Teacher Educator, and Learner

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

The Multiple Roles of Mentors: In an Urban Teacher Residency Program at Teachers College, Mentors Play Three Interconnected Roles: Teacher, Field-Based Teacher Educator, and Learner

Article excerpt

I think it's good to share the successes but also to share the failures and own them so the resident sees that you, too, fail at things, that you have to rethink and assess your practice constantly. It's an ongoing process. It also shows the resident that being a teacher is a learning experience and that you've been there; it models to them what you did when similar things happened to you. That makes you more accessible as a mentor, instead of hoping the resident is always seeing the best in you.

--Kelsey, mentor 2010-11, 2011-12

The best strategy I've used is talking out my thinking and planningprocess. Logically, I think that's the only way for my resident to understand how to think about things like objectives and how to assess student learning effectively. I've used this successfully because my resident has been able to emulate my thinking and process. The challenge is knowing exactly when to take a step back and let her develop her own thinking, while acknowledging that it sometimes is tempting to step away from "thinking out loud" before the resident is truly ready to be on her own.

--Elijah, mentor 2011-12, 2012-13

Kelsey and Elijah have both served as mentor teachers for the Teaching Residents at Teachers College (TR@TC) program. This 18-month graduate-level program prepares teachers for high-needs schools in New York City in two areas: teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) and teaching students with disabilities. As part of this program, student teachers, called teaching residents, spend a full academic year working with a carefully selected mentor teacher.

The mentor teacher acts as more than simply a host teacher who provides a place for residents to practice, stepping back to allow them to demonstrate their ability to teach. Instead, like Kelsey and Elijah, they take on the role of field-based teacher educators and engage with residents in deep thinking around teaching and learning. Coplanning and coteaching, as adapted from the work of St. Cloud University, are integral to the process (Bacharach & Heck, 2012).

The research behind our approach

We began developing TR@TC in December 2009; the first cohort began the summer before the 2010-11 school year. As we created the program, we looked at different approaches to mentoring that could best support this yearlong teaching residency and that positioned mentor teachers as field-based teacher educators. Achinstein and Athanases's (2006) understanding of mentoring provided a foundation for developing our mentoring component. They refer to "mentors in the making" to connote that being a good mentor is not necessarily an inherent skill, that good mentors are "developed through conscious, deliberate, ongoing learning" (p. 3). We don't assume that good teachers will, by default, become good mentors; instead, we draw on Achinstein and Athanases's careful unpacking of ways that mentors can develop the skills and knowledge they need to support residents to become quality novice teachers. Some of these ways include developing "the ability to examine student work carefully" and learning to "gauge novices' knowledge of their students" (p. 25-26). Such skills enable mentor teachers "to prompt [student teachers'] reflection on individual students and to guide teacher growth toward student learning" (p. 27).

FIGURE 1.
TR@TC Mentor Teacher Standards

   RESIDENT LEARNING

STANDARD 1

Mentor establishes and

maintains a productive and

supportive relationship with the

Resident.
STANDARD 2

Mentor provides guidance

and support through effective
communication.
STANDARD 3
Mentor acknowledges the
complexities of mentoring
and guides the Resident's
professional inquiry and
development.

   K-12 STUDENT LEARNING

STANDARD 4

Mentor coplans with Resident to

develop, modify, and implement

innovative curricula.

STANDARD 5
Mentor collaborates with the

Resident to enhance student

learning and improve student
outcomes. … 
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.