Being an Effective Mentor: How to Help Beginning Teachers Succeed

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Kathleen Feeney Jonson

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  • Part I: Setting the Stage for the Teacher-Mentor

    Part II: Effective Strategies for the Good Mentor

    Part III: Putting it All Together

  • Dedication

    In loving memory of my father, Raymond Lloyd Feeney 1921–2002

    Master tradesman; Mentor to scores of apprentices.

    Copyright

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    Preface to the Second Edition

    Has there been anyone in your personal or professional life to whom you've regularly turned for advice and support? Someone who has had a significant and positive impact on your career as an educator? A caring co-worker you might even call your “mentor”?

    Many veteran teachers were never actually assigned a mentor. If they were lucky, they found informal assistance from experienced co-workers. Many think back to their first year in the classroom and remember the confusion of a difficult and lonely time when no one came to their aid.

    Fortunately, times are changing. Policies to establish teacher mentoring programs are currently sweeping the nation. At this writing, 28 states and the District of Columbia have instituted formal, funded, and mandated mentoring programs. Of course, even today, not all beginning teachers are fortunate enough to get the support they may need, but it is certainly a step in the right direction that someone like you is reading this book.

    Mentoring programs attract caring and committed teachers who recognize the complex and challenging nature of classroom teaching. In mentoring, these teachers demonstrate their hope and optimism for the future. They “pass the torch” by helping a new teacher become effective. They hope the beginner will discover the joys and satisfactions that they have found in their own careers. Mentors are not naive Pollyannas, however. They understand that mentoring can be a challenging endeavor requiring significant investments of time and energy. They have lots of empathy, but their decision to help is grounded in the real and the practical.

    Mentoring is defined as the professional practice that provides support, assistance, and guidance to beginning teachers to promote their professional growth and success. It is sometimes one program within a larger teacher induction program that also includes other activities such as orientations and inservices. The mentoring component is usually—but not always—a one-on-one relationship. A mentor can serve as a friend, guide, counselor, supporter, and teacher.

    In a complex and demanding profession such as teaching, there's no substitute for experience and a repertoire of “tried and true” strategies. Many beginning teachers find the stressful reality of their own classroom to be a shock. They struggle to cope. These new teachers—and their students—deserve the support and guidance of a skilled and experienced mentor.

    This book discusses the need for mentoring programs and provides useful strategies for mentors to use to help beginning teachers. Part I, Setting the Stage for the Teacher-Mentor, explains the context for mentoring programs, describes components of a successful program, reminds the teacher-mentor of the experiences and necessary skills of beginning teachers, and positions the mentor in the broader scope of teacher induction programs and professional development. This part not only is useful as context for teacher-mentors but it also provides helpful information for administrators establishing mentor programs in their schools. Part II, Effective Strategies for the Good Mentor, provides a wealth of useful strategies for mentors working with new teachers. Part III, Putting It All Together, offers specific activities for mentors to use with their mentees and provides a checklist as a practical guide.

    In Part I, Chapters 1 (Passing the Torch) and 2 (Setup for Success) provide a knowledge base useful to those structuring a mentor program. These introductory chapters contain a historical and policy perspective. In this sense, they are particularly important for staff developers and program administrators as well as for teacher leaders. They provide teachers and administrators with an understanding of the principles and prerequisites of successful mentoring programs. Topics explored include the role of the mentor, qualifications of a good mentor, and the importance of providing preparation and support for the mentoring process. New to this second edition is an expanded discussion of successful programs in Chapter 2, as well as a look at some possible variations in mentor programs.

    In Chapter 3, Remembering the First Days, mentors are encouraged to think back on their own first days in the classroom as they prepare to work with new teachers. “Reality shock” and the fears and anxieties of beginners are discussed. Chapter 4, Beyond Survival, provides an overview of the myriad of skills that beginners need to get off to a good start: teaching skills, interpersonal skills, and coping skills. Helping the beginner acquire these skills requires that the mentor perform a variety of functions. These functions range from serving as a role model in the full scope of daily professional activities to developing specific skills such as classroom observation.

