The Six Basic Exercises for Esoteric Development by Rudolf Steiner


The Six Exercises for Basic Esoteric Development of Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner gave six exercises which are fundamental to his meditative work.

No. 1 - The Control of Thought
The first exercise has to do with the control of thinking. It is designed to keep our minds from wandering, to focus them, in order to strengthen our meditative work. There are several versions of this exercise. Here is one version:
Select a simple object - a pin, a button, a pencil. Try to think about it exclusively for five minutes. You may think about the way the object is manufactured, how it is used, what its history is. Try to be logical and realistic in your thinking. This exercise is best if practiced faithfully every day. You may use the same object every day or a new object each day, as you choose.

No. 2 - The Control of Will
Choose a simple action to perform each day at a time you select. It should be something you do not ordinarily do; it can even be a little odd. Then make it a duty to perform this action at that time each day. Rudolf Steiner gives the example of watering a flower each day at a certain time. As you progress, additional tasks can be added at other times.
This exercise is as hard as it is simple and takes a very strong intention to complete. To start you might think of it as you think of a dentist's appointment - you do not want to be late. It can be helpful to mark your success or failure on the calendar each day. If you completely forget at the time, but remember later, do it then and try to do better the next day.

No. 3 - Equanimity
The third exercise is the development of balance between joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, the heights of pleasure and the depths of despair. Strive for a balanced mood. An attempt should be made not to become immoderately angry or annoyed, not to become anxious or fearful, not to become disconcerted, nor to be overcome by joy or sorrow. Rather should your natural feelings be permitted to be quietly felt. Try to maintain your composure. This leads to an inner tranquillity and purer feelings of the soul.

No. 4
This exercise is the development of a positive attitude to life. Attempt to seek for the good, praiseworthy, and beautiful in all beings, all experiences and all things. Soon you will begin to notice the hidden good and beautiful that lies concealed in all things. This is connected with learning not to criticize everything. You can ask how something came to be or to act the way it is. One way to overcome the tendency to criticize is to learn to 'characterize' instead.

No. 5
For this exercise, make the effort to confront every new experience with complete open-mindedness. The habit of saying, "I never heard that" or "I never saw that before" should be overcome. The possibility of something completely new coming into the world must be left open, even if it contradicts allyour previous knowledge and experience.

No. 6
If you have been trying the earlier exercises of thinking, will, equilibrium, positivity and tolerance, you are now ready to try them together two or three at a time, in varying combinations until they become natural and harmonious.

For more information see Guidance in Esoteric Training, by Rudolf Steiner:

 

Transitions Handbook for New Teachers, short form, Teacher Education Network, AWSNA

Navigating the Transition:
A Guide for Welcoming New Teachers Supporting Your New Teacher
AWSNA

(click here for a pdf version)

Table of Contents

A. Introduction

B. About your new teacher – their background and experience

C. Supporting your new teacher – things beyond mentoring

D. Mentoring your new teacher – ideas and guidelines

Introduction

The Teacher Education Committee of AWSNA has been charged by the delegates to AWSNA to promote and support new teacher development and retention. Experience throughout the movement has shown that teachers need support in the process of developing from newly trained, but inexperienced teachers, into strong and capable classroom teachers. Without support, some excellent candidates are not able to successfully make the transition. This experience is difficult and costly for all involved, from the individual teacher, to the children, to the school, to the Waldorf movement as a whole. As a response to this felt need in the association the Teacher Education Committee has developed this resource book to support you in the healthy and supportive welcoming of newly trained teachers into your school.

We hope that these guidelines and suggestions will promote conversation and eventually policies and procedures in your school around the support of new teachers.

The Teacher Education Committee of AWSNA

John Broussard – Teacher Education Institute of Southern California
Betty Staley – Rudolf Steiner College
Cat Greenstreet – Sunbridge College
Diana Hughes – Teacher Development Institute
Douglas Gerwin – Center for Anthroposophy and Antioch Waldorf Teacher Training
Program

About Your New Teacher

The exact course of study that each newly certified teacher has studied depends on the educational institution that they attended. As you prepare to support your new teacher it is important that you are aware of the various elements of the program in which they participated. Each of the teacher education institutes in the country maintain web sites which are ideal ways to explore the training and preparation that your new teacher has received.

As part of their teacher education program your new teacher completed a teaching practicum. The actual experience differs from one teacher education institute to another, but all include observation, assisting, and independent classroom teaching. Ideally the teaching practicum includes significant actual classroom teaching practice under the supervision of an experienced teacher. However, depending on the hosting teacher and school, individual newly trained teachers will have varying amounts of classroom experience and practice. It is important that you review your new teacher’s experiences with them to prepare them for success in your school.

Supporting Your New Teacher

Orientation to your school:

One of the common difficulties for new teachers is that they find that they are expected to pick up the routines and practices of their new school through experience rather than a formal orientation process. This means that for the first few weeks, and even months, of the school year each day is less predictable and more challenging than necessary. This is especially true for subject or part-time teachers who are often not present at daily morning verses or check-ins.

A thorough orientation to the practices, traditions and expectations of your school will help to make a new teacher feel more at home, more confident, and more a full member of the school’s faculty sooner. The orientation should take place before the August faculty work week or period. Leaving the discussion until later in the fall means that the teacher is working to find his or her way through the confusion of unmentioned routines and school wide expectations. An orientation is best supported by an employee manual, which will allow the new teacher to refer back to topics covered in the orientation.

The orientation can be carried out in a wide variety of ways: if your school has a number of new teachers, dedicating one day to orienting the group can be a good way to quickly move through the necessary material. On the other hand, an orientation of an individual teacher can be done by either a teacher’s mentor or a member of administration, or both. It is a good idea for each school to develop a list of topics for orientation that can be used for each process, as this will help to reduce inconsistency between orientations.

Support in the Summer Before Teaching:

During the summer months your newly hired teacher will be making a number of important personal and professional transitions. The following things should be kept in mind as you support these moves:
a. Practical details related to moving and settling into a new community.
b. Summer professional development expectations and financial support possibilities.
c. Beginning mentoring support around room preparation, curriculum development, introduction to class parents, and home visits.
d. Faculty work week expectations and arrangements
e. Opening day ceremonies and activities

Supporting a New Teacher with His or Her Class Parents

The very nature of a teacher education institution means that the area that it is hardest to prepare teacher education students for, besides classroom discipline, is their work with class parents. At the institutions there are no parents to practice with, and as each class has its own nature and personality, it is hard to provide anything beyond guidelines for parent work. This having been said, much is accomplished in the programs in cultivating right listening and right speech practice, consensus decision-making, and appreciating multiple points of view. Participants are also given an understanding of the parent perspective and point-of-view.

However, the teacher’s relationship with the class parents is a central part of their success or failure as a class teacher. Therefore, it is essential that each new class teacher be consciously mentored and supported in this particular area of responsibility. The following are some suggestions to help with this support:

Collegial Expectations of a New Teacher

It is important that newly hired teachers have a clear sense of the expectations upon them in the following areas: Work on committees and work groups within the faculty; work on community wide committees and work groups; practices for interaction and cooperation with subject teachers; faculty meeting expectations; other faculty commitments.

Continuing Education for a New Teacher

Continued professional development is an essential part of every teacher’s development, whether newly educated and hired, or a long-term successful teacher. Professional development opportunities can be varied and range from curriculum development work to personal refreshment and renewal. The following kinds of professional development opportunities should be offered to all new teachers: Conference attendance and participation; ongoing summer workshops; local, non-Waldorf opportunities

Ideally, through the mentoring process each teacher will have a personal professional development plan. This plan is particularly important for new teachers as it will form the structure for their continued education and growth during the very important first three or four years of their life as Waldorf teachers.

Mentoring Your New Teacher

The mentoring of a new teacher is essential in supporting a newly trained teacher in the process of moving from being a teacher education institute graduate to a successful and happy teacher. Every new teacher needs to receive strong and attentive mentoring. The following guidelines are designed to help each school shape its own individual mentoring program for new teachers.

Goals of Mentoring:
Mentoring is designed to help support the following:

1. Deepening insights into Waldorf pedagogy, festivals, and grade level curriculum.
2. Supporting the development of effective relationships with the children, including order and discipline.
3. Creating healthy social dynamics within the class.
4. Applying age appropriate curriculum methods to support healthy child development.
5. Collegial relationships.
6. Better communication and partnering with parents.
7. Personal well being and balance in relation to teaching.

