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Planned learning to teach

You can design mentoring as a partnership to help the beginning teacher to form necessary habits and learn productive practices as quickly and surely as possible. With any luck, we never stop learning to teach, so the partnership should also benefit the mentor teacher.

In many ways, the experience of beginning teachers is common and predictable. There is no use waiting for trouble, because trouble is normal--it will come like the weather. Some sections of Organizing Induction for mentors could be useful here.

Predicting the patterns of growth for new teachers, you can make plans for learning to teach. If school policy provides for teachers to make Individual Development Plans, that might be the place to put the plans.

And as everyone knows, it takes time--measured in years--to get good at teaching. The mentoring partnership should assume that.

In August and September, beginning teachers typically are overwhelmed by the many demands of learning the curriculum, building relationships with students, establishing and teaching workable rules and routines, sorting out the difference between a friend of students and a friendly teacher and forming a teacher's business-like manner in interaction with students. In the school, beginning teachers are learning where to find or ask for everything they need; getting acquainted with other school personnel; figuring out who they need to work with and why; and learning about school policies, norms and traditions. All of this progress can be planned and supported by the beginning and mentor teacher.

And in October and November, all too probably, beginning teachers will be struggling with the consequences of the fact that they have just tried to organize classes for the first time and got only part of the job done. This could be a a good time to revisit rules and routines, maybe even starting over to clean things up. It also could be a good time to work on balanced and skillful use of the teacher's options for motivating students to learn, and on restrained and skillful use of the teacher's options for responding to inattention and misbehavior.

The story goes on from there. If you accept this page's premise, that many of the experiences and problems of beginning teachers are normal and predictable, you can start predicting the experience and planning your learning accordingly.