Tool: Strengthening conferencing
Purpose of this tool:
This tool can help you and your colleagues develop and strengthen essential
conferencing skills. Conferencing is at the heart of mentoring. Mentors
do most of their work through meeting and talking with beginning teachers
about planning, observing and problem solving. During conferencing the
most effective mentors use talk to help beginning teachers critically
reflect upon their problems of practice, and they listen closely
to determine what kind of talk will foster reflection at that moment.
How to use this tool: This tool provides guidelines for
engaging in conversations about conferencing with your colleagues.
1. Read about the
different conferencing strategies:
2. Select a mentoring
story to discuss:
a mistake and doesn’t die
Sara and her
mentor and the library research project
The boy who
3. Read the story
together and as a group. Talk about how you could
use the different strategies in the situation profiled. Why would you
use these different strategies? What kinds of challenges might you encounter?
4. Select a different
mentoring story as a group.
5. Divide your group into partners.
Partners role-play a mentoring conference that reflects
the story, with one partner acting as the “mentor” and the
other acting as the “beginning teacher.” As you role-play
the conference, the “mentor” should use the different conferencing
6. Discussion. After
the role-plays, the group discusses how the different strategies were
used, when, for what reasons and to what effect. How did they help or
hinder the conversation? How did the “beginning teachers”
feel about the conference? Did it help them reflect more critically
on their concerns? Did it help them solve the problem? Did they feel
forced into a solution? How did the “mentors” feel? Did
they encounter any difficulties using the different strategies? Did
the strategies feel awkward? Why?
7. Making mentoring connections.
The group discusses how they can use the different strategies with beginning
teachers. When would the different strategies be most appropriate? When
might they create problems? What other strategies may be helpful?