Choosing a Mentor:
A mentor should have most or all of the following characteristics:

a. Experienced, trained Waldorf Teacher, ideally having completed
an eight-year cycle, but if not well grounded in the year the new teacher will be teaching.
b. Familiar with the school – able to convey all necessary information and
support in school wide areas such as expectations, policies and procedures.
c. Available for meetings and consultations – open and generous with his
or her time and attention. Teachers who are already carrying large parts of school administration or in challenging years and situations themselves do not make good mentors.
d. Strong communicators with a history of good parent and colleague
relationships.
e. Confident about classroom practices and about giving advice and
guidance to the young teacher.
f. Able to work well with the individual teacher being mentored – this is a
matter of temperament and approach and needs to be considered for each pairing.
g. Knows how to ask questions and see that there are many approaches to
teaching, not just his or her own.

Sometimes it is impossible to find all these characteristics in one mentor and
in that situation some schools have two people working with one teacher – an outside person doing classroom observation visits and an in-house teacher doing weekly meetings with the new teacher. In this situation, it is still essential that both mentors make early and frequent visits to the classroom.

A Mentoring Schedule:

Mentoring should include classroom visits and observation and weekly meetings for planning, consulting and addressing issues.

Schedule for classroom visits and observation:

In the first year a new teacher should have at least a three day classroom
visit and observation within the first two weeks of the school year, followed by a two to three day visit around the winter break (December through February) and a final two day visit in the spring. It is essential that each visit be longer than a single day as the teacher’s work with the rhythm of the days is a critical part of the observation. This is the time habits are built for better or worse.

In coming years a two-day visit, once or preferably twice, during the school year is usually sufficient as long as there are no significant concerns about the teacher’s classroom performance.

Scheduling these visits can be challenging. Some schools arrange it so
that on a particular day subject teachers teach the main lesson in the mentor’s class to allow the mentor to observe the new teacher’s main lesson. In other schools the main lesson and the first two subject lessons are exchanged in the day occasionally, so the children start with the subject lessons and the mentor teaches his or her main lesson later in the day, after observing the new teacher. Other schools, especially when the upper-grade teachers have heavy mentoring loads, set a permanent schedule for the upper grades which starts the day with subject lessons, one or more days a week, allowing the main lesson teacher to observe regularly in lower grade classrooms. Finally, some other schools have a ninth main lesson teacher or permanent substitute who regularly steps in to allow the mentor time to observe in the new teacher’s classroom or does much of the mentoring.

Schedule for mentoring meetings:

Each teacher should have a weekly mentoring meeting of at least one
subject class period in length. For new teachers, especially those with lower grades, it is often best to schedule this meeting for the end or after the school day, as they are with their classes for more subject periods than higher grade teachers.

In some situations some of these meetings can be held by telephone, but
ideally the meeting is direct and long enough for issues to surface. It is also important that the mentor ensure that the meeting is directed to mentoring and not to personal conversation, even when supportive.

Resolving Problems with Mentoring:

Each school needs to have a policy and procedure for resolving concerns and
problems with mentoring, making clear who is responsible for overseeing
mentoring throughout the school, and making sure it is happening effectively and
regularly.

Transitions Handbook for New Teachers, Teacher Education Network, AWSNA

Navigating the Transition: A Handbook for Welcoming New Teachers
(click here for a pdf version) A Handbook for Schools Welcoming a New Teacher from A Teacher Education Institute

AWSNA
Table of Contents
A. Introduction

B. The Teacher Education Program – What your new teacher has studied

C. The Teacher Education Program – Teaching Practicum

D. Orienting a new teacher to your school policies and practices

E. Supporting a new teacher in the summer before they take up a class

F. Mentoring a new teacher

G. Supporting a new teacher with his or her class parents

H. Collegial expectations of a new teacher

I. Evaluating a new teacher

J. Continuing Education for a new teacher

K. Individual suggestions for your new teacher

Introduction

The Teacher Education Committee of AWSNA has been charged by the delegates to AWSNA to promote and support new teacher development and retention. Experience throughout the movement has shown that teachers need support in the process of developing from newly trained, but inexperienced teachers, into strong and capable classroom teachers. Without support, some excellent candidates are not able to successfully make the transition. This experience is difficult and costly for all involved, from the individual teacher, to the children, to the school, to the Waldorf movement as a whole. As a response to this felt need in the association the Teacher Education Committee has developed this resource book to support you in the healthy and supportive welcoming of newly trained teachers into your school.

We hope that these guidelines and suggestions will promote conversation and eventually policies and procedures in your school around the support of new teachers.

The Teacher Education Committee of AWSNA

John Broussard – Teacher Education Institute of Southern California
Betty Staley – Rudolf Steiner College
Cat Greenstreet – Sunbridge College
Diana Hughes – Teacher Development Institute
Douglas Gerwin – Center for Anthroposophy and Antioch Waldorf Teacher Training Program

The Teacher Education Program :

What Your New Teacher has Studied in the Classroom

The exact course of study that each newly certified teacher has studied depends on the educational institution that they attended. As you prepare to support your new teacher it is important that you are aware of the various elements of the program in which they participated. We recommend that you talk with your new teacher to understand the elements of his or her program

The Teacher Education Program – Teaching Practicum

As part of their teacher education program your new teacher completed a teaching practicum.

Ideally the teaching practicum includes significant actual classroom teaching practice under the supervision of an experienced teacher. However, depending on the hosting teacher and school, individual newly trained teachers will have varying amounts of classroom experience and practice. It is important that you review the individual information at the end of this document, and, if you haven’t already, discuss the teaching practice experience with your new teacher. This will allow you to more successfully support your new teacher.

Orienting a New Teacher to your School Policies and Practices

One of the common difficulties for new teachers is that they find that they are expected to pick up the routines and practices of their new school through experience rather than a formal orientation process. This means that for the first few weeks, and even months, of the school year each day is less predictable and more challenging than necessary. This is especially true for subject or part-time teachers who are often not present at daily morning verses or check-ins.

A thorough orientation to the practices, traditions and expectations of your school will help to make a new teacher feel more at home, more confident, and more a full member of the school’s faculty sooner. The orientation should take place before the August faculty work week or period. Leaving the discussion until later in the fall means that the teacher is working to find his or her way through the confusion of unmentioned routines and school wide expectations. An orientation is best supported by an employee manual, which will allow the new teacher to refer back to topics covered in the orientation.

The orientation can be carried out in a wide variety of ways: if your school has a number of new teachers, dedicating one day to orienting the group can be a good way to quickly move through the necessary material. On the other hand, an orientation of an individual teacher can be done by either a teacher’s mentor or a member of administration, or both. It is a good idea for each school to develop a list of topics for orientation that can be used for each process, as this will help to reduce inconsistency between orientations.

The following is a suggested listing of necessary topics for a full orientation.

General School Items:

Faculty listing, roles and contact information; school calendar and expectations for faculty; school mission and vision statements; organization and governance of the school; board member listing and roles; school conflict resolution process; emergency procedures: fire, tornado, serious accident; school wide festivals and celebrations.

Class Related Items:

Supply budgets; classroom furnishings and materials; classroom set-up
and preparation –especially for first grade; classroom cleaning and maintenance; parent meetings – form, scheduling and approach; home visits; parent/teacher conferences – scheduling expectations; reports – form, length, dates due; extra lesson and support services for students; discipline policy; classroom centered festivals and celebrations; field-trips and overnight activities

Colleague Related Items:

Committees and faculty responsibilities; playground duty and other coverage expectations; faculty morning gatherings; faculty governance and faculty meetings; college governance, including membership criteria, and college meetings.

Mentoring and Evaluation

Mentoring policies and process; evaluation policies and process.

Personnel Related Items:

School policies for faculty; equal employment policy; sexual harassment policy; complaint procedures; dress code; smoking, alcohol and drug policies; confidentiality procedures and expectations; benefits information - medical, dental, disability; tuition remission; extended care fees/no fees for faculty and staff; schedule of pay-days; reimbursement process; substitution procedures and availability; sick time, personal days, holidays

Practical Information:

Computer use; copiers, phones, fax machines etc.; parking; building access outside of regular hours; office procedures and mail

Administration:

Organizational structure; leadership practices; mentoring and evaluation; administrative staff; job descriptions; Board of Trustees

Supporting a New Teacher in the Summer before They Start Teaching

During the summer months your newly hired teacher will be making a number of important personal and professional transitions. The following things should be kept in mind as you support these moves.

