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Mentoring In Teaching: How To Develop Your Leadership Skills

Mentoring in teaching enhances leadership. Develop skills through self-evaluation and regular meetings. Nurture growth and celebrate successes.
Mentoring in teaching enhances leadership. Develop skills through self-evaluation and regular meetings. Nurture growth and celebrate successes.

Mentoring in teaching can help develop and maintain school culture and retain newer teachers. If you are an experienced teacher looking to take a more active leadership role in your school or in education, mentoring may be for you. 

Mentoring goes beyond the practical parts of teaching, such as school protocols for different events, ordering supplies, or using the laminator or binding machine. It helps new teachers deal with the emotional component, the difference between theory and actually leading a class, and the stress of teaching. 

It takes more than being an experienced educator to be a great teacher mentor. If you are exploring being an educational leader, you’ll want to consider leadership qualities in teaching, self-evaluation, and best practices for mentoring in teaching. 

Developing leadership skills for teachers

Before you begin mentoring other teachers, it helps to be aware of your own strengths and areas for development. A great place to start is with self-evaluation. The information provided by a teacher self-evaluation will help you both in your own teaching and in your leadership rolls. 

Get your FREE Teacher Self-Evaluation tool: 

Different locales and schools have their own criteria for mentors. Take some time to get familiar with these and assess what, if anything, you need to do to meet those criteria. 

You may want to:

  • Learn about what makes a great teaching mentor.
  • Take a course or workshop on mentoring or leadership qualities in teaching.
  • Get mentored or coached as a mentor. This is a recommended practice for new mentors and also benefits experienced mentors. 

Remember that good mentoring takes time. Get really clear on expectations of you as a mentor teacher from your school. Are there other duties you will pass on to make room for mentoring? Do you need to schedule additional time, and if so, when will you do that? Be really clear about boundaries with teachers you are mentoring. Burning out yourself will not enhance your mentorship skills. 

Practices for mentoring in teaching

What does mentoring actually look like? If you’ve been mentored yourself, you may have ideas about what worked and what didn’t. If you were never mentored, you may know what you wish you had. Bring this along with what you learn about mentoring to plan what you will do. 

  • Meet regularly. Set up regular times to meet with the teacher you are mentoring. These meetings may have a specific structure. For example, you may have ideas you want to share to start a conversation. You may ask the teacher to share recent challenges before the meeting and then talk about options for dealing with them. Initiate or be available for impromptu communication too. Sometimes addressing a challenge as it’s happening or in the immediate aftermath makes for great learning. 
  • Plan observations. This goes both ways. It helps you to observe your mentee in action to help you provide feedback, guidance, or ideas about lessons, style, classroom management, etc. It also helps them to see you, as a more experienced educator, in action. Remember the goal is not to create a mini-you, but to help a newer teacher develop skills that will make them the best teacher based on their own particular strengths and style. 
  • Start where they are. You may have amazing ideas to pass on or feedback that you think will really make a difference, but if the newer teacher is stuck with a lower level need, they may not be able to take that in. Check in on their well being — are they eating, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep? Are they managing schedules and paperwork okay? Ask: What’s the biggest challenge you are facing right now? Or What feels overwhelming? While you are not there to solve personal problems, remember that teaching doesn’t happen in a vacuum. 
  • Celebrate successes. Teaching can be exhausting and draining. New teachers may struggle. Celebrate successes with them, such as a lesson they created that really resonated, navigating a challenging interpersonal situation, or a creative solution to an unexpected challenge. 

Mentoring in teaching is a great way to nurture skills outside the classroom and develop your leadership qualities in teaching. As you continue learning about leadership in education, you can keep your own teaching fresh (and save time on developing new materials) with innovative activities and games along with resources for classroom management and organization. You’ll find it all in the Top Notch Literacy Club. All the best to you in your teaching leadership goals this year!

Mentoring in teaching enhances leadership. Develop skills through self-evaluation and regular meetings. Nurture growth and celebrate successes.


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