    An all-new Chapter 5, Moving Toward Professionalism, sets the mentor in the broader context of teacher induction programs. It takes a close look at the Santa Cruz New Teacher Project, one program that is working and serves as a model for other programs. This new chapter also examines ways mentors can help teachers move beyond their initial need to survive and toward professionalism for a successful long-term teaching career. Finally, the chapter outlines some mentoring variations that are particularly useful for the teacher who is no longer a novice.

    How mentors develop trusting relationships is the heart of Chapter 6, Working as a Partner With the Adult Learner, the first chapter in Part II. Because mentoring relationships go through phases, Chapter 6 deals with how mentors need to adjust their responses as their protégés develop. Reflection is encouraged as an activity to promote refinement and discovery. Another chapter new to this second edition, Stages in Teacher Development (Chapter 7), explores the stages of development typical for teachers through two models—one that tracks the teacher through the first year on the job and another that looks at development throughout the teaching career.

    Chapter 8, Practical Strategies for Assisting New Teachers, explores specific strategies for mentoring. These include direct assistance, demonstration teaching, observation and feedback, informal contact, assistance with an action plan for professional growth, and role modeling. New to the second edition is a section on assessing student work.

    And finally, Chapter 9, Overcoming Obstacles and Reaping the Rewards, takes a close look at the pitfalls and payoffs of mentoring. The chapter includes an expanded discussion of ways for mentors to deal with some pitfalls, notably finding time to mentor in addition to all of the other teacher tasks and how to work with difficult mentees. The chapter also looks at the important question, Why be a mentor? There is little doubt that ongoing, meaningful contact between mentors and protégés reinforces and fosters professional development and builds trust—and the benefits are for mentors as well as for their mentees.

    In Part III, Putting It All Together, the mentor finds a month-by-month listing of suggested activities designed to promote interaction between mentors and their protégés. Activities have been suggested for each month to correspond with activities and events typically occurring in a school year. Following the monthly list of activities is a checklist for mentors to use as a practical guide. Finally, three appendixes provide valuable information and tools to help the mentor work with the beginning teacher.

    Although intended primarily for mentors, this book will be of interest to anyone concerned with the complex process of guidance, assistance, and support to promote growth and success for beginning teachers. Principals, staff developers, university supervisors, beginning and experienced teachers, and even parents and community members—we all can benefit from an understanding of the value and process of mentoring.

    Acknowledgments

    The contributions of the following reviewers for this book are gratefully acknowledged:

    • Patricia Schwartz
    • Principal
    • Thomas Jefferson Middle School
    • Teaneck, New Jersey
    • Joan Roberts
    • Coordinator/Administrator
    • Monterey County Office of Education
    • Salinas, California
    • RoseAnne O'Brien Vojtek
    • Principal
    • Ivy Drive Elementary School
    • Bristol Public Schools
    • Bristol, Connecticut
    • Linda Munger
    • Educational Consultant
    • Munger Education Associates
    • Des Moines, Iowa
    • Marti Richardson
    • NSDC Board of Trustees
    • Staff Development Supervisor
    • Knoxville, Tennessee
    • Also gratefully acknowledged are the contributions of reviewers for the second edition:
    • Carol Pelletier
    • Director, Professional Practice and Induction
    • Massachusetts
    • Dr. Tom Ganser
    • Director, Office of Field Experiences
    • Wisconsin
    • Kathy Rosebrock
    • BTSA Coordinator
    • California
    • Hal Portner
    • Corwin Press Author
    • Massachusetts
    • Barry Sweeny
    • Corwin Press Author
    • Illinois

