What do mentors need to know and be able to do?

‘… good listening skills … be approachable … patience … empathy …’

On Thursday 24th November 50 or so senior mentor coordinators (SMCs) attended the regular SMC Community meeting at the Sheffield Institute of Education. Led by SHOOC tutor team colleague Jenny Dein the discussions were around how we support our mentors and trainees effectively and part of the day was given over to looking at the SHOOC and how it might help SMCs in their work.


People felt that participants in the SHOOC needed awareness of practice and of the strategies for helping trainees and newly qualified teachers, and especially in terms of basic expectations and procedures and how we can help mentees match practice to standards. The experience that trainees have before placement begins was considered to be very important. How to support lesson planning, how to set SMART targets and lots of good examples rated highly alongside practical expectations of time, paperwork and commitment for mentors. Regarding the content of the course itself SMCs colleagues wanted to see materials that ‘de-mystify the standards so that they don’t become overwhelming’ with video examples of mentors in practice. A course reader setting out the information in a straightforward way was valued by the group as well as practical guidance, based on research, of what works.

We also discussed activities for participants to complete during the course: self-evaluations of mentoring skills and knowledge was commonly agreed to be important, although quizzes to check understanding was viewed less so. Tips on key practices, provided by the course and sourced from the community, together with materials that encourage and support reflection drew the highest approval from the group. In the final activity SMCs contributed to an AnswerGarden (see below) in which they were asked to respond to the question ‘What skills do mentors need? In less than 40 characters.

answer garden SMCSee the Answer Garden and make your own contribution here

One key outcome for the planning of the course was to address teachers’ professionalism earlier in the course. We have done this by swapping the order of weeks 3 and 4 (see Curriculum page). This feedback was extremely useful to the course team in helping us plan and prepare the SHOOC for its opening on 16th January 2017.

Would you like to contribute to the development of the course? Please complete the survey at: https://goo.gl/forms/kkJJReEsR2d9Bytq1

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