Characteristics of a Mentor Teacher
To ensure that mentors can support Residents’ deliberate learning and their development in the profession of teaching, potential mentor teachers are first recommended by a principal or instructional coach. Principals and instructional coaches are asked to recommend potential mentors who would be able to fulfill the roles and responsibilities outlined in the ATR Mentor Memorandum of Understanding. For example, potential ATR Mentors need to not only demonstrate a high level of effectiveness with students, but also need to be able to collaborate cogently with Aspire colleagues.
Potential mentor teachers must also rated to be highly effective or master in their teacher effectiveness data. Aspire’s Teacher Effectiveness Data combines observations with individual student growth percentile ratings, a school’s student growth percentile rankings, as well as surveys from students, families, and peers. Additionally, potential mentor teachers need to fall in the 90th percentile on surveys filled out by colleagues about their Aspire values since residents are situated in the larger work of Aspire Public Schools, and as such have an emphasis on Aspire-wide themes and goals.
Teachers who have previously mentored with ATR are evaluated to determine whether or not they are eligible to continue working with ATR. Eligibility is revisited on a yearly basis.
Mentor Teacher Training & Support
Over the course of the year, mentors attend at least 9 Mentor Seminars. Mentor Seminars are day-long professional development sessions exclusively for mentors that are focused on developing the diverse coaching and teaching skills of our highly talented mentor team. Mentors will work with Elena Aguilar’s The Art of Coaching and Paul Bambrick Santoyo’s Leverage Leadership to grow as mentors and as teachers. Additionally, mentors will participate in small Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) centered around areas in which they want to grow as teachers.
Mentor Seminars are situated in the larger work of Aspire Public Schools, and as such have an emphasis on Aspire-wide themes and goals including equity and Aspire’s Core Values. The goals for both Resident and Mentor Seminar are situated in a framework of head, heart, and hands, as described below.
In addition to Mentor Seminars, mentors are supported and coached at their school sites by the Aspire Teacher Residency Director in their work as mentors. These one on one coaching sessions run in the mentor’s classroom and occur bi-weekly. Before the school site visit, the Regional Director, mentor, and resident communicate to agree on an instructional focus based on seminar content and individual needs. The resident emails a written lesson plan to director/mentor a day ahead of time. During the visit, the following occurs to support the mentor in their work with the resident:
After each visit, the Aspire Teacher Residency Director sends a follow up email to the resident, mentor, and principal with the agreed upon action step as well as a link to the video. Finally, the Aspire Teacher Residency Director will compile and analyze data from all residents/mentors and use it to guide instruction during seminars.
For new mentors, a special New Mentor Bootcamp is held. At this special day-long professional development session, new mentors learn about the foundational elements of mentoring such as co-teaching models, feedback cycles, as well as how to build a collaborative relationship with their residents.
In addition to Mentor Seminars and bi-weekly site visits, during the beginning of the school year each Mentor will have the opportunity to set a professional development goal for the year. Aspire Teacher Residency Directors and Mentor Buddies will hold each other accountable for the professional development goal. Time at Mentor Seminars is set aside to revisit and revise goals.
Mentors are also given a professional development budget which they can use to grow as practitioners by attending a conference, purchasing classroom materials, etc.