    About the Author

    Kathleen Feeney Jonson, EdD, is currently Professor and Director of the Master of Arts in the Teaching Reading program in the Teacher Education Department of the University of San Francisco. As the oldest of nine children, she says she was born to teach and mentor. In her 37 years as an educator, she has taught at the elementary and secondary levels and has served as a reading specialist, director of staff development, principal, and director of curriculum and instruction. She has conducted numerous workshops for teachers and administrators on such topics as integrating the curriculum, reading comprehension strategies, the writing process, portfolio assessment, peer coaching, and beginning teacher assistance programs. She has developed numerous curriculum guides, training syllabi, and program materials for educators and parents. Her professional experience includes teaching university courses in elementary and secondary curriculum and instruction, as well as serving as Field Coordinator working with student teachers, teacher-mentors, and university supervisors. She has published three books with Corwin Press, including 60 Strategies for Improving Reading Comprehension in Grades K-8 (2006), The New Elementary Teacher's Handbook, 2nd ed. (2001), and Being an Effective Mentor: How to Help Beginning Teachers Succeed, 1st ed. (2002).

  • Month-by-Month Mentoring Activities

    August (or One Month Prior to Start of School)
    Mentoring Activities and Ideas
    • Meet and welcome mentee.
      • Welcome mentee in a telephone call before the start of school.
      • Take mentee on tour of school building.
      • Introduce mentee to other teachers and staff.
    • Work on developing collegial relationship.
      • Have coffee or lunch away from building.
      • Attend social gatherings together or meet in some social setting.
    • Help mentee set up room.
    • Communicate with principal.
      • Send informal note about making contact with mentee and about initial plans.
    School/District/University Activities
    • Match mentors and mentees.
    • Notify mentor-mentee teams of matches.
    • Hold orientation or social gathering.
    • Schedule workshops.
    Things to Keep in Mind
    • Remember: Early contact is essential.
    • Establish a system for ongoing communication.
    • Orientation or a social gathering is important to success.
    September (or First Month of School)
    Mentoring Activities and Ideas
    • Hold informal meetings.
      • “Drop in” to touch base with mentee.
      • With mentee, analyze class composition (gender, ethnicity, achievement scores, friendship/rivalries).
      • Share a funny or interesting event that happened during the day.
      • Write occasional notes acknowledging or supporting mentee's activities and successes.
      • Meet informally for coffee.
    • Hold bimonthly conferences to discuss
      • Keeping gradebooks
      • Maintaining student discipline
      • Managing classroom instruction
      • Obtaining supplies
      • School policies and procedures
      • Homework and makeup work policies
      • Maximizing academic learning time
      • Preparing for parent conferences, contacting parents
    • Help mentee socialize within school.
      • Discuss school norms, social traditions.
      • Introduce mentee to other staff.
      • Show mentee where to find supplies, materials, and so on.
      • Review standard operating procedures.
    • Work on collegial relationship with mentee.
      • Continue frequent communication and contact.
    • Plan mentor activities with mentee.
      • Cooperatively develop flexible Mentor-Mentee Action Plan.
    • Arrange demonstration lesson for mentee.
      • Schedule demonstration lesson to be observed and followed up by conference.
      • Conduct initial demonstration in mentor's classroom.
    • Communicate with principal.
    School/District/University Activities
    • Encourage and support activities.
    • Plan workshops for mentors, mentees, or both.
    Things to Keep in Mind
    • Be very accessible the first day and week of school.
    • Your relationship is key to success.
    • Hold at least one scheduled meeting with mentee bimonthly. Focus at meeting on specific ideas and concerns (see specific suggestions for each month).
    • “Socialization” includes written and unwritten rules of “how things work around here.”
    • Tell the school principal about your initial contact and planning with your mentee, but not about mentee performance.
    • Focus on developing a professional, collegial relationship—more than just a friendship.
    • See Appendix B for Action Plan examples and forms you can use.
    • Refer to “Demonstration Teaching” in Chapter 8 for procedure.
    • Have fun!
    October (or Second Month of School)
    Mentoring Activities and Ideas
    • Hold bimonthly conferences to discuss
      • Parent conferencing, parent contacts
      • Report cards
      • Classroom management
      • Discipline
      • Managing instructional tasks, time management
      • Audiovisual department
      • Student motivation and feedback
      • Mentor-Mentee Action Plan
      • Mentee's goals and professional development plan
    • Observe mentee and give feedback.
      • Schedule observation with pre- and postconference time.
      • Identify focus for next observation.
    • Hold informal discussions.
      • Continue to share events and happenings of the day.
    • Share resources for professional development opportunities, such as
      • State and county offices of education and similar supporting agencies
      • Local university and college courses
      • District staff development programs
    • Communicate with principal.
    School/District/University Activities
    • Plan activities to encourage communication and to allow mentors and mentees to share experiences.
    • Consider using principals, district office staff, state and county offices of education, and staff from other supporting agencies in planning mentor-mentee activities.
    Things to Keep in Mind
    • The first formal observation should be nonthreatening; refer to “Observation and Feedback” in Chapter 8.
