Effective Practices : Mentoring


Evaluations and Mentoring
Mentoring Section 4

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1. Is the school’s evaluation process separate from the mentoring program, or do mentors also serve as evaluators?
2. In what ways is the distinction between mentorship and evaluation made clear to all personnel?
3. Are mentors required to report on their observations to anyone other than the person being mentored?
4. What course of action does your school expect a mentor to take if serious concerns arise about the quality of work done by the person being mentored?
5. Are personnel evaluations shared with both the mentor and the person being evaluated?
6. In what ways does the mentor support a colleague in receiving additional outside support such as participating in classes, conferences and other off-site activities?
7. What is working particularly well at your school with regard to the relationship between mentoring and evaluation activities?
8. If there were something you could change with regard to the overlap between mentoring and evaluation, what would it be and why?

MEN 4-1

Is the school’s evaluation process separate from the mentoring program, or do mentors also serve as evaluators?
Mentors never serve as evaluators for the teachers they advise, and it is crucial that the mentoring and evaluation processes be kept separate. One school noted, “The mentor visits the advisee’s classroom twice a year and does write-ups of her observations. A copy of these write-ups is given to the Teacher Development Committee, but they are not evaluative in nature, simply a narrative description of what was observed. The mentoring relationships at our school are considered confidential and are expected to be supportive. To this end the mentoring work cannot cross over into evaluation.”

Another school elaborated further: “At our school the evaluation process is very separate from that of mentoring. An employee is evaluated in the first year of employment and every three years after that. The governance council has created two committees to coordinate evaluations, one for teachers and one for staff.

“For teacher evaluations someone is picked to do an in-class observation of the teacher. In about half of the cases this observation is done by someone outside of the school. The person being evaluated can block the person selected to do the evaluation if there is a difficulty, but he may not choose the evaluator; this is done by the committee. In preparation for the evaluation the teacher is asked to write a self-evaluation, noting particular areas of strength and areas where the individual wishes to further develop his skills. The evaluator meets with the teacher before the first class and discusses the teacher’s self-evaluation. The pair meets again after the first day of observation for feedback and discussion and then again after the second day of observation. The evaluator prepares a written report detailing her observations. While this process of observation is underway the committee also sends forms to about 15 people (teachers, staff members and parents) asking for feedback in particular areas of the teacher’s performance. These questionnaires, which are not anonymous, are returned to the review committee.

“Once everything is complete the review committee compiles the feedback from the observer and the questionnaires into a single document. The person being evaluated meets with the committee for about an hour once the documentation is completed. The teacher is allowed to see the original documents submitted by the evaluator and those completing the questionnaires if desired, although this request is rarely made. The teacher has an opportunity to add a response to the review if he desires, and then all of the documentation is added to the employee’s personnel file.

“A similar process is used to evaluate staff. Staff reviews are done by the administrative director along with a Board member. No observation of the staff member’s work is done, but a self-evaluation is submitted and forms are mailed to a variety of colleagues and parents for feedback. Again the results are compiled by the staff evaluation committee and discussed with the employee before the documentation is placed into the employee’s file.

“In cases where an employee has been placed under evaluative review and a school-assigned mentor is in place, this is done with the clear understanding that the mentor will be asked for feedback on performance. In no other cases are the mentors involved with the review process.”

Editor’s Note: For additional information on Evaluations, See: Human Resources, Section 5, Evaluations. For a sample teacher evaluation form, See: Evaluation Guidelines (xls).

MEN 4-2

In what ways is the distinction between mentorship and evaluation made clear to all personnel?
The mentor relationship is one that is built on trust and relies on the ability of a mentee to share his difficulties and questions fully with his advisor. This freedom to share the deepest questions that may be living in someone cannot exist if someone fears that a revelation might be used against him later in an evaluation.

Typically the Teacher Development Committee speaks about the separation between mentoring and evaluation on a regular basis at faculty presentations. The mentors are all aware of this separation and discuss it with their advisees. In schools with established mentoring programs this separation is generally well understood, but nonetheless it is repeated regularly.

MEN 4-3

Are mentors required to report on their observations to anyone other than the person being mentored?
Many schools ask their mentors to keep a log or submit a form recording their mentoring visits. The form or log notes the date of the visit and the subjects discussed in very general terms. Frequently the mentor is asked to submit notes documenting her observations during the semi-annual classroom visit.

