Effective Mentoring, VIT

I attended a VIT refresher course on Thursday the 5th of March 2020, led by Catharine Hydon and Matt Woodley from the VIT. My main take-away was how important it is to have a clearly defined induction and mentorship program with well trained and committed mentors. At my school, we have a lot of good people and great intentions, but we have some way to go towards properly formalising our processes.

What is mentoring?

  • Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be. (Eric Parsloe, The Oxford School of Coaching & Mentoring)
  • As a process, mentoring may be generally described as a dynamic interpersonal relationship involving two or more people. Mentoring in early childhood is often perceived as “a peer relationship” (Nolan, 2007, xvii), where a more experienced practitioner provides professional guidance to one or more novice practitioners, either on a 1:1 basis or as a group. (Wong and Waniganayake 2013) 
  • Need to have a written down protocol or policy to support VIT teachers.

What mentoring isn’t

  • Performance management
  • Training
  • Peer friendship and support
  • Counselling
  • Rescuing

What good mentors do?

The good mentor is:

  • committed to the role of mentoring.
  • accepting of the beginning teacher.
  • skilled at providing instructional support.
  • effective in different interpersonal contexts.
  • a model of a continuous learner.
  • The good mentor communicates hope and optimism. a
  • My notes here

Mentoring tools and training

1. First, good programs require formal mentor training as a prerequisite to mentoring. Veteran teachers unwilling to participate in a quality training program are often indicating their lack of dedication to the role.

2. Second, because it is unreasonable to expect a teacher to commit to a role that has not been clearly defined, the best mentoring programs provide specific descriptions of the roles and responsibilities of mentor teachers.

3. Third, good mentoring programs require mentors to maintain simple logs or journals that document conferences and other professional development activities involving the mentor and mentee. But such record-keeping devices should keep paperwork to a minimum and protect the confidentiality of the mentor-mentee relationship.

GROWS model: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/coaching-questions-for-managers-2275913

Great free Mentor Modules: https://mentormodules.com/course/mentoring-school-leaders/ . They also use the the GROWS model: GROWS – Goals, Reality, Options, Way Forward, Summary

The Effective Mentoring Framework: https://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/school/teachers/profdev/mentoringcapabilityframework.pdf 

Domain 1 – Teaching and Learning
Domain 2 – Professional Identity
Domain 3 – Communication and Interpersonal Skills
Domain 4 – Collaborative Partnerships
Domain 5 – Professional Generosity and Empathy
Domain 6 – Professional Culture and Context

Video: Using coaching language: https://vimeo.com/43831241

Did you know: VIT is not part of the department of education. VIT reports directly to the Minister. It’s only a small team, certainly not over-staffed for the job they have to do!

Benefits of mentoring / mentee:

Benefits for the PRT

  • Beneficial changes to teaching 83%
  • Changed aspects of classroom practice for the better 84%
  • Allowed me to see what good professional practice looks like 87%
  • Likely to stay in teaching 72.25

Benefits for the Mentor

  • Culture of skill and knowledge transfer 71%
  • More motivated as a teacher 76%
  • Advocate for professional mentoring practice at school 76%

Audit is more about the school than about the PRT.

1.4 and 2.4 are the standards which are generally not well done.

Professional conversations for VIT registation

PRT must log three of them for three observations.

Must also have professional conversations about:

  • Child safety, Legal obligations, Appropriate relationships and professional boundaries
  • Two discussions about the Inquiry.
  • Three times they must be observed while teaching their inquiry.
  • Once they will observe someone else., must be documented.

The PRT must write a report about this.

2019 audit data – most common reasons for not meeting requirements for full registration:

  • child safety and welfare report with two examples of how they have implemented their obligations
  • professional boundaries report
  • 3 mentor visits and 3 professional conversations.

Standards that are most problematic for not meeting requirements for full registration:

  • 1.4. Strategies for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Learners
  • 1.6. Strategies to support full participation for learners with a disability
  • 2.4. Understand and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to promote
  • Reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians

PRTs can be audited for up to two years after the panel.

The notion of adaptive expertise and the importance of professional conversations:  Professional conversations: Adaptive expertise, Helen Timperley, Professor of Education, University of Auckland.

Increasingly the literature’s sort of distinguishing between routine expertise and adaptive expertise. Routine expertise is great for stable environments where we can perfect our skills and our knowledge, but unfortunately, schools aren’t like that anymore. Students are changing, knowledge is changing. And so, this idea of adaptive expertise is really gaining currency.

Essentially, it’s about having that moral imperative of students at the heart of everything we do, and looking closely at are we optimising the outcomes for them in the ways that we need to. And a key part of adaptive expertise is about taking agency for making a difference. So it’s not that your practice is no good or you can’t improve, but it’s about thinking about the students and “how can I really reach those most difficult-to-reach students and teach them better,” and then you can teach everyone better.

And the third aspect of adaptive expertise that I really emphasise is the self-awareness that sometimes something you do may not be as effective as it could be, and that you’re constantly questioning whether this is the most effective way of doing something for those students. So it’s related to metacognition, self-regulated learning, that again, for students and for teachers, we know is becoming more and more important

The professional conversation’s absolutely crucial to it. We learn socially, we learn from one another. So when I say they’ve got agency for making a difference for those students, it has to be a collective agency. And you can’t get a collective agency without having professional conversations. Conversations are like the oil that kind of seeps through everything we do. So they’re informal, they’re formal, but they are the way that we communicate and learn from one another, and they’re absolutely essential to developing adaptive expertise.

Developing the Inquiry question for VIT registration

Try to be more specific than “How do I differentiate for my students”. They should narrow the thinking down. Make is achievable and realistic in 4 weeks. Make it a measurable change.

Questions to guide the thinking:

  • What are my learner’s needs (based on data and context)?
  • How do I know?
  • How does this fit with the content of my teaching program?
  • Why is this important for my learners?
  • Is there a school / centre focus for learning?


My research and things to read: https://www.one-tab.com/page/oSZHtkcESXuYdO-vzsGtPQ

  1. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may99/vol56/num08/The-Good-Mentor.aspx  (back)