    • Consider taking a university class together with your mentee or attending a workshop together.
    November (or Third Month of School)
    Mentoring Activities and Ideas
    • Hold bimonthly conferences to discuss
      • Parent conferences, communications
      • Feedback to students
      • Curriculum resources and materials
      • Mentor-Mentee Action Plan
      • Arrangements for substitute teachers
    • Continue observation and feedback.
    • Continue discussions about professional development opportunities.
    • Communicate with principal.
    Things to Keep in Mind
    • Check your district and building calendars to anticipate upcoming activities you should discuss or plan for.
    • Schedule opportunities for your mentee to observe other teachers. Make suggestions and help with arrangements if appropriate.
    • Recognize that this is often a difficult month for new teachers.
    December (or Fourth Month of School)
    Mentoring Activities and Ideas
    • Hold bimonthly conferences to discuss
      • School traditions
      • School and district policies regarding holiday events and activities
    • Communicate informally.
      • Write short notes of reinforcement and support.
    • Hold formal observation and conference.
    • Communicate with principal.
    Things to Keep in Mind
    • Because of holidays, you may not want to do observations this month. Talk it over with your mentee.
    January (or Fifth Month of School)
    Mentoring Activities and Ideas
    • Hold bimonthly conferences to discuss
      • School and classroom procedures for ending and beginning the semester
      • Report cards and grading
      • Curriculum resources
      • Promoting positive relationships among students and teachers
      • Student work/progress thus far
      • Mentor-Mentee Action Plan
    • Review first-term experiences.
      • Discuss highlights.
      • Evaluate growth experiences.
      • Celebrate successes.
    • Celebrate completion of first term.
      • Plan visible recognition.
    • Continue informal communications.
    • Communicate with principal.
    School/District/University Activities
    • Review experiences and evaluate current success of program with mentors or supervisors; identify any modifications needed.
    Things to Keep in Mind
    • Reflection helps promote learning and growth.
    • Be creative! Involve mentee's students in celebration.
    • Informal communications are still very important; look for new opportunities.
    • Continue communication with principal.
    February (or Sixth Month of School)
    Mentoring Activities and Ideas
    • Hold bimonthly conferences to
      • Plan activities for second semester
      • Review and discuss district office staff roles, departments, and support services
      • Share literature, research readings, and professional journals
      • Review Mentor-Mentee Action Plan
      • Discuss use of community resources, such as guest speakers and field trips
      • Discuss standardized testing
    • Continue informal communications.
    • Communicate with principal.
    Things to Keep in Mind
    • A plan is very helpful, but it should be reviewed and modified regularly as needs change.
    • Be sure to check with the local district and state for mandated test schedules, and build in preparation for tests.
    March (or Seventh Month of School)
    Mentoring Activities and Ideas
    • Hold bimonthly conferences to discuss
      • Mentee's concerns and needs
      • Professional organizations
      • Mentor-Mentee Action Plan
    • Arrange for mentee observation of other teachers.
    • Work on peer-based relationship with mentee.
    • Continue informal communications.
    • Discuss type of observations needed.
    • Communicate with principal.
    School/District/University Activities
    • Hold inservice workshops for mentors, mentees, or both.
    Things to Keep in Mind
    • Your mentee may not be familiar with various professional associations and with the relative advantages of membership.
    • Mentees will continue to benefit from observations of other teachers.
    • Be specific when identifying needs and giving feedback.
    • Be sure to make known your own inservice needs and those of other mentors.
    April (or Eighth Month of School)
    Mentoring Activities and Ideas
    • Hold bimonthly conferences.
      • Discuss career planning and development.
      • Talk about testing and evaluation services.
      • Review Mentor-Mentee Action Plan.
      • Begin discussion of bringing the year to a close.
    • Continue informal communications.
    • Continue Action Plan activities.
    • Communicate with principal.
    Things to Keep in Mind
    • Focus on building the mentee's autonomy and self-confidence.
    May (or Ninth Month of School)
    Mentoring Activities and Ideas
    • Hold bimonthly conferences.
      • Discuss procedures for ending the year.
      • Discuss procedures for beginning the following year.
    • Revise mentor-mentee activities.
    • Continue informal communications.
    • Build and reinforce peer relationship.
    • Communicate with principal.
    School/District/University Activities
    • Celebrate completion of first year of teaching with
      • Awards or certificates signed by the superintendent, principal, or director of teacher education program
      • Recognition banquet for mentors and mentees
    Things to Keep in Mind
    • Begin to move the mentor-mentee relationship away from previously established schedules and patterns.
    • Continue to focus on mentee autonomy, self-confidence, and self-direction.
    • Review, reflect, and celebrate!
    June (or Final Month of School)
    Mentoring Activities and Ideas
    • Hold bimonthly conferences to
      • Discuss mentee concerns
      • Review year's events
    • Continue recognition of mentee and of mentoring program.
    • Communicate with principal.
    School/District/University Activities
    • Evaluate program.
    • Identify goals for next year.
    Things to Keep in Mind
    • This is a time to reflect on the year just ending and to think of its impact on the year to come.
    • The benefits of the program should remain visible to the staff.
    • This is a great time to hold a meeting of all mentors.

