Mentoring as a Core Point in Teacher Training
01st August 2018
By Juana Sagaray & María T. Fernández: Associate ELT-Consultants
During July this year, Venezuelan teachers received our ELT-Consultants founders Wendy Arnold and Coralyn Bradshaw in an event to train more than 500 teachers around the country on how to be a good mentor.
This activity, organised by the British Council in Venezuela, was addressed to tutors, facilitators and former participants of the PNFA Inglés Primaria (Post graduate level training for primary school teachers [generalists] to introduce English in Primary School). The MoE and the British Council are carrying out a pilot project to train primary school generalist teachers to introduce English in the public sector schools in 4th, 5th and 6th grade. These teachers have been learning English along with methodology to teach the language to children. In 2016-2017, the first PNFA cohort trained around 450 teachers nation-wide. Some of these teachers were selected to be facilitators in the second cohort (2018-2019). These new facilitators, the former ones and the tutors will become mentors for the new cohort.
The activity consisted of a 2-day-workshop in which they developed some concepts as origins of mentoring, roles and responsibilities of mentors and mentees, the importance of developing empathy, developing active listening skills, body language, paraphrasing, asking questions, peer observation and techniques to help mentees “become the best teachers they can possibly be”.
Besides the important ideas developed, teachers had the chance to observe and learn classroom management strategies that were practiced by the trainers along the event.
During the event, participants had the chance to learn steps to follow in a meeting after classroom observation. Here a brief summary:
First, thank the teacher for opening the doors for the observation
Ask the observed teacher what he/she thinks went well during the class.
Ask the teacher what didn’t go according to plan.
Ask him/her questions so they can realize or reflect about the things they need to improve.
Another point that was highlighted was the importance of creating a positive relationship between mentor and mentee. They should show respect and empathy, the idea is not to judge but to help.
They also focused on the difference between monitoring and mentoring. The trainers clarified that the purpose of both activities is different. When monitoring, the idea is to evaluate a process while for mentoring, the idea is to help the teachers improve and reflect on their teaching practice.
When asked if they had had classroom observation experience, some of the participants in the activity said that their classes had been observed by supervisors but they didn’t feel comfortable with it. This training helped the teachers to have a different view of classroom observation and triggered their interest for trying it with the idea of helping people improve. They learned that when mentoring, the mentee should feel comfortable, relaxed and safe. He/she should know the observer is not there to judge or punish but to help them improve and become better teachers.
The training helped tutors and facilitators to raise awareness of the attributes a good mentor and mentee need to develop and some techniques to become a good mentor. This training will have a great impact in the English language teaching in Venezuela.