1. Practical details: Any assistance offered by the school related to moving and relocation expenses should be outlined in a clear letter to the teacher. In addition, support with community information and suggestions for affordable housing and other settling in help can be very useful.

2. Summer Professional Development: Despite having just finished a teacher education program, many new teachers would benefit from attending an intensive focus week on the grade that they will be taking up in the fall. Ideally, there will be professional development money available to the teacher to support this continued professional development.

3. Mentoring support: During the summer months a new teacher needs mentoring support – first by phone and then, once he or she arrives in the community, in person. It is essential that the person chosen to mentor the teacher through the summer be highly available, and it can be the case that the summer mentor is not the same person as the first year mentor. Mentoring support must include the following:

i. Room preparation support. New teachers need support in the process of setting up their classroom, especially if your school has certain traditions around preparing the rooms.
ii. Curriculum development support. As the new teacher plans the first few blocks of the year, he or she will need mentoring support and review.
iii. Introduction to class parents. If the newly hired teacher was unable to meet with class parents in the spring, or if that meeting was quick and informal, a summer parent meeting or class picnic can be a great way to start the relationship in a warm and healthy way. An experienced class teacher should invite the parents, acting as host to the whole group and ensuring that the event is well planned and moves smoothly.
iv. Home visits. Many new teachers make home visits to each family with a child in their class during the summer months. This is an important way to build connection but can also be difficult as the newly hired teacher will be unfamiliar with the community and the families. If home visits are expected, the new teacher should be supported in arranging them, and in carrying them out. It is most important that the teacher have a clear idea of how home visits have been done in the school in the past as parents may hold expectations about the visit that the new teacher will be unaware of.

4. Faculty Work Week. Each school has its own expectations and practices around the meetings that the faculty holds in the last few weeks before the children return. Your new teacher needs to be supported in attending these meetings in an appropriate way. It is very important that he or she be prepared for the schedule, expectations in terms of attendance, and their level of involvement. These meetings are usually a newly hired teacher’s first collegial work and can set the tone for the coming relationships.

5. Opening day ceremonies. The first day of school is usually one that includes some traditional ceremonies particular to the individual school. New teachers, especially first grade teachers, often have a significant role to play in these ceremonies. For instance, many schools have a rose ceremony for first graders through which the new first grade teacher guides the children, sometimes even telling a story to the whole school and parents. It is essential that the new teacher have a full understanding of her role in the day’s events as early as possible. Imagine the difficulty created for a nervous new teacher who discovers only a day or two ahead that he is expected to tell a story to the entire community. This type of surprise makes an already difficult first week much harder. The individual responsible for the opening day events, and/or the new teacher’s mentor, should thoroughly brief the new teacher at least two weeks before the first day of school.

Mentoring a New Teacher

The mentoring of a new teacher is essential in supporting a newly trained teacher in the process of moving from being a teacher education institute graduate to a successful and happy teacher. Every new teacher needs to receive strong and attentive mentoring. The following guidelines are designed to help each school shape its own individual mentoring program for new teachers.

Goals of Mentoring:
Mentoring is designed to help support the following:

1. Deepen insights into Waldorf pedagogy, festivals, and grade level curriculum.
2. Support the development of effective relationships with the children, including order and discipline.
3. Create healthy social dynamics within the class.
4. Apply age appropriate curriculum methods to support healthy child development.
5. Foster collegial relationships.
6. Facilitate better communication and partnering with parents.
7. Promote personal well being and balance in relation to teaching.

Choosing a Mentor:
A mentor should have most or all of the following characteristics:

a. Experienced, trained Waldorf Teacher, ideally having completed
an eight-year cycle, but at least well grounded in the year the new teacher will be teaching.
b. Familiar with the school – able to convey all necessary information and
support in school wide areas such as expectations, policies and procedures.
c. Available for meetings and consultations – open and generous with his
or her time and attention. Teachers who are already carrying large parts of school administration or in challenging years and situations themselves do not often make good mentors.
d. Strong communicators with a history of good parent and colleague
relationships.
e. Confident about classroom practices and about giving advice and
guidance to the young teacher.
f. Able to work well with the individual teacher being mentored – this is a
matter of temperament and approach and needs to be considered for each pairing.
g. Knows how to ask questions and see that there are many approaches to
teaching, not just his or her own.

Sometimes it is impossible to find all these characteristics in one mentor and
in that situation some schools have two people working with one teacher – an outside person doing classroom observation visits and an in-house teacher doing weekly meetings with the new teacher. In this situation, it is still essential that both mentors make early and frequent visits to the classroom.

A Mentoring Schedule:

Mentoring should include classroom visits and observation and weekly meetings for planning, consulting and addressing issues.

Schedule for classroom visits and observation:

In the first year a new teacher should have at least a three-day classroom
visit and observation within the first two weeks of the school year, followed by a two-to-three day visit around the winter break (December through February) and a final two-day visit in the spring. It is essential that each visit be longer than a single day since the teacher’s work with the rhythm of the days is a critical part of the observation. This is the time habits are built for better or worse.

In coming years a two-day visit, once or preferably twice, during the school year is usually sufficient as long as there are no significant concerns about the teacher’s classroom performance.

Scheduling these visits can be challenging. Some schools arrange it so
that on a particular day subject teachers teach the main lesson in the mentor’s class to allow the mentor to observe the new teacher’s main lesson. In other schools the main lesson and the first two subject lessons are exchanged in the day occasionally, so the children start with the subject lessons and the mentor teaches his or her main lesson later in the day, after observing the new teacher. Other schools, especially when the upper-grade teachers have heavy mentoring loads, set a permanent schedule for the upper grades which starts the day with subject lessons, one or more days a week, allowing the main lesson teacher to observe regularly in lower grade classrooms. Finally, some other schools have a ninth main lesson teacher or permanent substitute who regularly steps in to allow the mentor time to observe in the new teacher’s classroom or does much of the mentoring.

Schedule for mentoring meetings:

Each teacher should have a weekly mentoring meeting of at least one
subject class period in length. For new teachers, especially those with lower grades, it is often best to schedule this meeting for the end or after the school day, as they are with their classes for more subject periods than higher grade teachers.

In some situations some of these meetings can be held by telephone, but
ideally the meeting is direct and long enough for issues to surface. It is also important that the mentor ensure that the meeting is directed to mentoring and not to personal conversation, even when supportive.

Topics for Mentoring:

The following are suggestions for what mentoring conversations should include:

1. Focus on a small number of central areas that the new teacher has identified as needing improvement and/or development.
2. Overview of the year’s curriculum, including goal-setting as well as the why for each subject. Review available resource materials. Discuss general organization of the year.
3. Review block schedule for the year.
4. Review the block plan a good two weeks before each block begins, including resources for songs, flute or recorder pieces, poems and verses, and movement.
5. Regularly review circle or opening exercises, rhythm of the main lesson, transitions, and discipline.
6. Advise on report writing; share copies of other reports for that grade in our school; preview and review reports.
7. Discuss and advise on particular children. This would include observing that child during recess, etc. Review assessments, past reports, etc.
8. Preview parent/teacher conferences, format, children with difficulties, etc. Review after conferences.
9. Review content of parent evenings. Plan to visit a parent evening in the fall and follow up in the spring if necessary.
10. Be available to review correspondence that goes out to parents.
11. Review the yearly festivals and events; help to gather resources. Inform the teacher of how things have been done at this school. Discuss any changes before they are implemented.

Resolving Problems with Mentoring:

Each school needs to have a policy and procedure for resolving concerns and
problems with mentoring, making clear who is responsible for overseeing
mentoring throughout the school, and ensuring it is happening regularly.

Supporting a New Teacher with His or Her Class Parents

The very nature of a teacher education institution means that the area that it is hardest to prepare teacher education students for, besides classroom discipline, is his or her work with class parents. At the institutions there are no parents to practice with, and as each class has its own nature and personality, it is hard to provide anything beyond guidelines for parent work. This having been said, much is accomplished in the programs in cultivating right listening and right speech practice, consensus decision-making, and appreciating multiple points of view. Participants are also given an understanding of the parent perspective and point-of-view.