    Year-at-a-Glance Checklist

    August (or One Month Prior to Start of School)
    • Meet and welcome mentee.
    • Work on developing collegial relationship.
    • Help mentee set up room.
    • Communicate with principal.
    • Begin participation in school/district/university activities.
    September (or First Month of School)
    • Hold informal meetings.
    • Hold bimonthly conferences.
    • Help mentee socialize within school.
    • Work on collegial relationship with mentee.
    • Plan mentor activities with mentee.
    • Arrange demonstration lesson for mentee.
    • Communicate with principal.
    October (or Second Month of School)
    • Hold bimonthly conferences.
    • Observe mentee and give feedback.
    • Hold informal discussions.
    • Share resources for professional development opportunities.
    • Communicate with principal.
    November (or Third Month of School)
    • Hold bimonthly conferences.
    • Continue observation and feedback.
    • Continue discussions about professional development opportunities.
    • Communicate with principal.
    December (or Fourth Month of School)
    • Hold bimonthly conferences.
    • Communicate informally.
    • Hold formal observation and conference.
    • Communicate with principal.
    January (or Fifth Month of School)
    • Hold bimonthly conferences.
    • Review first-term experiences.
    • Celebrate completion of first term.
    • Continue informal communications.
    • Communicate with principal.
    February (or Sixth Month of School)
    • Hold bimonthly conferences.
    • Continue informal communications.
    • Communicate with principal.
    March (or Seventh Month of School)
    • Hold bimonthly conferences.
    • Arrange for mentee observation of other teachers.
    • Work on peer-based relationship with mentee.
    • Continue informal communications.
    • Discuss type of observations needed.
    • Communicate with principal.
    April (or Eighth Month of School)
    • Hold bimonthly conferences.
    • Continue informal communications.
    • Continue Action Plan activities.
    • Communicate with principal.
    May (or Ninth Month of School)
    • Hold bimonthly conferences.
    • Revise mentor-mentee activities.
    • Continue informal communications.
    • Build and reinforce peer relationship.
    • Communicate with principal.
    June (or Final Month of School)
    • Hold bimonthly conferences.
    • Continue recognition of mentee and of mentoring program.
    • Communicate with principal.
    • Complete school/district/university activities.

