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Tool: Matching mentors and beginning teachers

Purpose of this tool: This tool will help you consider such factors as teaching styles and personalities when matching mentors to beginning teachers. 

There are multiple perspectives and recommendations on the topic of making mentoring matches.  Research shows that two factors stand out as most important:

  • Same grade level or subject matter
  • Accessibility

Beyond these two factors, there are other considerations including the teaching styles, personalities and strengths and needs of the mentors and beginning teachers.

How to use this tool:  To help ensure an effective match between mentors and beginning teachers, getting input from those involved in the relationship is important. Ask the following questions to beginning teachers and mentors to get a sense of their teaching styles, personalities, strengths and needs. Also consider an alternative to traditional mentoring dyads in which you assign multiple mentors to beginning teachers. Different mentors can provide assistance in a variety of specialized areas.

Questions for mentors

  • Have you ever been a mentor or been in a mentoring relationship?
  • Looking over the suggested mentor criteria, how would you describe your strengths and weaknesses in these areas?
  • How would you describe your philosophy of teaching and learning?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?
  • How would you describe your communication style?  How do you like to communicate and collaborate with colleagues?
  • How do you deal with conflict and differences of opinion?
  • Are there particular characteristics you are looking for in the person with whom you are matched? 

Questions for beginning teachers

  • What are you looking for in a mentor? What do you anticipate being your areas of greatest need?
  • How would you describe your philosophy of teaching and learning?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?
  • How would you describe your communication style? How do you like to communicate with colleagues?
  • How do you deal with conflict and differences of opinion?
  • Are there particular characteristics you are looking for in the person with whom you are matched?  Looking over the list of mentor criteria, which characteristics seem most important to you in a potential mentor?

References:

Gold, Y. (1996). Beginning teacher support: Attrition, mentoring and induction. In Sikula, J., Buttery, T.J., & Guyton, E. (Eds.), Handbook of research on teacher education, 2nd ed. (pp. 548-616). New York: Macmilan.

Portner, H. (2001). Training mentors is not enough: Everything else schools and districts need to do. Thousand Oaks, CA.: Corwin Press.

SRI International. (2000). Preparing and supporting new teachers: A literature review. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education Planning and Evaluation Service.