What does a good mentor do?

I've been an induction mentor for the last three years and it's a very rewarding job. New teachers are an enthusiastic bunch, unsullied by the cynicism that afflicts some of the old-timers. I've tried as a mentor:
  • to be generous with my time (hard in the hurly-burly of a busy term and requiring iron discipline but essential nonetheless. Meeting are far more likely to take place if they are properly calendared.
  • to be open about my own practice - to share, to invite observation and to encourage further professional development.
But the single most important attribute of a mentor I'd argue is being somewhat of a champion for the person you are mentoring. It is quite remarkable what people are capable of given a bit of encouragement to fuel their self belief.

Looking back over my career so far at the various mentors I have had it has been the ones who took the time to affirm, encourage and praise in a genuine and heartfelt way who I've grown most under. This doesn't, of course, preclude pointing out people's mistakes - far from it. But the best mentors are able to identify nascent strengths in their mentees and bring these out in them.


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