Effective Practices : Mentoring
Oversight and Review of the Mentoring Program
Mentoring Section 3
1. With what frequency is the mentoring program as a whole reviewed at your school? What are the criteria used to evaluate the program’s effectiveness?
2. In what ways does the person or group responsible for the mentoring program check in with the mentors and their assigned colleagues to ensure the relationship is working effectively during the year?
3. Do both the mentor and his/her assigned colleague evaluate the mentoring relationship at the end of the year?
4. How is the work of the mentor reviewed? Does the mentor do a self-assessment? Are reflections from the person being mentored included?
5. If the mentoring relationship is not going well or achieving the expected results, is the process for dealing with this clearly laid out and understood by all involved in the program? Are these processes followed?
6. Is each mentoring relationship well documented? Are both the mentor and his/her colleague expected to keep notes of their conversations and records of their meetings?
7. Do the mentors in the school meet as a group to discuss their work? With what frequency does this happen, and how are those meetings called and organized?
8. What is working particularly well at your school with regard to the review and administration of the mentoring program?
9. Are there aspects of the review and administration of the mentoring program that need improvement at your school? What should be changed and why?
With what frequency is the mentoring program as a whole reviewed at your school? What are the criteria used to evaluate the program’s effectiveness?
It is a general practice in schools to review the mentoring program as a whole on an annual basis. The evaluation is done by the group charged with administering the program, with a report generated to the College of Teachers or other leadership body of the school.
One school has been experimenting this year with the use of learning circles as a part of its mentoring and renewal program. (See: Mentoring and Renewal, Section 1, Question 2). The evaluation approach being taken in this school at the end of the first year of this program is instructive, and poses good questions which may be of value to other schools when they evaluate their own mentoring programs:
The school is just about to begin its first review cycle for the new learning circles program. It will be done in the spring and will look at several criteria:
- Are the eight learning circles broken into the right constellations? Currently we are broken into job-alike categories, and want to validate whether this approach versus mixed interest groups is best.
- Was the quality of the self-assessments conducted in the learning circles satisfactory? Were the faculty development plans that were written in the small groups of a professional quality?
- Did the learning circles enjoy a high level of participation? Were participants actively engaged in the work of the learning circles?
- Are things getting done in the learning circles? Do the groups respond to requests for information such as a recent request for feedback on the bullying and teasing program at the school?
- Does this approach completely replace the sponsor program that we had in place before learning groups?
One of the larger goals of the school is to create a whole-school team oriented approach among the faculty members. We feel that this new paradigm is essential to our ability to move the school ahead through strategic planning, accreditation and other processes. To this end we will also look at the effectiveness of the learning circles in creating teams of colleagues rather than perpetuating an old organizational approach in which the class teachers are the kings and queens of their individual realms.
At the end of the year the personnel committee will write a formal review of the learning groups program. The review will include recommendations for improving the work. It will be submitted to the College for approval and then approved recommendations will be implemented.
The effectiveness of our one-on-one mentoring relationships is evaluated through a meeting with the personnel committee, the mentor and the mentee. At these meetings we ask about how well the mentoring relationship fits the needs of the new colleague and how much progress that individual has made during the year. We will also look at the recommendations regarding mentoring that come out of the mentee’s evaluation, and make a determination about continuing the mentoring relationship in the coming year.
In what ways does the person or group responsible for the mentoring program check in with the mentors and their assigned colleagues to ensure the relationship is working effectively during the year?
Schools use a variety of approaches to check in with mentors and their assigned colleagues to ensure that the mentoring relationship is working well and that it is a productive one for the new employee.
In one school the pedagogical chair visits classes twice a year. At that time he checks in with the teacher about how the mentoring relationship is working. He also checks in with the new employee after the first month of school just to ensure that the relationship has gotten off to a strong start.
In other schools members of the Teacher Development Committee check in through conversation with both the mentor and the mentee throughout the year. The committee also meets as a group with each teacher for about 15 or 20 minutes during the course of the school year. Both the individual touch base sessions and the group ones are helpful in the work to ensure the quality of the mentoring program.
One school has a coordinator for their Human Resources Workgroup, and this coordinator is expected to check in on the various relationships to make sure that things are proceeding appropriately. The school notes that this check in is most effective when it is regularly scheduled to take place every two months during the school year.
Other schools require the mentors to fill out a report form on their work and to submit it to the governance council/College of Teachers. In addition the administrative chair checks in verbally with each person being mentored to ensure that the relationship is working well and the employee being mentored is well served.
Although a variety of individuals in the schools takes on the task of checking in with mentors and their mentees throughout the year, the critical element is that someone is formally assigned to check on these relationships and that the check-in occurs a few times a year.
Do both the mentor and his/her assigned colleague evaluate the mentoring relationship at the end of the year?
Schools are split on their approach to year end evaluations. Half of the schools surveyed indicated that the personnel committee or other such mandated group meets with the mentor and the mentee at year end to evaluate whether the mentee’s needs are being met and to make a determination if the mentoring relationship should continue on into the following school year.