However, the teacher’s relationship with the class parents is a central part of their success or failure as a class teacher. Therefore, it is essential that each new class teacher be consciously mentored and supported in this particular area of responsibility. The following are some suggestions to help with this support:

1. Support with introductions and first meetings. The more formed and warm the first meeting is the more the relationship can get off to a good start. Schools should arrange for class picnics, teas or other gatherings to introduce the new teacher and allow parents to begin to work together.

2. Support with home visits if expected. Summer or fall home visits are the standard practice in some schools and not part of the expectations in others. New teachers should be mentored and supported through the home visiting process with an opportunity to discuss appropriate topics and behavior with an experienced school teacher.

3. Class meetings. New teachers should not be left to plan and carry out their first few class meetings alone. Mentors should provide a good sense of how often meetings are expected, and the general structure and format they should follow. Mentors or college members should also be at the first few meetings to help provide guidance, feedback to the new teacher after the meeting, and support in the meeting. All class meetings in the first year should have an agenda and a planned series of events, which avoids meetings taking turns that the teacher had not anticipated. The mentor should work to ensure that parents with particular concerns and questions that are not related to the class as a whole do not use full parent meeting time to pursue their personal needs, but instead schedule appropriate individual meeting.

4. Class communication. Letters to parents updating them on classroom events are essential to building strong trust and confidence in parents about the classroom and the teacher. Although many new teachers find writing parent letters to be an additional burden, the lack of communication can lead to parents feeling that they don’t know what is happening in the classroom. Mentors should work with all new teachers to ensure that a letter with regular classroom updates and news is being sent home and that all class parents are kept fully informed about upcoming events and responsibilities.

5. Conversation with, or questions from, parents. The new teacher should clearly communicate when she can be reached. The mentor should help the new teacher establish healthy boundaries.

6. Parent/teacher conferences. All new teachers need support around the planning and carrying out of their fall and/or spring parent/teacher conferences. This is especially important around the conferences for students who have specific challenges or classroom issues. Mentors should help new teachers think through and practice their approaches to parents on particularly sensitive issues, such as learning problems and behavioral concerns. There may be cases where the mentor or another colleague should be present at the conference.

7. Parent complaints and concerns. It is normal and to be expected that during each school year parents will raise concerns, and new teachers need to be prepared for it, ready to respond calmly and productively. A conversation about the inevitable and often healthy process of resolving concerns and issues with parents needs to be part of the ongoing mentoring and support. New teachers should also be fully aware of all school policies and practices for complaint and dispute resolution and mediation.

Collegial Expectations of a New Teacher

It is important that newly hired teachers have a clear sense of the expectations upon them in the following areas:

1. Work on committees and work groups within the faculty. Number of committees they should be part of and involvement in curriculum groups or planning groups.
2. Work on community wide committees and work groups. Whether they are expected to take on a community role, beyond their own classrooms, in their first years.
3. Practices for interaction and cooperation with subject teachers. Curriculum groups or other meetings that take place regularly between teachers.
4. Faculty meeting expectations. Attendance and participation guidelines, methods of working and decision making (voting, consensus, etc)
5. Other faculty commitments. Festivals, plays, singing etc.

Evaluating a New Teacher

Evaluation is a very different process to mentoring, and must be viewed and practiced separately. Mentoring is a process of supporting and developing teaching skill, a process in which the mentor is an advocate for and supporter of the individual teacher. Evaluation is a more objective and standard-based approach to assessing how the teacher is doing in the classroom. Both are important for the long-term development of a strong teacher.

Evaluation in most situations takes place only after a couple of years of teaching with strong mentoring have been completed. The teacher is then ready to have an outside evaluation of his teaching, outside meaning not carried out by his regular mentor,. New teachers need to be evaluated within the structure of evaluation in the school as a whole.

In some cases where there are concerns about new teachers and their abilities in the classroom, an evaluation may be necessary at the end of the first or second year as part of a decision making process about the teacher’s continued role as class teacher. It is very important that as this takes place the distinction between mentoring and evaluating is sustained and that the teacher’s mentor is not asked to recommend for or against continued employment.
Continuing Education for a New Teacher

Continued professional development is an essential part of every teacher’s development, whether newly educated and hired, or a long-term successful teacher. Professional development opportunities can be varied and range from curriculum development work to personal refreshment and renewal. The following kinds of professional development opportunities should be offered to all new teachers:

a. Conference attendance and participation. Regional, national and topic specific conferences are offered through AWSNA and the Waldorf teacher education institutes each year. Conversation about appropriate ones for individual new teachers should be part of normal mentoring work, within the budgetary structure of the school of course.

b. Ongoing summer workshops. A teacher education certificate means that the newly hired teacher has completed the full course of study in Waldorf education offered by the particular institution. However, these courses can not be focused on the entire curriculum for specific school years. Many fully trained teachers find it very helpful to attend intensive summer curriculum or personal renewal courses as they prepare for their next year of teaching.

c. Local, non-Waldorf, opportunities. There are many excellent opportunities for continued education and professional development in communities. Consideration of such programs and offerings should be made as professional development choices are decided.

d. Renewal opportunities– arts, anthroposophy and other personal renewal courses and programs.

Ideally, through the mentoring process each teacher will have a personal professional development plan. This plan is particularly important for new teachers as it will form the structure for their continued education and growth during the very important first three or four years of their life as Waldorf teachers.

Individual information about and suggestions from your new teacher

(This form should be filled out by your new teacher with their ideas and input for supporting them well)

Name of new teacher:

Teacher Education Institution:

Program:

Particular strengths that I bring:

Particular areas where I need growth and development

Description of my individual practical teaching experience:

I would like the following mentoring support:

I would like the following continued education support:

Mentor Qualifications and Scheduling, AWSNA Effective Practices

Mentor Qualifications and Scheduling
From AWSNA Effective Practices at http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/11_EffPractices/efmenmenu.asp

Mentoring and Renewal – Section 2
1. How are mentors assigned? In what way does our school match the needs of a teacher or staff member with the skills possessed by a mentor?

2. How does your school ensure that the mentor has sufficient experience to guide his or her colleague?

3. In what way does your school ensure that the mentor is committed to the success of his/her colleague?

4. How does your school help train or prepare mentors for the work that they will be doing with colleagues?

5. Describe the way in which your school’s mentoring program is grounded in an Anthroposophical perspective. Is classroom mentoring based on an understanding of Waldorf education and an Anthroposophic understanding of child development? Is the mentoring of staff members rooted in a threefold perspective of social activity?

6. Are time and space allowed for in the weekly schedule to ensure adequate time for visits and meetings? Are mentoring responsibilities considered when other responsibilities such as committee work are assigned?

7. What is working particularly well at your school with regard to mentoring qualifications and scheduling?

8. Is there anything that you would like to see changed regarding the qualifications of mentors and their scheduling at your school?

1. How are mentors assigned? In what way does a school match the needs of a teacher or staff member with the skills possessed by a mentor?
When selecting people to serve as mentors we look for people with a number of years of teaching experience and who have had good evaluations of their work. We expect mentors to understand the anthroposophic principles behind Waldorf education and to have good communication skills. It is important that the gesture of mentoring work is understood by the individual, and he or she is able to act in a non-judgmental way that is intended to provide support, protection and advocacy when needed. Many schools report that their mentors have participated in the pedagogical advisor’s colloquium or in other regional training sessions for mentors.

Mentors are matched with advisees from the same section of the school whenever possible. A high school teacher will be paired with another high school teacher or two early childhood teachers would work together. Schools try to match the personalities of the mentor and his advisee. In other cases a school will try to match a mentor with particular strength in an area where a young teacher needs support. For example, a mentor who has had real success in his middle school teaching might be paired with a newer teacher who is just entering this stage of teaching for the first time.

Schools noted that it seems that foreign language and music teachers often need more mentoring support than other teachers. It is thought that this is because they often come to the Waldorf school through their technical expertise, rather than through a commitment to Waldorf education and an understanding of child development from an anthroposophic perspective. Schools need to be creative to find the best ways to support these teachers. One school mentioned that it pulled a teacher with previous experience teaching foreign language off of one of her committee assignments and asked her to serve instead as a mentor to a young teacher who needed this extra level of support.

