The Art of Mentoring

Issue 9, January/February 2015

Dear reader,  

 Welcome to the January/February issue of our newsletter focusing on The Art of Mentoring, based on our own mentoring experiences and the experiences and insights of 40 experienced teachers throughout the NW who participated in our 2  three-year mentoring seminars, and from research into mentoring in education, business and with youth. This newsletter, along with the articles from last month and the resources in our library, provide most everything one could need to create and sustain a  healthy mentoring program.  We chose snowflakes as our images for this month because like the mentoring relationship, each one is beautiful and unique, has its own pattern and is a reflection of cosmic forces at work.

We hope you enjoy these articles and the related resources.

The LeadTogether community is still growing and we appreciate your participation. Please contact us if you have any questions or ideas that you would like to share or explore.

In service,

 Michael Soule


Mentoring: Key Aspects for a Successful School Mentoring Program

The Art of Being A Mentor by Michael Soule


A good mentor is one who can help his/her advisee develop as a teacher and to find his/her way to manage and master the tasks of teaching, including working with the students, parents, curriculum and school. Because all development is self-development, a successful mentor also needs to help his/her advisee develop the capacity for self-reflection and self-discipline. To do this, a mentor must continually work on his/her own self-reflection and self-discipline, while continuing to practice the art of turning experience into wisdom. Finally, a mentor has the opportunity to learn and grow through the mentoring relationship. 

 The three essential tasks and tools of the mentor are observation, contemplation and conversation.


Mentoring an Untrained Teacher

From Observation to Conversation by Holly Koteen Soule from the NW Mentoring Seminar

These notes are the result of discussions among colleagues in the mentoring seminar held by Sound Circle Center in 2011. We explored three steps in the mentoring process – the observation, the inner work of the mentor in processing the observation, and the conversation between the advisee and mentor.


• Acknowledge the inevitable separation between the observer and observed.

• Let go of personal agendas and fixed ideas, look with fresh eyes.

Between Observation and Conversation: CONTEMPLATION

• Reciprocity is powerful, and has spiritual activity in it – try to see things forward and backwards

• Try on the habits of the teacher (i.e. speaking and walking).


• Build a safe space and trust between mentor and advisee (withhold judgment, don’t be in a hurry, really make it a genuine conversation and partnership, not a view from outside).

• Use questions.  Listen attentively.


Seeing Nature Whole — A Goethean Approach

An article and resources from Craig Holdrege and The Nature Institute

If we want to attain a living understanding of nature, we must become as flexible and mobile as nature herself. - Goethe

Many of us were introduced to biology — the science of life — by dissecting frogs, and we never learned anything about living frogs in nature. Modern biology has increasingly moved out of nature and into the laboratory, driven by a desire to find an underlying mechanistic basis of life. Despite all its success, this approach is one-sided and urgently calls for a counterbalancing movement toward nature. Only if we find ways of transforming our propensity to reduce the world to parts and mechanisms, will we be able to see, value, and protect the integrity of nature and the interconnectedness of all things. This demands a new way of seeing.


School Mentoring Program Assessment Form, Sound Circle Mentoring Seminar 2008

5 Strategies for Successful Mentoring from Working Wisdom annotated by Michael Soule

In the book, Working Wisdom, Robert Aubrey outlines five key aspects of the work of mentors. We have borrowed Aubrey’s strategies and annotated them for relevance in mentoring teachers.


            The basis of good mentoring is the commitment of the mentor to be aware of and support the teacher on their path of development. This goes beyond offering advice, suggestions or asking good questions. 


            The mentor by nature of his/her experience, training and selection as a mentor will be aware of deeper aspects of the teaching situation than the teacher. It is important for the mentor to observe the teacher and the class in a way to see the archetypes of what is happening. 


            While the use of questions is generally the best strategy for a mentor, there are important times when a more direct approach can be helpful.  The direct approach is always a more risky path because the resulting reaction of the teacher cannot be programmed. 


            While the conversation between mentor and teacher is the heart of the mentoring relationship, there are times when it is advantageous for the mentor to demonstrate what they see as happening.  


            As has been outlined in other posts and articles, an essential key to mentoring is the work that the mentor does to gain a deep insight into the style, nature and skills of the teacher. Read more... 


More Mentoring Resources

More Mentoring Resources 2

There are a lot of resources in the business and education world relating to mentoring. We have tried to capture most of the core principles int eh articles in this and the last newsletter. Along with the three pieces below, check out the 26 resources in our resource library.

“Light in the Soul”

from More Precious Than Light by Margreet Van Den Brink

In this chapter of her book on social encounter and conversation, Margreet explores the relationship between conscious conversation and the development of the three aspects of the soul outlined by Rudolf Steiner. For anyone interested in the more esoteric nature of conversation and the soul, this short piece is illuminating. Read more...

 “The Art of Fruitful Conversation”

from Mentoring in Early Childhood Education by Carol Nasr Griset and Kim Raymond

Creating a space for honest listening, speaking and building relationship in a mentoring situation are at the heart of this chapter from WECAN's book Mentoring in Early Childhood Education. It also explores practical aspects of the mentoring relationship and the essential work of the mentor. Read more...

“Mentoring vs. Coaching”

from Management Mentoring Inc.

This article explores 25 ways that coaching and mentoring are different. It helps clarify the distinction that one can coach another to help them achieve a goal while a mentor works to help the person grow and develop in their life. Read more...