In one school the pedagogical chair follows up with mentors and asks how things are proceeding with her advisee. The mentor is expected to answer in a general way such as, “Things are going well. We’ve been working on his upcoming parent meeting, the main lesson book expectations for an upcoming block, and methods for working with the temperaments.” No more detailed report is requested or expected.

MEN 4-4

What course of action does your school expect a mentor to take if serious concerns arise about the quality of work done by the person being mentored?
If a mentor has concerns about a colleague’s progress he should first give a reasonable amount of time for transformation to take place. If the concerns continue, the mentor must advise the mentee that the Teacher Development Committee will be brought into the loop as it is clear that the mentor is not able to provide the teacher with the necessary guidance to transform the areas of concern. Both the mentor and the mentee will speak with the Teacher Development Committee and a conversation will take place to determine what is really being called for. Sometimes the result is that a new mentor is assigned. In other cases a special assessment is done so that a second opinion is obtained about the concerns expressed by the mentor. If the evaluator shares the same concerns then appropriate action can be taken.

In schools with a pedagogical chair the evaluator is expected to notify the chair that there are serious concerns, and the chair schedules a visit to the class. Based on this visit and a number of other indicators such as student behavioral issues, families leaving the class, collegial concerns and so on the pedagogical chair and the teacher development committee will make a decision as to whether a full evaluation will be scheduled.

MEN 4-5

Are personnel evaluations shared with both the mentor and the person being evaluated?
Schools handle this issue in various ways. In some schools the mentor always sits in on the evaluation conversation when her advisee receives the written evaluation report. The schools who take this approach feel that this allows future mentoring work to be fully supportive of the goals outlined in the review.

In other schools the detailed evaluation is considered a personal document, and is not shared in detail with the mentor. The mentor is provided separately a list of those areas in which particular support and attention is needed so that the mentoring work can be focused and productive.

MEN 4-6

In what ways does the mentor support a colleague in receiving additional outside support such as participating in classes, conferences and other off-site activities?
Mentors often suggest things such as observing another teacher (inside or outside of the school) or particular classes or workshops that might be of help to the teacher being mentored. A mentor for a class teacher in the early grades might suggest attendance at a singing or speech workshop, or a class that focuses on movement for grades 1-3. Most schools expect teachers to do several days of outside training or professional development a year, and many make funds available to help ensure that this happens.

MEN 4-7

What is working particularly well at your school with regard to the relationship between mentoring and evaluation activities?
Everyone knows clearly that evaluation and mentoring are separate activities, and that the mentoring relationship is a confidential one that is intended to support and protect the new employee.

The two processes of mentoring and evaluation are very separate. Mentoring can trigger an evaluation and an evaluation can inform the mentoring, but they are viewed discreetly and kept separate.

There is very clear and open communication about evaluation results and recommendations so that the mentor is aware of the areas that need to be transformed and true support can be given.

The evaluation of classroom teaching is really done well. We have an established group of people who work with the school and who have recognized strengths in particular areas.

Everyone has a clear understanding of the difference between mentoring and evaluation, so those being evaluated never worry that their confidences will be shared inappropriately by their mentors.

We are able to see when things are working for a new teacher in the classroom and when they are not. We don’t get surprised. This doesn’t mean that we can remediate every difficulty that comes up, but we are aware of any difficulties in fairly short order.

We have an ongoing dialog about the quality of our teaching. That dialog is spread throughout the faculty through the programmatic learning groups. It is not just the personnel committee that is concerned.

We have a great number of experienced faculty members at our school. The mentoring program allows us to actively engage our most gifted teachers in the sharing of wisdom with colleagues who are newer to teaching.

The presence of a pedagogical chair in the school allows the separation of mentoring and evaluation to be kept intact. It allows the school to take action while maintaining the integrity of the mentoring relationship.

MEN 4-8

If there were something you could change with regard to the overlap between mentoring and evaluation, what would it be and why?
Integrating new special subject teachers such as those for Spanish, German, and instrumental music calls for more support and attention. We do not have a large number of these teachers in our school, so finding experienced and appropriate mentors can be a challenge.

Our ability to evaluate a teacher’s work with parents and with her colleagues can still be improved and we continue to work to improve our process here.


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