    Appendix A: First-Day Checklist

    The first days of school are critical for a new teacher. Harry Wong says that teachers determine their success or failure for the rest of the school year by what they do on the first days (Wong & Wong, 1991). Student achievement at the end of the year is directly related to the degree to which the teacher establishes good control of the classroom procedures in the very first week of the school year. Few beginning teachers receive any instruction on what to do on the first day of school, however, and few get any experience or training during student teaching on what to do on that day.

    To prepare for the first day, the beginning teacher often needs help from a mentor. The beginning teacher needs to think through all the specific procedures needed to maintain a classroom environment in which instruction and learning can occur. The beginning teacher and mentor can discuss in advance which practices and procedures the beginning teacher will establish and how to communicate these carefully to students so they will know what to expect. The checklist provided here is offered as a discussion starter.

    Checklist
    Preparing for the First Day

    Efficiency in the classroom is the hallmark of an effective learning environment. Established procedures, taught to students at the onset of the school year and consistently applied, will significantly improve classroom management time.

    Directions:

    • Check each item for which you already have a prepared process.
    • Place an X by each item for which you do not have a policy but believe you need one.
    • Highlight those items that you will teach the students the first day of class.
    • Beginning Class
      • Roll call, absent, tardy
      • Academic warm-ups
      • Distributing materials
      • Class opening
    • Room/School Areas
      • Shared materials
      • Teacher's desk
      • Drinks, bathroom, pencil sharpener
      • Student storage/lockers
      • Student desks
      • Learning centers, stations
      • Playground, school grounds
      • Lunchroom
      • Halls
    • Setting Up Independent Work
      • Defining “working alone”
      • Identifying problems
      • Identifying resources
      • Identifying solutions
      • Scheduling
      • Interim checkpoints
    • Instructional Activities
      • Teacher, student contacts
      • Student movement in the room
      • Signals for students’ attention
      • Signals for teacher's attention
      • Student talk during seatwork
      • Activities to do when work is done
      • Student participation
      • Laboratory procedures
      • Movement in and out of small groups
      • Bringing materials to school
      • Expected behavior in group
      • Behavior of students not in group
    • Ending Class
      • Putting away supplies, equipment
      • Cleaning up
      • Organizing class materials
      • Dismissing class
    • Interruptions
      • Rules
      • Talk among students
      • Conduct
      • Passing out books, supplies
      • Turning in work
      • Handing back assignments
      • Getting back assignments
      • Out-of-seat policies
      • Consequences for misbehavior
    • Other Procedures
      • Fire drills
      • Lunch procedures
      • Student helpers
      • Safety procedures
    • Work Requirements
      • Heading papers
      • Use of pen or pencil
      • Writing on back of paper
      • Neatness, legibility
      • Incomplete work
      • Late work
      • Missed work
      • Due dates
      • Makeup work
      • Supplies
      • Coloring or drawing on paper
      • Use of manuscript or cursive
    • Communicating Assignments
      • Posting assignments
      • Orally giving assignments
      • Provision for absentees
      • Long-term assignments
      • Term schedule
      • Homework assignments
    • X. Student Work
      • In-class participation
      • In-class assignments
      • Homework
      • Stages of long-term assignments
    • Checking Assignments in Class
      • Students exchanging papers
      • Marking and grading assignments
      • Turning in assignments
      • Students correcting errors
    • Grading Procedures
      • Determining grades
      • Recording grades
      • Grading long assignments
      • Extra-credit work
      • Keeping papers, grades, assignments
      • Grading criteria
      • Contracting for grades
    • Academic Feedback
      • Rewards and incentives
      • Posting student work
      • Communicating with parents
      • Students’ record of grades
      • Written comments on assignments
    SOURCE: Adapted from Achieving Excellence, Mid-Continent Regional Educational Laboratory, Kansas City, MO, 1983.

