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Ideas for mentoring

To engage communities as part of their regular teaching practices, beginning teachers need to develop an awareness of:

  • Why engagement with communities is important
  • What options exist at the school and classroom level
  • Specific strategies that they can use to get started

How can you help? The following segments provide a “road map” for materials and approaches included in the Engages communities section:

For more, see the module on Home, school, and community partnerships in Continuing to Learn.


Listen and respond to beginning teacher’s questions and concerns

Sometimes teachers feel like things are not going right, but they’re not certain what “the problem” is.

  • Use the Critical Incident Technique to think about what, exactly, the beginning teacher’s concern is about and decide whether or how it relates to the issue of engaging communities.
  • After working with the critical incident, you might explore the tools in the “Strategies” sections and help the beginning teacher select one or two that could be helpful. A scenario, followed by a “Talk about” section to help you begin a conversation, introduces each of tools listed in the “Strategies” section.
    • Knowing families
    • Communication
    • Volunteers
    • Learning at home
    • Providing support for parenting
  • Help the beginning teacher realize that s/he is not alone!  The “Stories and questions” section leads you to lots of examples that the beginning teacher might resonate with. It suggests several tools that could help with the situation.
  • Background information or further resources may be needed to address a particular concern. The Resource list could be a helpful place to start.
  • Looking directly at a List of tools can spark conversations about where the beginning teacher can begin or suggest ideas that would address a particular concern.

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Make suggestions about places to start that could make a difference

You will learn a lot about the beginning teacher’s practice by having regular conversations.  Through these conversations you may begin to get ideas about one or more areas regarding engaging communities that would be especially helpful for the beginning teacher to address.  What are some constructive ways to bring up an issue or suggestion?

  • One way to introduce an area of concern is to decide to work on it in your own practice and invite the beginning teacher to think about it with you. You might begin with the Critical Incident Technique (share a story about your own practice) and try to pinpoint which area of Engages communities could help you address your concern.
  • Based on what you learn from your conversation about your critical incident, the two of you might decide that both of you will try using some of the tools in the “Strategies” sections in your classrooms and compare notes about how things are going. A scenario, followed by a “Talk about” section to help you begin a conversation, introduces each of tools listed in the “Strategies” section.
    • Knowing families
    • Communication
    • Volunteers
    • Learning at home
    • Providing support for parenting
  • Perhaps you have read a scenario in the “Stories and questions” that seems especially to match the beginning teacher’s situation. You could suggest that the two of you read it together and select from the list of tools to get started.
  • As an experienced teacher, you have likely tried out many of the ideas in the List of tools section. Look them over and add your own examples to share with the beginning teacher.
  • Sometimes background information or further resources are needed to address a particular concern.  The Resource List could be a helpful place to start.

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