How To Be An Effective Teacher Mentor

Published: 22nd February 2010
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Copyright (c) 2010 Vince Welsh

Being a teacher mentor is an important responsibility to take on. Just like becoming a great doctor, it takes much practice and development to be the best you can be in this position. To begin, it is important to have a solid academic background in education in order to prepare you to become a teacher mentor. Some programs can assist educators in developing and utilizing effective practices to successfully mentor novice teachers. Some courses also explore the benefits that experienced teachers can gain by collaborating with colleagues in peer coaching programs. A teacher mentor is usually a teacher that has undergone similar challenges that first year teachers know well. To assist first year teachers in their new, challenging careers, teacher education programs at colleges and universities offer mentoring programs for new teachers such as a student teacher mentor program.

A teacher mentor program is not only helpful to the improvement of other educators, but it also aids more experienced teachers in gaining a fresh perspective and remaining current. Because teaching is such a complex and demanding profession, it is important for new teachers to be provided with a support system that allows them to transition from theory to practice. Recent legislation in many states calls for mentoring new teachers in order to help them improve and strengthen their skills and practices and thus, keep them in the profession. Meanwhile, veteran teachers need to stay up to date with new teaching methods, stay energized in the classroom, and experience periodic professional renewal in order to avoid burnout. It is important to always keep new methods and ideas stirring and moving through in this field in order to keep up with new generations and different communities.

Many reports suggest the next decade will see a huge turnover in the teaching profession as older teachers begin to retire and younger ones replace them. Teacher mentor courses support the premise that all educators are lifelong learners and that working in partnership with colleagues enhances classroom practices, improves student learning and builds school communities. Going back to school to immerse yourself in these courses is a valuable way to improve your teacher mentor abilities while giving yourself the professional advantage you need to continue to be successful as an educator. It is important to continue to learn how to meet the needs and demands of a wide range of new students. After completing a teacher mentor program, it is important to stay on top of any new problems that may arise. The ways in which you can truly help new teachers can be enormously useful and extremely influential on a new educator's future and career. For example, classroom management can be a new teacher's worst nightmare and a teacher mentor can suddenly become a new instructor's best friend. Being a teacher mentor is a challenging role however you can help by giving ongoing guidance on areas of lesson planning, classroom management and classroom organization. Keep in mind the struggles you encountered as a new teacher and the obstacles that you found particularly tricky to overcome. It's vital that you receive the proper training before embarking on your role as teacher mentor because you need to need to be familiar with pertinent issues that face a new teacher and what to do if a pre-service teacher-student is experiencing a difficult year particularly with classroom management issues. Mentors need to work closely with the new teacher, using special strategies such as coaching sessions and reflective journal techniques for easing the new teacher into the classroom. They can then discuss these during their one-on-one sessions. In addition, teacher mentors need to be prepared to enter a classroom as a last resort if needed. Teacher mentors need training in the interpersonal dynamics of this challenging job. Helping a new teacher feel confident with his/her authority as a classroom manager while also showing them how to prepare lessons for difficult topics can be demanding. You can receive extensive training from teacher education programs that will provide you with the tools to come out a better mentor and educator.


Vince Welsh is the President of Teacher Education Institute. TEI offers graduate-level professional development courses for teachers on-site and online. For more information about teacher mentor visit

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