In other schools the mentee only is asked for comments about the mentoring in her year-end evaluation. Still other schools rely on the mid-year check in sessions to determine the ongoing effectiveness of the mentoring relationships and do not conduct a separate year end evaluation.
How is the work of the mentor reviewed? Does the mentor do a self-assessment? Are reflections from the person being mentored included?
The mentee’s self-evaluation is the best source of information on the quality of the mentor’s work (See: Teacher Development End of Year Review (doc)). The self-evaluation provides an opportunity for each mentee to speak about how the mentoring went, whether progress was made over the course of the year, and the teacher’s goals for the coming year. Some schools also ask the mentor to do a self-evaluation and to ask for feedback from his or her mentee.
In many schools the mentor is asked at the beginning of the school year to submit a mentoring plan for her advisees. The plan outlines when the meetings will take place and when the classroom sessions will be observed. This plan is helpful at the end of the year when the personnel committee and the mentor evaluate the success of the mentoring relationships.
Schools do solicit comments and concerns from the people being mentored throughout the year, and this information is passed on to the mentors if there is an issue or concern. The governance council/College also reviews the written reports submitted by the mentors throughout the year to get a sense of the quality of the mentoring work that is being done.
If the mentoring relationship is not going well or achieving the expected results, is the process for dealing with this clearly laid out and understood by all involved in the program? Are these processes followed?
When difficulties first arise between a mentor and a mentee there is an expectation that the first step will be an attempt to work it out directly between the two people involved. If conversation does not resolve the issue then the matter is brought to the group responsible for overseeing the mentoring program. In some cases this is the human resource workgroup while in others it may be the governance council. In some cases the issue is first brought to the human resource committee coordinator. In each of these cases the school has a clearly defined process for dealing with difficulties that is understood by both the mentor and the mentee.
One school noted that it has an experienced mediator on staff who has been very helpful in facilitating conversation in situations where the mentoring relationship is difficult.
In all schools a change in the assigned mentor is made only after attempts have been made to resolve the issues between the mentor and her advisee.
Is each mentoring relationship well documented? Are both the mentor and his/her colleague expected to keep notes of their conversations and records of their meetings?
Some schools require logs to be kept of all mentoring conversations. These logs are turned in at the end of the year, unless difficulties arise sooner. Both the mentor and her advisee sign the log following each session. In addition to the log, both the mentor and her advisee take notes of their conversations.
In other cases the mentor submits a written report of her work with her advisee to the governance council or human resources group.
Some schools do not require any ongoing documentation regarding the frequency of meetings or of the subjects covered.
Do the mentors in the school meet as a group to discuss their work? With what frequency does this happen, and how are those meetings called and organized?
Most schools do not bring their mentors together as a group, although all acknowledged that this would be a very helpful way to strengthen the quality of the mentoring program.
One school noted that its mentors meet as a group in conjunction with attendance at the pedagogical advisors colloquiums. These meetings give the mentors a chance to compare notes on the effectiveness of their work and to hear from colleagues at other schools about various approaches that have been effective.
What is working particularly well at your school with regard to the review and administration of the mentoring program?
Our governance council stays in close contact with the mentors and those receiving school-assigned mentoring. Changes are made whenever necessary to ensure that the mentoring relationship is a productive one.
We have a clear process for evaluating teachers and looking at performance improvement goals, which makes it easy for us to see if the mentoring is having a positive effect.
We have a clearly laid out expectation that the personnel committee will review the learning group process at the end of the year and make recommendations to the College of Teachers.
The school has a demonstrated financial commitment to supporting the mentoring program. It is also helpful that the time for a mentor/mentee pair to meet is made possible in the schedule.
The school acknowledges that people need mentoring and are helped by this work.
The appointment of someone from the human resources workgroup to serve as the mentoring program coordinator means that there is conscious oversight of the program.
The annual goal setting process for the Teacher Development Committee has been really helpful, and has informed our work throughout the year.
The monthly reporting to the College has worked really well. This is an oral presentation that is noted in the College minutes, and it serves to make sure that everyone is up to speed on various issues.
Are there aspects of the review and administration of the mentoring program that need improvement at your school? What should be changed and why?
At this time we do not require the mentors to report on the frequency of their one-on-one meetings, nor on the topics being discussed. It would be helpful for us to create a standardized form so that mentors could easily let the personnel committee know that the sessions are taking place and a general description of the topics that were discussed at each meeting (e.g. upcoming class meeting, the temperaments, etc.)
A similar approach would be helpful with our learning circles. It would be very easy to ask each circle to submit a brief note giving the date of their meeting and a list of the topics covered. We need to strengthen our internal accountability through written records.
Getting mentors together a few times a year would be very helpful to the mentors and the teachers they serve.
We would be well served to ask mentors for a self-evaluation in a more formal way.
We need to begin asking the mentor for a self-evaluation of their work.
It would be very valuable if we could begin getting all the mentors together as a group a few times a year to discuss what is working well and what has been challenging in the mentoring work.