The Training Ground
Mentoring your trainee
works well, having a trainee teacher working alongside you can be great: not
only do you have the satisfaction of nurturing a new entrant to the profession
and passing on your professional wisdom, but you are likely to revisit and
critique your own teaching, and may be challenged to do things in a new way
(particularly if the trainee comes buzzing from university with lots of ideas
and approaches that they want to try). He or she may also be able to share with
you some recent research findings that you, snowed under with day-to-day
matters in school, might not have got round to reading quite yet.
Your partner ITE institution will no doubt provide you with
training, or at least some written guidance, but here is a checklist of things
you may need to do to make the placement run smoothly.
for the placement
- · Make
sure that you understand all the university’s current documentation, particularly
if you have previously mentored a trainee from another institution, or are
relying on memories of your own PGCE. All universities have their own paperwork
and procedures: you need to be familiar with up to date details.
- · Make
a note of key dates on a wall-planner and makes sure that this is clearly
displayed in the English office, easily accessible to you, colleagues and the
- · Draft
the trainee’s timetable, in consultation with the school’s Professional Tutor
(who has overall responsibility for trainees), your head of department and
you have access to information about the trainee, use it to discuss with
colleagues their possible training needs.
log-on details etc. so that the trainee has access to the school’s data systems
and VLE and can use the interactive whiteboards.
together a pack to present to the trainee on the first day – include the
school’s prospectus, the staff handbook, the departmental handbook, and any
other relevant information.
your trainee – the first week *
- · Meet
the trainee and introduce them to the English team! Also ensure that they are
introduced to other key people during the week – the Professional Tutor, the
technicians, the reprographics team, etc.
a tour of the school, perhaps with a pupil.
that the trainee knows where key things are located: the staffroom, the
library, the staff loos, the coffee machine.
the draft timetable with the trainee and confirm it; make sure that all
relevant people get a copy, including the university tutor.
the other responsibilities that the trainee will have during their placement –
attendance at meetings, joint form tutor duties, etc.
for the trainee to observe the classes that they will be teaching; ensure that
the trainee has time for a discussion with each class teacher about the class
as a whole and any learners with particular needs. Give them access to records
and relevant information (assessment data, IEPs, etc.)
whether the trainee will be expected to teach from the school’s schemes of work
or develop their own (the university may have given guidance on this) and
arrange a time to go through their initial attempts at planning.
that the trainee has time to read the pack of school documentation and allow
some time for them to ask questions.
the English department’s predilections and foibles – does everyone hog a corner
of the staffroom for lunch? What’s the mug policy? Who brings in the cakes and
when? Let them know everything they need to become part of the team.
the placement *
- · The
trainee will start teaching! Depending on the university’s guidance and the
confidence of the trainee, he or she might start team-teaching with you, taking
responsibility for phases of lessons (such as the starter or the plenary) - or
launch straight in. Make sure that you have agreed the expectations in advance.
regular observations of your trainee: your partner ICT institution might have
given you guidance on exactly how often observations should take place. Make
sure that you observe across all the classes that they are teaching. It’s often
helpful for you and other colleagues
to observe your trainee: colleagues might be able to offer tips and insights.
your trainee a timetabled slot each week in order to discuss their progress:
this is an opportunity to celebrate what’s gone well and set targets for
development. This should be an uninterrupted, ring-fenced slot – ensure that
you are not taken for cover or hijacked by other colleagues – to give the
trainee a guaranteed opportunity to talk with you, discuss what’s on their mind
and look forward to their next challenge.
for your trainee to complete other training activities that will help to
develop their teaching. This might include:
observing colleagues (both inside and outside
the faculty), perhaps with a particular focus
parents evenings/learning review days
extra-curricular experience (encourage them to join the school book club, edit
the school newspaper, start a song-writing group!)
on a school trip.
- · Check
that the trainee is keeping a record of their progress against the Standards
and that they are gathering evidence to corroborate this.
that the relevant paperwork is completed on time (and forwarded to the
university, if required).
with the course leader or moderator when they visit and make sure that you have
the opportunity to talk to them to discuss the trainee’s progress.
- · It
doesn’t always go smoothly: perhaps
your trainee is not as organised as a good teacher needs to be, or they get
demoralised when they find it hard to build a positive relationship with a
class, or their subject knowledge for a particular unit of work is wanting… If
you have any issues or concerns, contact the trainee’s course leader as
soon as you can. Remember that the trainee’s problems are not necessarily a
reflection on your mentoring skills, and the course leader would much prefer to
know sooner rather than later if the trainee is struggling.
the course leader, your school’s Professional Tutor and the trainee should be
able to discuss how best to support the trainee and plan the next steps.