Making the most of mentors – advice from the Victorian Institute of Teaching
A recent circular from the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) reported on results from the most recent PRT survey, which showed that many provisionally registered teachers (PRTs), including those working in early childhood settings, found high value in working with an experienced mentor.
As part of sharing the findings, the VIT prepared some advice for early childhood and other teaching professionals on how to connect with and work with a mentor.
Workplaces will usually appoint a mentor for a new teacher, a spokesperson explained, or will have a process to connect new teachers with mentoring opportunities as part of the induction process.
“It is important to have early discussions with your mentor about how you plan on connecting with each other and to clarify your roles within your working relationship,” a VIT representative explained.
“It is crucial for you to play an active role in this relationship. Mentors are a great source of support and guidance, however the work of moving your practice to the Proficient level can only be done by you.”
Underpinning the strength of any mentor/mentee relationship is trust.
“This is something you will both have to actively work to establish so that you can gain the full benefits from the relationship,” VIT added, emphasising that regular communication and a sound understanding of what each other expects from the process are key elements of building that trust.
Mentors will be a valuable source of information and advice about the new teacher’s workplace and learners, modelling good practice as well as connecting new teachers with other experienced teachers to observe and gather more information about developing their skills.
Mentors are also invaluable in terms of offering a platform for professional conversations and observations which can form the basis of learning and reflections of practice for new teachers.
“Your mentor will be an invaluable source of advice and feedback to assist you to become a more adaptive and reflective practitioner. In consultation with your mentor, you will be able to determine when you are ready to demonstrate proficiency through the (full) registration process, culminating in your application to VIT and your workplace panel meeting,” VIT outlined.
For those new teachers who are working as casual relief staff, or who are in small or remote settings, connecting with a mentor can be challenging. In these situations, VIT encouraged teachers to contact them for assistance, advice and support.