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					                                   7          Mentoring


    Mentoring is also             Mentoring is a process during which one individual, usually
    discussed in TESM             a more senior and well-respected individual, and the
Manual 7 Section 3.4.             mentee, usually a novice, develop a relationship where the
                                  focus of the relationship is the personal and professional
                                  development of the mentee. Mentors guide mentees along a
                                  developmental journey, assisting them in their learning and
                                  reflective practice, helping them to make sense of their
                                  professional world, and assisting and encouraging them to
                                  build their own personal vision.
                                     Mentoring has the potential of integrating individuals into
                                  the organisation efficiently and ensuring that they become
                                  productive quickly. Mentoring should also play a significant
                                  role in developing the mentee’s full potential while
                                  avoiding professional blunders.

Mentoring is a very special one-on-one learning relationship, which evolves through a
number of stages.
   During the early phase the emphasis is on establishing the relationship, developing
the trust required for personal understanding, non-judgmental acceptance, meaningful
dialogue and self-disclosure.
   During the middle phase, as trust grows, the emphasis is placed on accumulating
knowledge and information about the mentee to ensure a factual understanding of the
mentee’s concerns and goals.
   The later phase explores the mentee’s interests, beliefs and the reasons for his or
her decisions, it enables the mentee to explore and understand his or her own self-
limiting strategies and behaviours.
   In the final phase the mentor actively directs the mentee to critically reflect on his
or her goals, to pursue challenges, and to be faithful to his or her own vision of the
chosen personal, educational and career path.
                                                                                    (Cohen, 1995)


                                  7.1 What roles do mentors play?
                                  A mentor, in the historical sense, is seen as someone who . . .
                                  • is a loyal friend, confidant and advisor
                                  • is a teacher, guide, coach and role model
                                  • is entrusted with the care and education of another



70   •   Managing Relationships Effectively
• has knowledge and advanced or expert status and who is
  attracted to and nurtures a person of talent and ability
• is willing to give away what he or she knows in a non-
  competitive way
• represents skill, knowledge, virtue and accomplishment.

The most effective mentors:
• welcome newcomers into the profession and take a
  personal interest in their career development and well-
  being
• want to share their knowledge, materials, skill and
  experience with those they mentor
• offer support, challenge, patience and enthusiasm while
  they guide others to new levels of competence
• point the way and represent tangible evidence of what
  one can become, expose the recipients of their mentoring
  to new ideas, perspectives and standards, and to the
  values and norms of the profession
• are more expert in terms of knowledge but view
                                                                     For more
  themselves as equal to those they mentor.                          information see:
                                                               The Mentor Centre
7.2 Why mentor?                                                (http://www.teacher
Mentoring focuses on the mentee as an individual, enabling     mentors.com).
him or her to learn and benefit from the experience of the
mentor, who is someone who knows how the profession
and the organisation functions. This is quite different from
the manager–subordinate relationship where the focus is
mainly on productivity and organisational efficiency.
   The potential benefit to the school of new employees
who are integrated into the system well and become
effective quickly is significant.
   Mentoring relationships can be developed in virtually any
situation where a less experienced individual and a more
experienced individual are prepared to work together.
An SEM could mentor a principal, who in turn could
mentor HODs, who in turn could mentor educators, who
could mentor learners. Equally, a more experienced
individual could mentor an individual of the same rank.
   A fully developed mentoring relationship is probably not
possible in situations where the mentor is or could be




                                                                       Mentoring   •   71
      Imagine the                  responsible for disciplinary measures or career opportu-
 !    power of a                   nities for the mentee. In these situations the element of trust
situation where                    becomes clouded with power relationships where there
educators know they                may be conflict between complete openness and discipline
have critical friends in           or career issues. Nevertheless, significant benefits can
the profession who                 accrue to the school and to individuals from mentoring
care about their                   relationships.
professional progress,
work with them, guide              7.3 How is a climate of trust developed?
them and help them
avoid mistakes.                    Mentoring depends on trust. It is only if there is trust that
                                   the mentees can truly reveal their innermost professional
                                   fears and aspirations. Without such disclosure mentors are
                                   not able to understand mentees properly and thus will not
                                   be able to provide the necessary guidance and support.
                                      A mentee must know that the mentor will respect the
                                   confidentiality of all information that is gathered during the
                                   mentoring relationship and not use the information against
                                   him or her.

                                   7.3.1 Ground rules
                                   Mentor and mentee should agree on when and where to
                                   meet, what issues are to be discussed and what action
                                   should take place between meetings. Compliance by both
                                   mentor and mentee with these rules is an essential
                                   mechanism for developing trust. Both must always do what
                                   they undertake to do.

                                   7.3.2 Listening skills
                                   The mentor needs to be able to listen, to truly hear what the
                                   mentee is saying. Many older and more experienced people
                                   are reluctant to listen to younger less experienced people
                                   and as a result they are unlikely to be very effective
                                   mentors. The focus of mentoring is to facilitate the develop-
                                   ment and learning of the mentee – not simply to teach the
                                   mentee what the mentor knows.

                                   7.3.3 Non-judgemental acceptance
                                   We all communicate through body language, voice tone,
                                   eye contact, facial expression and choice of words. In this
                                   way the mentor may inadvertently control rather than
                                   develop the mentee.



 72   •   Managing Relationships Effectively
7.3.4 Information base
The mentor and the mentee need to develop a common
understanding about what the mentee does and does not
know – where there are gaps in the mentee’s knowledge of
his or her profession, and in his or her skills and under-
standing. These are then the areas for future work.

7.3.5 Observation
The mentor must have opportunities to observe the mentee
working in his or her professional environment as this
provides knowledge and understanding of the mentee’s
ability and stage of development.

7.3.6 Confrontation
Constructive confrontation may be necessary when the mentee
cannot or is not willing to confront issues or accept challenges
to his or her practice, decisions or explanations. Obviously,
confrontation must be handled with care and respect if it is to
achieve the objective of extending the mentee.

7.3.7 Visioning
It is very important for the mentor to encourage the
development of the mentee’s professional vision.




                                                                   Mentoring   •   73

				
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