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Friday / May 29

2 Ways to Lead Virtual Mentoring Conversations

Support your novice teachers in times of uncertainty 

Audio version read by the author 

There is no lesson plan or script for moving us forward in these uncertain timesAs we learn how to connect with our students and families in new ways, we also need to pay attention to our most vulnerable colleagues.  

As a mentor you are needed now more than ever. If you are not a formal mentor, you can still be of service to any beginning teacher in your school. This is the time to step up and offer your expertise, your positive comments, and your hope for a better future. 

Some technology platforms can be intimidating because we are not familiar with them. Don’t let your learning curve stand in the way of communicating with your mentees. Choose a tool you are most comfortable with at this time. The point is to connect with a novice teacher and provide support. A simple phone call is easy and it allows the novice to hear your voice.  

1. One  One Mentoring Conversations 

REACH OUT  

Assess the novice’s basic needs right now 

Health issues? Emotional support? Understanding of content to be delivered to the students? Ways to communicate with families? or some other area that the teacher needs at this time.  

Respond with your best advice for providing some support right now. 

SCHEDULE a Virtual Conversation 

This will give the novice something to look forward to in the future.  

Choose a meeting option together; phone call, Face-Time, or another option. Don’t forget to set a time limit for the conversation!  

Use these questions as a guide to focus your conversation. Feel free to share the questions ahead of time so the novice can be thinking about them. 

  • Q:1 What’s working for you right now? LISTEN ~ Give the teacher time to respond and ask the question more than once if you need to do that. The goal is to help the teacher see something that is going well right now.  
  • Q:2 What are some challenges you are facing? LISTEN ~ Don’t try to solve the problems or tell the teacher what to do at this time. Just make a list of them for now. 
  • Q:3 Based on the challenges you just shared, which one would you like to focus on today? How do you think you might resolve this issue? LISTEN ~ perhaps the teacher resolves it! If further discussion is needed continue to brainstorm ideas.  

FOLLOW UP  

Decide when you will talk again and how you would like to stay in touch with each other.  

2. Group Mentoring Just for Novice Teachers 

Reach out to your Lead Mentors and Administrators to see how a “Just for Novice Teachers” event could be organized. Novice teacherlike to be connected. It makes them feel better to know that others have the same feelings and that they can support each other as a cohort. Take the lead and bring your mentor colleagues on board as speakers who can share ideas for teaching differently. Use this moment in time to network your novices and mentors in a virtual community of learners. 

We are all in this together. This is an opportunity for us to think creatively while we support and retain our next generation of teachers. 

Reach out from your heart. Your novice teachers will be so glad you did.

More ideas for virtual mentoring conversations can be modified from the newly published On Your Feet Guide to Mentoring Conversations available from Corwin Press. 

Written by

Carol Pelletier Radford is the Founder and CEO of MentoringinAction.com. This team is a group of dedicated teacher leaders who offer expertise and resources in the spirit of paying in forward to support the success of students. The mission of Mentoring in Action is to empower mentors and novice teachers in realizing their full potential as effective teachers and emerging leaders. She received her EdD from Harvard University where she focused her studies on teacher leadership and professional development. Carol began her career as a public school teacher where she learned the value of student engagement, teacher collaboration, and using student voices to improve teaching practices. She served in higher education as a teacher, administrator, licensing officer, and alternative certification program director. Carol is the author of three books that support novice teacher and mentor leadership development. Two books with Corwin Press: Mentoring in Action: Guiding, Sharing, and Reflecting With Novice Teachers and The First Years Matter: Becoming an Effective Teacher, offer school districts a month-by- month curriculum. Her third edition of Strategies for Successful Student Teaching guides the student teacher through the practicum, the job search and into the first year of teaching. Dr. Radford is actively engaged in designing online mentoring graduate courses that use videos, reflective journals, and mindfulness practices. She is a passionate advocate of teacher leadership and the development of mentor leaders who can transform their district induction programs to bring joy back to the classroom.

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