“The evidence also suggests that in-school mentors are a critical factor in supporting the practical implementation of the ITE curriculum. However, [it also suggests] there are some barriers to making sure that mentoring is always effective.
” In the strongest partnerships, we saw a strength in how course leaders perceived the role of mentors. Across all the partnerships visited, leaders considered mentor training to be imperative for supporting trainees in their placements. However, it was the content of the mentor training and how well-informed mentors were on the curriculum plan for trainees that tended to be the main difference between stronger and weaker provision.”
Ofsted, Building great teachers? Initial teacher education curriculum research: phase 2
The Mentor and the Curriculum
Given the introduction of the new ITE Core Content Framework and the increased emphasis on formative assessment in teacher training (see our previous blog post for more on this), bringing the mentor more explicitly into the curriculum-delivery-process seems logical. Instead of asking the trainees to try and make connections between the theoretical training curriculum and their practical classroom practice by themselves, mentors should be positioned to help bring the curriculum to life through dialogue with the trainee about the progress they are making in practice.
“Mentoring can be conceptualised as part of a practice curriculum in ITE, intersecting with more formal training, learning by direct experience of teaching (and associated tasks), personal reflection, study and assignment writing. Mentoring is one of the key learning opportunities offered to student teachers in their new workplaces, and itself supports the coverage of the relevant teacher training curriculum content.”
Rachel Lofthouse, from CollectivED’s ‘Special Edition: Advancing Mentoring Practices 2018-19’, p13.
The Mentor and Target Setting
This move to promote a more clear link between targets being set and the curriculum being taught is part of a wider trend towards ‘instructional coaching’ models of teacher training/CPD. This approach locates the practical support given to a teacher aiming to improve their classroom practice within a broader understanding (or curriculum?) of what good teaching looks like. We will discuss the benefits and challenges of an instructional coaching approach in more depth in a later blog post.
“Instructional coaches help teachers improve student learning and well-being by improving teaching, so they must be able to clearly describe a set of teaching strategies teachers can use to hit their goals.”
Jim Knight, The Impact Cycle, p65.
- find ways to communicate these changes to their mentors,
- rethink how both existing and new mentors are trained to ensure they are able to act as that bridge between the curriculum and practice
- consider what their mentors will need to easily and confidently incorporate the wider curriculum into the target-setting process
- plan how best to monitor mentor engagement with and delivery of the curriculum.
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