2. How does your school ensure that the mentor has sufficient experience to guide his or her colleague?
In the case of internal mentors the school is well aware of the mentor’s strengths as a teacher and as a colleague, making it fairly easy to match a mentor with the needs of an advisee. In the case of outside mentors the school must be careful to get good referrals from those it is connected with in the movement. Schools typically select their most experienced teachers to serve as mentors, and then support them in this work by allowing them to attend the pedagogical advisors’ colloquium or other training sessions on the topic of mentoring.

3. In what way does your school ensure that the mentor is committed to the success of his/her colleague?
Schools have a variety of methods to ensure that the mentor is committed to the success of his advisee:
The pedagogical chair and the personnel committee (or leadership team) follow up on the effectiveness of each mentoring relationship early in the school year and at regular intervals thereafter.

Often the pedagogical chair has scheduled observational rounds when he observes teachers in the classroom. He will check in with the teacher and the mentor prior to the visit, and this helps to ensure that the mentoring relationship is on track.

Schools have learned to be careful about who is asked to serve as a mentor, and generally will not allow anyone who is teaching 1st or 8th grade to serve as a mentor due to the special burdens experienced in those years.
At the end of the year each advisee is asked to complete a self-evaluation that includes comments about the quality of the mentoring support received. If a particular mentor receives negative feedback in a few cases then he will be excused from future mentoring work.

4. How does your school help train or prepare mentors for the work that they will be doing with colleagues?
Many schools have found that attendance at the pedagogical advisors’ colloquium has been very helpful to their mentors. One school mentioned that after attending the pedagogical advisors’ colloquium the information was brought back to the local adult education program. A mentoring training program was developed that has been very helpful to teachers in their mentoring work, and which has the added convenience of being offered close to home so that the maximum number of mentors from a school can participate in the training. Oftentimes presentations are made at faculty meetings about the role of the mentor and what is needed or expected from individuals in this role.

5. Describe the way in which your school’s mentoring program is grounded in an anthroposophic perspective. Is classroom mentoring based on an understanding of Waldorf education and an Anthroposophic understanding of child development? Is the mentoring of staff members rooted in a threefold perspective of social activity?
The anthroposophic deepening of a teacher’s work is one of the key elements that is hoped for in a mentoring relationship. This aspect of the work is built up over time as the young teacher feels safe and confident in his mentoring relationship. The questions come naturally when the relationship has been built up. Of course schools would never select someone to serve as a mentor who is not a trained Waldorf teacher so mentors are well qualified to answer the various questions that may come up. In general schools expect that any teacher hired who has not yet completed the Waldorf teacher training will continue on this path, so questions about child development from an anthroposophic understanding will come up as a matter of course.

Mentors are aided in this work to bring an anthroposophic perspective to the conversation when the faculty is engaged in study. The Study of Man (Rudolf Steiner) and books about the threefold social order are frequent topics in faculty study. Schools also distribute copies of And Who Shall Teach the Teachers? and Working Together: An Introduction to Pedagogical Mentoring in Waldorf Schools.

All mentors are able to speak with their advisees about the development of the child and the role of the temperaments. The mentors often help the teachers prepare for parent evenings, which include a discussion with the parents about how the curriculum meets the needs of the child at a particular stage of development. Because the mentor is always present at the advisee’s parent nights the mentor can see whether the young teacher is able to communicate this perspective clearly to others or whether additional conversation in the mentoring sessions would be helpful.

In addition to the work of the mentor, some schools have had success by hiring a member of the local anthroposophic community to meet regularly with young, untrained teachers to cover the basic books and anthroposophic leading thoughts.

6. Are time and space allowed for in the weekly schedule to ensure adequate time for visits and meetings? Are mentoring responsibilities considered when other responsibilities such as committee work are assigned?

The schools with strong mentoring programs all reported that a critical part of the effectiveness of a mentoring program is that mentoring meetings must be included on the school schedule during the regular school day. However, any training done by a local member of the anthroposophic community for small groups of new teachers takes place after school to maximize the number of people who are able to attend.

7. What is working particularly well at your school with regard to mentoring qualifications and scheduling? (Editor’s Note: The following comments were provided by schools that participated in our study.)
We are well served in that we have really experienced people who are quite capable at mentoring.

Mentoring time periods are a set part of the schedule, and part of our established protocol. We will not allow a school schedule to be approved until the time for all mentoring meetings has been included.

We do a good job of matching mentors with their advisees. Whenever possible we match people from the same parts of the school (high school, early childhood, foreign language, etc.) We are generally able to find skills in our mentors that match the young teacher’s needs.

The social collegial element of the mentoring partnership leads to productive relationships among colleagues. They help each other with their professional development, and the younger teachers feel as though they are being supported by the most experienced teachers.

The members of the Teacher Development committee have a great deal of experience and know what it takes to be a good mentor. Providing quality mentoring to our new teachers is an important responsibility, and the members of our committee understand and accept that.

8. Is there anything that you would like to see changed regarding the qualifications of mentors and their scheduling at your school?
We should be providing an opportunity for conversation between the mentors so they have an opportunity to speak with each other about this work and how it might be improved.

We can always use more qualified mentors to support the specialty subject teachers.

We have just merged with another Waldorf high school, so we need to provide more intensive support to our growing high school faculty.

The subject teacher area is the most difficult one for us to support well. When we get new teachers from the outside they often do not have an understanding of the developmental stages of the child and what is appropriate. They may have great skills, but don’t understand how our view of child development stands behind everything that we do with the children. To help subject teachers succeed, especially, language and music teachers, they need to observe experienced faculty teaching. They need the ongoing support of the class teachers whose children they teach as well as the mentor’s help. They also need to be observed and to get feedback on what needs improving. This takes a large amount of time and effort. The bottom line, however, is that these teachers need a set of Waldorf skills such as music and singing or storytelling and drama or art and experience that can be employed in their lessons, including other mainstream elements. The children expect to be taught using Waldorf methods.

This chapter is part of Effective Practices : Mentoring

From AWSNA Effective Practices at http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/11_EffPractices/efmenmenu.asp

The full module includes:

MENTORING MENU

  1. The Mentoring Program
    2. Mentor Qualifications and Scheduling
    3. Oversight and Review of the Mentoring Program
    4. Evaluations and Mentoring
    5. Personal Development and Enrichment

Evaluations and Mentoring, ASWNA Effective Practices

Evaluations and Mentoring
From AWSNA Effective Practices at http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/11_EffPractices/efmenmenu.asp

Mentoring and Renewal – Section 4

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?
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

7. What is working particularly well at your school with regard to the relationship between mentoring and evaluation activities? (Editor’s Note: The following comments were shared by the schools that contributed to this study.)
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.

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.

This chapter is part of Effective Practices : Mentoring

From AWSNA Effective Practices at http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/11_EffPractices/efmenmenu.asp

The full module includes:

MENTORING MENU

  1. The Mentoring Program
    2. Mentor Qualifications and Scheduling
    3. Oversight and Review of the Mentoring Program
    4. Evaluations and Mentoring
    5. Personal Development and Enrichment

The Mentoring Program, AWSNA Effective Practices

The Mentoring Program
From AWSNA Effective Practices at http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/11_EffPractices/efmenmenu.asp

Mentoring and Renewal – Section 1
1. Which person or group in the school holds the responsibility for the mentoring and renewal program for faculty and staff?

2. How does the mentoring program work as part of the school’s complete development plan for its employees? Describe how the mentoring process is coordinated with other aspects of personal development such as evaluation and outside training through conferences, workshops and courses.

3. How does the school ensure that all teachers and staff members receive mentoring in a manner that is appropriate for their situation and level of expertise?

4. How is the mentoring program supported in the school’s financial plan?

5. How does the school determine when an individual’s mentoring needs exceed what is available among other faculty or staff members? How and when are outside mentors used?

6. Are mentors used to support teachers and staff in all areas of the work, or is mentoring support limited to the classroom or technical areas of the staff member’s work?

7. Is the mentoring program recognized and supported by the school calendar, policies and practices? Is there written documentation regarding the mentoring program, and the roles and responsibilities of each participant?