    Appendix B: Mentor-Mentee Action Plans

    Mentor-Mentee Action Plans can be designed as a collaborative guide for mentors and mentees as they conjointly plan their activities for the academic year. Typically, an Action Plan serves three functions:

    • To clarify the roles and responsibilities of the mentor and mentee
    • To provide a focus and framework for mentor-mentee teamwork
    • To become an informative resource when shared with others

    Several sample Mentor-Mentee Action Plans follow. Take a look to see if this sort of planning would work for you. Check with your school or district to see if it has a similar planning form.

    Sample Elementary Level Mentor-Mentee Action Plan

    Mentor:____________

    Mentee: ____________

    School/District: ____________

    Date: ____________

    Three Priority Goals for the Year
    • To obtain a broad view of teaching styles and strategies
    • To develop mastery of second-grade curriculum
    • To maximize time spent on learning tasks

    Sample Middle School Level Mentor-Mentee Action Plan

    Mentor: _______________

    Mentee: _______________

    School/District: _______________

    Date: _______________

    Three Priority Goals for the Year
    • To become comfortable with the sixth-grade curriculum and find exciting and meaningful ways to present it
    • To gain a general orientation to district and school programs
    • To incorporate cooperative learning as a teaching strategy

    Sample High School Level Mentor-Mentee Action Plan

    Mentor: _______________

    Mentee: _______________

    School/District: _______________

    Date: _______________

    Three Priority Goals for the Year
    • To use effective educational strategies
    • To coordinate and integrate state, district, and school curriculum standards within the Home and Family Life Program (HFL)
    • To create a plan for the future direction of the HFL Program in the high school

    Appendix C: Supervisory Beliefs Inventory

    by CarlGlickman, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

    The Supervisory Beliefs Inventory (Glickman, 1985) is an excellent tool for mentors to use in thinking about the challenges of interpersonal communication and their own personal orientation to supervision. Part I is a prediction section in which individuals guess how they would place themselves. Part II is a forced-choice instrument that, if answered honestly, gives a reality index of how the individual acts. Glickman points out that one orientation is not necessarily better than the others. For a complete discussion of each of the three orientations, refer to Chapters 3 through 5 in Glickman's Supervision of Instruction: A Developmental Approach. See Chapter 3 in this book for more on Glickman's work. Although he uses the term “supervision,” much of what he has to say applies to mentoring.

    The Supervisory Beliefs Inventory

    This inventory is designed for supervisors to assess their own beliefs about teacher supervision and professional development. The inventory assumes that supervisors believe and act according to all three of the orientations of supervision, yet one usually dominates. The inventory is designed to be self-administered and self-scored. The second part lists items for which supervisors must choose one of two options. A scoring key follows, which can be used to compare the predictions of Part I with the actual beliefs indicated by the forced-choice items of Part II.

    Part I. Predictions

    Instructions: Check one answer for each question.

    Part II. Forced Choices

    Instructions: Circle either A or B for each item. You may not completely agree with either choice, but choose the one that is closest to how you feel.

