When starting any new career, it always helps to have a mentor to offer a guiding hand and expert advice. This couldn’t be more relevant in the teaching industry, as trainees learning through a SCITT are in an actual teaching environment from day one and require support throughout their course.
A mentor will always be an experienced teacher who is committed to support you every step of the way. Whilst the trainee is expected to show initiative and become competent in tasks and techniques naturally, your mentor is there to answer questions, help you to overcome obstacles, provide tips for improvement, and work with you to create a personal development plan that will lead to you becoming an educator of the highest calibre.
The term “mentor” is widely used, but you could also see them as a coach, a trainer, an assessor and, perhaps most importantly, a critical friend who observes, offers feedback and has your best interests at heart. Working with your mentor is a collaborative process and is great for your mental and emotional wellbeing, as they’ve been in your shoes and understand how daunting and challenging the training stage can be. Their mission is the same as yours, as they want you to successfully complete your SCITT training and enter a fulfilling career that will positively change the lives of countless children for years to come.
Though a mentor will answer questions, they’re not there to provide the ultimate answers. This is because every trainee teacher is unique, bringing with them particular types of skills, strengths, life experience, creative thinking and approaches to problem solving, all of which add to the school’s evolution. It’s tempting to see your mentor as a guru, but to get the most from this professional relationship you should consider them a knowledgeable guide who is still open to learning new things. The key is to be open-minded and hungry for self-development, whilst confident enough to add your own thoughts, ideas and flair to the mix.
If you still have qualms, bear in mind that seasoned teachers don’t become mentors willy-nilly. First of all, they’ve chosen to take on this crucial role and set aside time to helping trainees. What’s more, they need to be good listeners, clear communicators, assertive whilst encouraging, sympathetic yet optimistic, and the type of person who is easy for a trainee to work with. Your mentor is there because they’ve dedicated themselves to becoming a role model for adults as well as children, so take advantage of this golden opportunity to really get stuck in and enhance your understanding of what the role of a teacher involves.
And of course, make sure to share any funny experiences with them and have a giggle now and then. Humour is a fantastic way to strengthen the working relationship and can do wonders for building mutual trust.
How does your mentor help you with your training? Let us know on social media by tagging in #TeachNorthWest.