8. With regard to the above issues, what is working particularly well at your school?

9. Is there something that you would like to see changed at your school with regard to the above issues?

1. Which person or group in the school holds the responsibility for the mentoring and renewal program for faculty and staff?
In most schools the responsibility for mentoring and renewal of faculty members is held by the Personnel, Human Resources, or Teacher Development Committee. It is typical for the committee to include teachers from each section of the school (Early Childhood, Lower School, and High School). Schools which have a pedagogical dean include this individual on the committee, and it is often the dean who serves as the committee chairman. Individuals selected for this committee must be good leaders who are effective in implementing decisions and who are well respected by their fellow teachers. Oftentimes the committee has a staff member designated as the coordinator for the faculty mentoring program. Less frequently the responsibility for mentoring and renewal is held by the school’s governance council or leadership team.

The responsibility for mentoring and renewal for staff members is the responsibility of the school’s administrator. This is due to the fact that each staff position is unique and so there is little opportunity for in-house peer mentoring to take place. Most of the professional development opportunities for staff members come in the form of attendance at outside conferences and workshops.

2. How does the mentoring program work as part of the school’s complete development plan for its employees? Describe how the mentoring process is coordinated with other aspects of personal development such as evaluation and outside training through conferences, workshops and courses.
Every school in our study assigns a mentor to each teacher who is new to the school, regardless of the amount of experience a teacher may have had in prior schools. The Teacher Development Committee has a preliminary conversation with the new employee to find out what kinds of support the teacher hopes to receive from the mentor, and then assigns someone who is best matched with the person’s needs and desires. Listening carefully to the new employee’s needs helps to ensure that the mentor and her advisee are well matched. In those rare instances in which a mentor and her advisee can not work well together, it is the responsibility of the Teacher Development Committee to assign a new mentor.
It is usual for a new employee to have a mentor assigned for the first three to five years of employment, although some schools require a mentor for the full eight years of a class teacher’s cycle.

It is often easier for schools to provide mentors for class teachers than for subject and early childhood teachers, just because there are more class teachers in a school. For this reason it is sometimes necessary for schools to find outside mentors for these teachers.

Schools work hard at maintaining the integrity of the mentoring process, and work to keep the mentoring and evaluation processes separate. In situations where a mentor is concerned about the quality of an advisee’s work, it is the mentor’s responsibility to notify the chair of the teacher development committee of the concern and to request that an evaluation be performed by someone else. The mentor is never asked to do an evaluation of her advisee.

At the end of this period of school assigned mentoring, teachers move into a new relationship with a peer speaking partner. The timing of this change is typically a result of the evaluation and professional development planning process. Most schools require those teachers who do not have a school assigned mentor to select a peer speaking partner, although a few leave this decision up to the individual teacher.

It is typical for the same committee at the school to be responsible for overseeing the evaluation process, the creation and implementation of the teachers’ professional development plans, and the mentoring program, so the overlap in these processes is well managed with little difficulty.

Learning Circles
One school in our study reported the implementation of a new program called Learning Circles. Although this program is still in its infancy it appears to be working well, and we include a detailed description of how the program works so that other schools may consider adopting some or all of the program’s features.

Every teacher, new and old, is also assigned to a learning group. The learning groups have four or five people in each circle. Today the following learning groups exist at the school:
Grades 1-5
Grades 6-8
Music Teachers
Early Childhood Teachers
High School Humanities
High School Math and Science
World Languages
Subject Teachers

These learning circles meet once a week and all members are expected to attend on a weekly basis. To ensure that these meetings are regularly attended they take place during the school day and the schedule is arranged in such a way that all members of a circle are available at a designated time.

One of the responsibilities of the learning groups is to hear each member’s own self assessment and then to work together to create a professional development plan for the teacher. The self assessment is simple in format, asking the individual to describe what he or she does, to list one’s strengths and weaknesses, to describe what is most satisfying about the work, what is the least satisfying, and what the school and the teacher can each do to improve the teacher’s performance and make him or her better at teaching.

The self assessments and the professional development plans created for each colleague are done in writing, and are turned in to the Personnel Committee.

Newer colleagues that are involved in the one-on-one mentoring program receive formal evaluations rather than participating in the self assessment/peer development process described above. The school uses both inside and outside evaluators for this work. The evaluators make observations, listing commendations and opportunities for improvement and listing recommendations for professional development. These newer colleagues will still participate with their peers in the learning circle for purposes of hearing others’ self assessments and the creation of the peer professional development plan, but are exempt from doing a self assessment as this evaluation is taking place in a different way.

In addition to reviewing each member’s self assessment, the learning circles are a place where various questions can be addressed. Sometimes these questions are sent from the school; in other cases they are issues that the group is interested in exploring.

In order to make this aspect of the group’s work real we require that the groups present the results of their work to the whole faculty. For example, at a recent in-service day we had a focus on parent education. We asked each learning group to look at the list of topics that we address with parents as a part of our parent education program, and asked them what else should be brought to the parents and what changes should be made in the way in which the material is presented. In this way all of the learning groups were able to participate effectively in a whole school pedagogical topic.

3. How does the school ensure that all teachers and staff members receive mentoring in a manner that is appropriate for their situation and level of expertise?
A frequent approach to following up on the effectiveness of mentoring relationships is the mentoring log. The log shows the date of each mentoring conversation and describes in a general way the topics that were discussed at the meetings. No personal details are included; it just may note that the topics discussed include the temperaments, the class play and an upcoming parent evening. Both the mentor and her advisee initial the log. The logs are turned in to the Teacher Development Committee coordinator so that the committee members are aware that the meetings are taking place and that appropriate topics are being discussed.

The Teacher Development Committee gives a monthly update to the College or Leadership Team on its work, and the College/Leadership Team ensures that the committee is serving effectively.

Most schools include the times of the weekly mentoring meetings on the official school schedules so that this work happens on a regular basis. These times are considered sacred, and are not used for other meetings.

It is usually the Teacher Development Committee that coordinates all of the peer visits and evaluations for teachers. This allows the Committee members to be quite aware of each teacher’s particular development needs and can take this into consideration when assigning mentors.

In the annual self evaluation a portion of that evaluation is focused on the quality of the mentoring relationship, giving the Teacher Development committee good feedback on who is serving as an effective mentor and whether a particular teacher’s needs are being met.

4. How is the mentoring program supported in the school’s financial plan?
The first line of financial support for mentoring is to ensure that the time for mentoring meetings is scheduled during the school day for all teachers. In addition to this, whenever outside mentors are used they are compensated by the school for their time and travel expenses. Most schools report that serving as a mentor is considered when calculating a teacher’s workload, and that serving as a mentor may be considered as part of a teacher’s additional non-teaching duties.

Most schools provide additional funding for outside professional development as well. The amount of these budgets varies from school to school. Several schools mentioned having a budget of approximately $500 per person per year. One school mentioned that an adult education program uses its facilities rent free. In exchange that school’s teachers are allowed to attend all programs and classes offered through that program for free. One very large school with classes in early childhood through high school has a budget for mentoring and professional development of $20,000 to $30,000 a year.

5. How does the school determine when an individual’s mentoring needs exceed what is available among other faculty or staff members? How and when are outside mentors used?
Most schools report using in-house mentors whenever possible. This is most common in schools with experienced faculty members and when resources exist to send the teachers to attend the pedagogical advisor’s colloquium.

An outside mentor can be brought in for a variety of reasons.
• In some cases a teacher has had a series of mentors and none of them have worked out.
• In other cases the evaluations show a serious concern that needs intense remediation if the teacher is to be retained on staff. In these cases an outside mentor is brought in to take a fresh look at the teacher’s work and to try a fresh approach to the work with the teacher. This outside mentoring must be built into the school’s budget. In extreme cases it is possible for the school to arrange a year-long intensive relationship.
• In yet other situations the school does not have someone on the staff that is a good match with the young teacher’s needs.

6. Are mentors used to support teachers and staff in all areas of the work, or is mentoring support limited to the classroom or technical areas of the staff member’s work?
Teacher mentoring takes place in all areas of the work including work with parents and other non-classroom activities. Typically mentors are required to attend all parent evenings and can be requested to sit in on parent conferences.

Mentoring conversations may address the meditative aspects of teaching work, or topics such as student temperaments. The mentor is required to review all communications the teacher sends out for accuracy, tone and completeness. The mentor also makes recommendations as to which courses and summer work might be helpful to the teacher. The mentor will also sit in when there are serious issues with colleagues or with parents.