      • Supervisors should give teachers a large degree of autonomy and initiative within broadly defined limits.
      • Supervisors should give teachers directions about methods that will help them improve their teaching.
      • It is important for teachers to set their own goals and objectives for professional growth.
      • It is important for supervisors to help teachers reconcile their personalities and teaching styles with the philosophy and direction of the school.
      • Teachers are likely to feel uncomfortable and anxious if the objectives on which they will be evaluated are not clearly defined by the supervisor.
      • Evaluations of teachers are meaningless if teachers are not able to define with their supervisors the objectives for evaluation.
      • An open, trusting, warm, and personal relationship with teachers is the most important ingredient in supervising teachers.
      • A supervisor who is too intimate with teachers risks being less effective and less respected than a supervisor who keeps a certain degree of professional distance from teachers.
      • My role during supervisory conferences is to make the interaction positive, to share realistic information, and to help teachers plan their own solutions to problems.
      • The methods and strategies I use with teachers in a conference are aimed at our reaching agreement over the needs for future improvement.
    • In the initial phase of working with a teacher:
      • I develop objectives with each teacher that will help accomplish school goals.
      • I try to identify the talents and goals of individual teachers so they can work on their own improvement.
    • When several teachers have a similar classroom problem, I prefer to:
      • Have the teachers form an ad hoc group and help them work together to solve the problem.
      • Help teachers on an individual basis find their strengths, abilities, and resources so that each one finds his or her own solution to the problem.
    • The most important clue that an inservice workshop is needed is when:
      • The supervisor perceived that several teachers lack knowledge of skill in a specific area, which is resulting in low morale, undue stress, and less effective teaching.
      • Several teachers perceive the need to strengthen their abilities in the same instructional area.
      • The supervisory staff should decide the objectives of an inservice workshop since they have a broad perspective of the teachers’ abilities and the school's needs.
      • Teachers and the supervisory staff should reach consensus about the objectives of an inservice workshop before the workshop is held.
      • Teachers who feel they are growing personally will be more effective in the classroom than teachers who are not experiencing personal growth.
      • The knowledge and ability of teaching strategies and methods that have been proven over the years should be taught and practiced by all teachers to be effective in their classrooms.
    • When I perceive that a teacher might be scolding a student unnecessarily:
      • I explain, during a conference with the teacher, why the scolding was excessive.
      • I ask the teacher about the incident but do not interject my judgment.
      • One effective way to improve teacher performance is to formulate clear behavioral objectives and create meaningful incentives for achieving them.
      • Behavioral objectives are rewarding and helpful to some teachers but stifling to others; also, some teachers benefit from behavioral objectives in some situations but not in others.
    • During a preobservation conference:
      • I suggest to the teacher what I could observe, but I let the teacher make the final decision about the objectives and methods of observation.
      • The teacher and I mutually decide the objectives and methods of observation.
      • Improvement occurs very slowly if teachers are left on their own, but when a group of teachers works together on a specific problem, they learn rapidly and their morale remains high.
      • Group activities may be enjoyable, but I find that individual, open discussion with a teacher about a problem and its possible solutions leads to more sustained results.
    • When an inservice or professional development workshop is scheduled:
      • All teachers who participated in the decision to hold the workshop should be expected to attend it.
      • Teachers, regardless of their role in forming a workshop, should be able to decide if the workshop is relevant to their personal or professional growth and, if not, should not be expected to attend.
    Scoring Key
    Step 1. Circle Your Answer from Part II of the Inventory in the Columns below

    Step 2. Tally the Total Number of Circled Items in Each Column and Multiply by 6.7
    • 2.1 Total response in Column I_________× 6.7 =_________
    • 2.2 Total response in Column II_________× 6.7 =_________
    • 2.3 Total response in Column III_________× 6.7 =_________
    Step 3. Interpretation

    The product you obtained in Step 2.1 is an approximate percentage of how often you take a directive approach to supervision, rather than either of the other two approaches. The product you obtained in Step 2.2 is an approximate percentage of how often you take a collaborative approach to supervision, rather than either of the other two approaches, and the product you obtained in Step 2.3 is an approximate percentage of how often you take a nondirective approach. The approach on which you spend the greatest percentage of time is the supervisory model that dominates your beliefs. If the percentage values are equal or close to equal, you take an eclectic approach.

    You can also compare these results with your predictions in Part I.

    What to Do with Your Score

    You now have a base to look at the orientation with which you are most comfortable. If your scores for two or three orientations were about equal (30% nondirective, 40% collaborative, and 30% directive), you are either confused or more positively eclectic. If you are eclectic, you probably consider varying your supervisory orientations according to each situation. Practitioners of one orientation might be more effective by learning the very precise supervisory behaviors that are needed to make that orientation work. To think that supervision is collaborative is incomplete until one knows how to employ techniques that result in collaboration. Many supervisors and mentors profess to be of a certain orientation but unknowingly use behaviors that result in different outcomes.

    SOURCE: Glickman, C. D. (1985). Supervision of instruction: A developmental approach. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. From “Developmental Supervision: Alternative Practices for Helping Teachers Improve Instruction,” by Carl D. Glickman, 1981, pp. 12–15. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Copyright © 1981 ASCD. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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