At Billericay SCITT we believe that the relationship between trainee teachers and their mentors is one of the most essential aspects of the training year. We know our mentors provide great support for our trainee teachers so we decided to find out why the relationship is so important and what makes it so successful by asking some of our mentors as well as current trainees like Mollie, pictured above.
Before we ask our trainee teachers and their mentors for their views, we should explain the context of this crucial mentoring relationship for student teachers. Here at Billericay SCITT we provide an academic course of lectures and seminars that explore the educational theory underpinning classroom teaching (see our other posts for more detail on this). Running alongside and complementing it we provide a programme of practical teaching experience in our excellent partner schools across South Essex. This is where our trainees learn how to put what they have learnt into practice in a busy school environment. While they are working in schools, trainees are supported and guided every step of the way by a their subject mentor, an experienced specialist teacher of their subject who watches them teach and provides regular tips and feedback to help them improve. Trainees develop strong relationships with their mentors, meeting them every week to review progress and set targets for development. At Billericay SCITT we are aware of the vital importance of this key relationship to a trainee’s success on the programme. Course Director for Secondary Keely Conroy explains: “Every year we place more than seventy trainees in schools across South Essex. We train our mentors ourselves and provide regular sessions throughout the year to help them update their coaching skills and keep on top of the latest pedagogical developments. When we visit our trainee teachers in schools, as we do every few weeks, we also take the opportunity to assess the quality of the mentoring they are receiving. Our mentors are able to provide great support to trainees because we know our experienced mentor team very well, and we are careful to place all our trainees with the mentor who is best suited to develop their unique personality and skills”
Current Billericay SCITT trainee Mollie told us she finds the mentor sessions immensely valuable. “The regular mentor sessions are not just good opportunity to catch up with my mentor and to share how I am getting on with the busy life of teaching, they are also a safe space for me to voice any questions or concerns that I have. I feel as if my mentor genuinely cares for my wellbeing and development; the meetings definitely aren’t simply a box-ticking exercise”. Lidia, training to teach Design and Technology, couldn’t agree more. She tells us: ‘my subject mentor has been incredibly supportive. I feel understood and listened to always. I am grateful to have a mentor who is considerate to my wellbeing, and challenges me every day to meet by targets’. For their part, the specialist mentors enjoy the opportunity to work with the new trainee teachers. Emma has been mentoring trainees for five years. She tells us that she enjoys working with the whole team at the Billericay SCITT to support trainees. Keeping up regular contact with trainees’ Course Tutors, Lead Subject Mentors and the school based Professional Mentor is part of the job and enables her to plan to help her trainees with every aspect of their development. Most of all though she finds mentoring trainees is stimulating. She enjoys the energy and enthusiasm they bring to the profession. As she puts it: ‘mentoring trainees, every year you learn something new’.
We’d love to hear your feedback about the mentoring process, and we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have if you’re considering entering teacher training. Contact Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org to join the conversation