Mentor today – setting based teacher educator tomorrow?

David Owen, Head of Teacher Education in the SIoE, discusses the importance of supporting mentoring in a partnership context

“If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it.”
– Yogi Bhajan

This statement gets to the heart of why teaching,  and  mentoring and coaching teachers, can be so rewarding yet also so challenging.     It would seem to be intuitive that teaching and guiding others to do something you love, and which enthuses you, will bring rewards to both teacher and the learner.  But as beginner teachers often find, being a successful teacher can be an elusive goal.   The same could also be said for being a new mentor.    Didn’t I tell them that last week?   But I showed him how to do that yesterday?   Why can’t they share their experiences and learn from them?    Did she not learn anything from watching  Dawn teach – she is such a natural teacher?

Perhaps you  have shared frustrations like these with colleagues at different times – I certainly have!   Mentoring, coaching, guiding and supporting trainee teachers is complex and sometimes counter intuitive.   Taking part in this course will help keep the frustrations to a minimum.    Research suggests that the best forms of professional development support sustained engagement on problems of your choice, involving work with peers and interaction with expertise from outside your work context.  Crucially the engagement is sustained over time, not just one-off sessions.   Working on enhancing your mentoring skills over an initial five week period, with like minded people potentially from schools and colleges, guided by school and university based experienced (and expert) mentors will be an excellent learning experience.   I shall be joining myself  –  my mentoring skills are rusty!

This SHOOC course also looks to the future of setting and university collaboration.   Sheffield Hallam University has committed to become the UK’s ‘leading applied university’ by 2030.   This sounds a long way off and open-ended, but one concrete step we want to make in the Sheffield Institute of Education is to support the development of setting (school, college, nursery) based teacher educators as a key role in the future development of trainee teachers.   We see a future in which expert practitioners work across school and university settings and educational researchers work in settings and across many departments in the university.  Enhancing your mentoring skills enables you to match your current ‘practice expertise’ with the expertise needed to support beginning teacher development.  That’s why you can complete the course and use your learning towards a Masters qualification. We would also welcome you in progressing to the Education Doctorate and in leading school embedded teacher education alongside other committed (but no longer frustrated 🙂 ) mentors and coaches. Enjoy the course!

David OwenDavid Owen
Head of Teacher Education in the SIoE

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