Teacher mentoring holds a significant position in education. Through the establishment of one-on-one instruction and guidance of novice teachers by experienced professionals for vocational education, science, and reading, teacher mentoring is implemented for the smooth induction of new teachers in the education system, but also for continuing staff development. Aiming at the guidance of new teachers on areas of lesson planning, classroom management and classroom organization, teacher mentoring is realized through the development of a personal relationship between new teachers and other professionals to add value to education.
Mentoring signifies guided support and teaching. It is a process in which the mentor serves as a reliable counselor, role model, or teacher who offers opportunities for professional growth success to less experienced individuals. Teacher mentoring involves a) sharing of expertise, b) personal and professional reflection, c) portfolio growth, and d) learning communities.
There are several types of teacher mentoring that can be combined to meet school needs. In particular: a) task-based mentoring focuses on a teacher’s short-term need to improve a skill or acquire knowledge to execute a new role; b) experience-based mentoring joins up a new teacher with a mentor who has experience in a particular role; c) one-to-one mentoring pairs a single mentor with a single mentee; d) just-in-time mentoring joins up experiences teachers with new teachers who have an unforeseen need for assistance; e) formal mentoring involves precise expectations and outcomes of the mentoring process by specifying time schedule, communication format, progress reporting and benchmarks.
Teacher mentoring is typically performed by veteran teachers, who have experienced the problems of the teaching profession and the challenges faced by new teachers. Veteran teachers develop a mutual trust relationship with novice teachers and transfer their professional skills and experience. New teachers acquire both technical and professional skills to survive daily experiences and advance their career development.
New teachers are often encouraged by their mentor teachers to achieve their short or long-term goal. They are also protected from major mistakes by limiting their exposure to responsibility. Many novice teachers undertake the same amount of responsibility as their expert colleagues, often failing to transform their academic knowledge into effective classroom strategies. Through mentoring they learn to manage their amount of work and adapt to adequate amount of information to anticipate the challenges of the profession.
Mentor teachers are positive role models. They represent what a new teacher aspires to be after a successful career. They offer new teachers a wide variety of new opportunities that help them to observe and participate in their work. Through mentoring, they make new teachers proud of their academic knowledge, but mostly of their competence to transfer this knowledge to their students. They instill in them the strength to develop a solid character with varied interests. Mentoring helps new teachers to become great learners and to challenge themselves and surpass their comfort zones. New teachers become students and endure the process until they transform into great mentors themselves, ready to guide and become positive role models for their students.
Many schools have formalized teacher mentoring and have developed induction programs to ensure that mentoring processes occur in the context of a formal relationship between the mentor and the new teacher. However, this mandatory participation in teacher mentoring on behalf of the new teacher often diminishes the role of the mentor. At the same time, the influence exercised by the mentor on the novice teacher is decreased by time and authority limitations. The mentor cannot control the level of responsibility of the new teacher, neither has the freedom to direct the activities that are related to classroom performance. Ultimately, the mentoring relationship is not supported by open assistance and new teachers are not provided by the means to expand their teaching techniques and professional skills.
Teacher mentoring benefits all participants, namely the mentor, the new teacher and the education system, by being an interactive system that encourages the transfer of knowledge and skills through professional practice. Knowledge is an intangible asset and if it is not transferred properly it may be entirely lost. Therefore, teacher mentoring programs should be well-structured to provide the tools to mentor teachers to guide new teachers with the established instructional practices on the learning and teaching process.
In conclusion, teacher mentoring is an intricate task that requires a high degree of professionalism. Mentor teachers should employ all their professional competence by observing and assessing new teachers in order to provide them with opportunities to develop own skills and capabilities. This requires constant interaction and communication between the two parties and constant assistance from the mentor to the novice teacher. Furthermore, this process should occur informally, out of time and authority limitations to ensure full academic and professional development.