The school that is using Learning Circles as part of its professional development program reports that the work of the Learning Circles is intended to be primarily focused on work in the classroom. At times the conversations in the Circles stray from the pedagogical into the operational as the school struggles with how to implement some of the new ideas being discussed. It is the intent though that these Learning Circles be used to address the burning pedagogical issues – how does one teach this, how do you assess that, what is taught in one block or another.

7. Is the mentoring program recognized and supported by the school calendar, policies and practices? Is there written documentation regarding the mentoring program, and the roles and responsibilities of each participant?
Schools with effective mentoring programs report that those programs are recognized as being of key importance, and that the programs are well documented. Mentoring sessions are included in the school schedules both for one-on-one sessions and for Learning circle meetings. These meetings take place during the school day, and are never scheduled to occur in the afternoon after school has been dismissed for the day.

One school described its program this way:
The school has a significant amount of documentation on the subject of mentoring, evaluation and professional development. Some of it is already in the employee handbook, and other documents are intended for future inclusion there.

The Teacher Development Committee makes presentations to the full faculty several times a year and ensures that the faculty is fully informed bout the mentoring program and the school’s perspective on professional development opportunities.

In addition the Teacher Development Committee meets weekly for 1 ½ hours. A portion of this meeting time (15 to 20 minutes) is used touching base with every teacher in the school during the course of the year. The Teacher Development Committee is interested in hearing directly from the teachers about how things are going in all aspects of their work so that each colleague can be properly supported.

8. With regard to the above issues, what is working particularly well at your school?
The school has a large supply of Waldorf trained teachers with good experience, and the young teachers appreciate the support and guidance they receive. The mentoring program is working very well and the teachers feel well supported by it.

Mentoring is helpful as its focus is on professional development, rather than being seen as a punitive approach to performance improvement. There is good will about the program from both the mentors and the colleagues they support.

The Teacher Development Committee has a strong presence in the school. People come to the committee for guidance and advice.

The reporting to the College on a monthly basis by the Teacher Development Committee has been really helpful. It ensures that College members are in the loop on difficulties and the needs of various individuals. It is the responsibility of the College chair to share some of the highlights of this work with the Board of Trustees, again helping to ensure that everyone is fully and appropriately informed.

The fact that every new teacher is assigned a mentor is a real plus. In the case of a class teacher this mentoring support will continue for eight years until the teacher has completed an entire cycle of classes.

The mentoring policy, created by faculty in the context of the Pedagogical Carrying Group (pedagogical management) gives very clear guidelines and expectations which are implemented by the mentoring program coordinator, giving more form and consciousness for the program.

A lot of our mentors have been through the Sound Circle Mentoring Seminar, so we have trained mentors who are sensitive to the issues that mentoring presents.

We are fortunate to receive a grant from the city for funding through the No Child Left Behind Act (legislation in the United States). This funding is substantial and can be used for professional development. These funds, plus those the school designates out of its own operating budget, are used for a variety of professional development options. In some cases the teacher’s mentor may suggest an appropriate course or opportunity; in other cases the idea for professional development comes from the review process.

The school tries to schedule main lesson for two of our grades later in the morning so that it is possible for teachers to do observations of another teacher’s classroom.

The scheduling of the Learning Circle meetings is working well and is a key element in the program’s success.

It is very easy for the full faculty meetings to be filled up with business issues and leave teachers feeling that there is not enough time to discuss pedagogical matters. The Learning Circle meetings solve this problem by providing a space that is dedicated to this pedagogical focus. Teachers feel they are able to talk about the questions they have about their work.

The Learning Circles also present teachers with the opportunity to do some visioning work around the curriculum. They can discuss some aspect of the pedagogy and agree together about where they would like to take a particular subject or topic in the future.

The Learning Circles provide a place where a pedagogical conversation can be sustained over time so that teachers are able to really get to the heart of an issue.

The Learning Circles provide a place where we can talk about the school’s scope and sequence documents for learning. Discussions take place about how something is really approached in first grade and then second grade. We can talk about whether we are really following the scope and sequence documents, whether these documents need changing, or whether there is room for improvement in our teaching work.

Research has shown that a peer sharing process is more effective in creating change in teacher performance than is a traditional peer evaluation process. People are more likely to hear one another and act on recommendations when they come from peers than when they are top down in direction. In the past we were doing fifteen evaluations a year which was an administrative nightmare and caused a lot of collegial distrust.

9. Is there something that you would like to see changed at your school with regard to the above issues?
We have to be careful to keep the conversations in our Learning Circles focused on the pedagogy. We are often tempted to allow too much operational conversation to seep in, which detracts from the intent of our time together.

We have a group that coordinates the formal evaluation portion of the program for our teachers, but we are still working on developing this part of the program.

We are still struggling with how to get parent input into the evaluation process.

There is no Learning Circle for the administrative staff. People would like to have one, and sometimes express resentment at the “old style” of management used in this area of the school evaluation and professional development work.

We are worried about the members of our administrative staff from a developmental perspective. We have had an interim administrative structure in place for some time and it is not clear that our administrative staff members are receiving the development opportunities they deserve and that will allow them to really understand and speak clearly about the work we are doing with the young people in our school. One of the questions for the future is whether the Teacher Development Committee should become a Professional Development Committee and extend its responsibilities to all employees of the school.

The schedule of classes needs to be more refined to support the mentoring work. We should actually write the scheduled mentoring meetings onto each teacher’s schedule so that when changes are made to the teaching schedules we do not compromise the mentoring relationship in the process.

It would be helpful for the mentors to meet together more frequently to discuss their work and discuss overall problems. This kind of sharing is invaluable, but doesn’t happen as often as might be preferred.

Our school would be well served by an increase in funding for professional development. The current budget of $500 per person barely covers an airfare, let alone the cost of a program and lodging while in attendance.

This chapter is part of Effective Practices : Mentoring

From AWSNA Effective Practices at http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/11_EffPractices/efmenmenu.asp

The full module includes:

MENTORING MENU

  1. The Mentoring Program
    2. Mentor Qualifications and Scheduling
    3. Oversight and Review of the Mentoring Program
    4. Evaluations and Mentoring
    5. Personal Development and Enrichment

Mentoring a New Teacher from Transitions Handbook, Teacher Education Network, AWSNA

Mentoring a New Teacher

Transitions Handbook, Teacher Education Network, AWSNA

 

The mentoring of a new teacher is essential in supporting a newly trained teacher in the process of moving from being a teacher education institute graduate to a successful and happy teacher. Every new teacher needs to receive strong and attentive mentoring. The following guidelines are designed to help each school shape its own individual mentoring program for new teachers.

 

Goals of Mentoring:

Mentoring is designed to help support the following:

 

  1. Deepen insights into Waldorf pedagogy, festivals, and grade level curriculum.
  2. Support the development of effective relationships with the children, including order and discipline.
  3. Create healthy social dynamics within the class.
  4. Apply age appropriate curriculum methods to support healthy child development.
  5. Foster collegial relationships.
  6. Facilitate better communication and partnering with parents.
  7. Promote personal well being and balance in relation to teaching.

 

Choosing a Mentor:

A mentor should have most or all of the following characteristics:

 

  1. Experienced, trained Waldorf Teacher, ideally having completed

an eight-year cycle, but at least well grounded in the year the new teacher will be teaching.

  1. Familiar with the school – able to convey all necessary information and

support in school wide areas such as expectations, policies and procedures.

  1. Available for meetings and consultations – open and generous with his

or her time and attention. Teachers who are already carrying large parts of school administration or in challenging years and situations themselves do not often make good mentors.

  1. Strong communicators with a history of good parent and colleague

relationships.

  1. Confident about classroom practices and about giving advice and

guidance to the young teacher.

  1. Able to work well with the individual teacher being mentored – this is a

matter of temperament and approach and needs to be considered for each pairing.

  1. Knows how to ask questions and see that there are many approaches to

teaching, not just his or her own.

 

 

 

Sometimes it is impossible to find all these characteristics in one mentor and

in that situation some schools have two people working with one teacher – an outside person doing classroom observation visits and an in-house teacher doing weekly meetings with the new teacher. In this situation, it is still essential that both mentors make early and frequent visits to the classroom.

