“M” is for March and Mentoring, by Marilena Pevreall

March was an easy month for a blog. I had many initial ideas, all essential and linked to a year in teaching. Metacognition, Memory, Mentoring, Mistakes. I decided to write about mentoring and share some of my earlier experiences of mentoring as a trainee teacher. Mentoring is one of the most important elements in teacher education. These initial steps play a crucial role in ensuring if a teacher will stay or leave the profession in the first five years.  

Prior to training as a secondary school teacher, I was employed at a UK University as a New Direction Lecturer. Part of this role was to develop the course documentation for a Foundation Degree in Paramedic Science and a Mentoring Course alongside the degree. The mentoring course was to enable existing ambulance staff to assist paramedic trainees during the Foundation degree. That stage in my career initiated my fascination about adult professional learning and development through mentoring. 

After 4 years lecturing about the importance of not administering any solutions with suspended particles intravenously to patients, I decided I wanted to retrain as a secondary school teacher. 

The first year of my teacher training (I did the GTP route-Graduate Teacher Programme)was characterised by varying degree of experience with mentors. In my main school, I had a pleasant but relatively inexperienced, young mentor who was given a lot of additional responsibility that she could manage.  The time she gave to mentoring meetings was varied and inconsistent.  

My second school placement mentor was not happy to undertake the role of mentor.  This was evident in her interactions with me as well as on her approach to feedback.  

I was very close to giving up my goal to becoming a qualified teacher in secondary education on multiple occasions. The main factors that helped me to persevere with the training were the classes and pupils that I was teaching and my university tutor who also acted as my mentor. He was a highly effective mentor. His advice I carry with me always and is applicable to many different settings. 

There are many different character traits of effective mentors.  By the term effective I mean creating teachers with excellent subject knowledge, resilience, happy to withstand any challenges that a teaching career may entail. 

My personal three most important characteristics of effective mentors are the following;  

A good, empathetic listener, listening between the lines, non-judgemental and dedicated. 

Excellent Subject knowledge: not the ‘fountain of all knowledge’ but clear on strategies to deal with misconceptions and finally open minded; someone who allows a new teacher to take suitable risks and become the best teacher they can be, not a clone version of their mentor. 

The mentors’ goal is to become unnecessary to the mentee as they grew in confidence in their classrooms. 

If you are interested in mentoring do have a look at our courses; 

Postgraduate certificate in Mentoring: Postgraduate Certificate in Mentoring (fully online) | University of Buckingham 

Postgraduate Diploma in Mentoring: Postgraduate Diploma In Mentoring (fully online) | University of Buckingham 

MA Education (mentoring): MA Education (Mentoring) (fully online) | University of Buckingham 

What are your three most important attributes for effective mentors? 

By Marilena Pevreall

Head of Secondary School Teacher Training, University of Buckingham

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  1. A good mentor is so important in building a young / starting teacher’s confidence – and being willing to model that openness or willingness to make mistakes themselves is so important for a mentor too.

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