 

A Mentoring Schedule:

 

Mentoring should include classroom visits and observation and weekly meetings for planning, consulting and addressing issues.

 

Schedule for classroom visits and observation:

 

In the first year a new teacher should have at least a three-day classroom

visit and observation within the first two weeks of the school year, followed by a two-to-three day visit around the winter break (December through February) and a final two-day visit in the spring.   It is essential that each visit be longer than a single day since the teacher’s work with the rhythm of the days is a critical part of the observation. This is the time habits are built for better or worse.

 

In coming years a two-day visit, once or preferably twice, during the school year is usually sufficient as long as there are no significant concerns about the teacher’s classroom performance.

 

Scheduling these visits can be challenging. Some schools arrange it so

that on a particular day subject teachers teach the main lesson in the mentor’s class to allow the mentor to observe the new teacher’s main lesson. In other schools the main lesson and the first two subject lessons are exchanged in the day occasionally, so the children start with the subject lessons and the mentor teaches his or her main lesson later in the day, after observing the new teacher. Other schools, especially when the upper-grade teachers have heavy mentoring loads, set a permanent schedule for the upper grades which starts the day with subject lessons, one or more days a week, allowing the main lesson teacher to observe regularly in lower grade classrooms. Finally, some other schools have a ninth main lesson teacher or permanent substitute who regularly steps in to allow the mentor time to observe in the new teacher’s classroom or does much of the mentoring.

 

Schedule for mentoring meetings:

 

Each teacher should have a weekly mentoring meeting of at least one

subject class period in length. For new teachers, especially those with lower grades, it is often best to schedule this meeting for the end or after the school day, as they are with their classes for more subject periods than higher grade teachers.

 

In some situations some of these meetings can be held by telephone, but

ideally the meeting is direct and long enough for issues to surface. It is also important that the mentor ensure that the meeting is directed to mentoring and not to personal conversation, even when supportive.

 

Topics for Mentoring:

 

The following are suggestions for what mentoring conversations should include:

 

  1. Focus on a small number of central areas that the new teacher has identified as needing improvement and/or development.
  2. Overview of the year’s curriculum, including goal-setting as well as the why for each subject. Review available resource materials. Discuss general organization of the year.
  3. Review block schedule for the year.
  4. Review the block plan a good two weeks before each block begins, including resources for songs, flute or recorder pieces, poems and verses, and movement.
  5. Regularly review circle or opening exercises, rhythm of the main lesson, transitions, and discipline.
  6. Advise on report writing; share copies of other reports for that grade in our school; preview and review reports.
  7. Discuss and advise on particular children. This would include observing that child during recess, etc. Review assessments, past reports, etc.
  8. Preview parent/teacher conferences, format, children with difficulties, etc. Review after conferences.
  9. Review content of parent evenings. Plan to visit a parent evening in the fall and follow up in the spring if necessary.
  10. Be available to review correspondence that goes out to parents.
  11. Review the yearly festivals and events; help to gather resources. Inform the teacher of how things have been done at this school. Discuss any changes before they are implemented.

 

Resolving Problems with Mentoring:

 

Each school needs to have a policy and procedure for resolving concerns and

problems with mentoring, making clear who is responsible for overseeing

mentoring throughout the school, and ensuring it is happening regularly.

 

Supporting a New Teacher with His or Her Class Parents

 

The very nature of a teacher education institution means that the area that it is hardest to prepare teacher education students for, besides classroom discipline, is his or her work with class parents. At the institutions there are no parents to practice with, and as each class has its own nature and personality, it is hard to provide anything beyond guidelines for parent work. This having been said, much is accomplished in the programs in cultivating right listening and right speech practice, consensus decision-making, and appreciating multiple points of view. Participants are also given an understanding of the parent perspective and point-of-view.

 

However, the teacher’s relationship with the class parents is a central part of their success or failure as a class teacher. Therefore, it is essential that each new class teacher be consciously mentored and supported in this particular area of responsibility. The following are some suggestions to help with this support:

 

  1. Support with introductions and first meetings. The more formed and warm the first meeting is the more the relationship can get off to a good start. Schools should arrange for class picnics, teas or other gatherings to introduce the new teacher and allow parents to begin to work together.

 

  1. Support with home visits if expected. Summer or fall home visits are the standard practice in some schools and not part of the expectations in others. New teachers should be mentored and supported through the home visiting process with an opportunity to discuss appropriate topics and behavior with an experienced school teacher.

 

  1. Class meetings. New teachers should not be left to plan and carry out their first few class meetings alone. Mentors should provide a good sense of how often meetings are expected, and the general structure and format they should follow. Mentors or college members should also be at the first few meetings to help provide guidance, feedback to the new teacher after the meeting, and support in the meeting. All class meetings in the first year should have an agenda and a planned series of events, which avoids meetings taking turns that the teacher had not anticipated. The mentor should work to ensure that parents with particular concerns and questions that are not related to the class as a whole do not use full parent meeting time to pursue their personal needs, but instead schedule appropriate individual meeting.

 

  1. Class communication. Letters to parents updating them on classroom events are essential to building strong trust and confidence in parents about the classroom and the teacher. Although many new teachers find writing parent letters to be an additional burden, the lack of communication can lead to parents feeling that they don’t know what is happening in the classroom. Mentors should work with all new teachers to ensure that a letter with regular classroom updates and news is being sent home and that all class parents are kept fully informed about upcoming events and responsibilities.

 

  1. Conversation with, or questions from, parents. The new teacher should clearly communicate when she can be reached. The mentor should help the new teacher establish healthy boundaries.

 

  1. Parent/teacher conferences. All new teachers need support around the planning and carrying out of their fall and/or spring parent/teacher conferences. This is especially important around the conferences for students who have specific challenges or classroom issues. Mentors should help new teachers think through and practice their approaches to parents on particularly sensitive issues, such as learning problems and behavioral concerns. There may be cases where the mentor or another colleague should be present at the conference.

 

  1. Parent complaints and concerns. It is normal and to be expected that during each school year parents will raise concerns, and new teachers need to be prepared for it, ready to respond calmly and productively. A conversation about the inevitable and often healthy process of resolving concerns and issues with parents needs to be part of the ongoing mentoring and support. New teachers should also be fully aware of all school policies and practices for complaint and dispute resolution and mediation.

 

Collegial Expectations of a New Teacher

 

It is important that newly hired teachers have a clear sense of the expectations upon them in the following areas:

 

  1. Work on committees and work groups within the faculty. Number of committees they should be part of and involvement in curriculum groups or planning groups.
  2. Work on community wide committees and work groups. Whether they are expected to take on a community role, beyond their own classrooms, in their first years.
  3. Practices for interaction and cooperation with subject teachers. Curriculum groups or other meetings that take place regularly between teachers.
  4. Faculty meeting expectations. Attendance and participation guidelines, methods of working and decision making (voting, consensus, etc)
  5. Other faculty commitments. Festivals, plays, singing etc.

 

Mentoring: Oversight and Review of the Mentoring Program, AWSNA Effective Practices

OVERSIGHT AND REVIEW OF THE MENTORING PROGRAM

From AWSNA Effective Practices at http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/11_EffPractices/efmenmenu.asp


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?

MEN 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?
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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. Did the learning circles enjoy a high level of participation? Were participants actively engaged in the work of the learning circles?
  4. 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?
  5. 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.

MEN 3-2

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?
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.

MEN 3-3

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.

MEN 3-4

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.

MEN 3-5

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?
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.

MEN 3-6

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?
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.

MEN 3-7

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?
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.

MEN 3-8

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.

MEN 3-9

Are there aspects of the review and administration of the mentoring program that need improvement at your school? What should be changed and why?
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.

This chapter is part of Effective Practices : Mentoring

From AWSNA Effective Practices at http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/11_EffPractices/efmenmenu.asp

The full module includes:

MENTORING MENU

  1. The Mentoring Program
    2. Mentor Qualifications and Scheduling
    3. Oversight and Review of the Mentoring Program
    4. Evaluations and Mentoring
    5. Personal Development and Enrichment

 

Alignment and Orientation: LeadTogether Highlight #12 11-24-14

Alignment and Orientation: LeadTogether Highlight #11 11-24-14

Alignment is an important element in any organization, school or business. How people are aligned with the whole of the organization and understand both how the parts work together and how they can be successful in the parts and the whole is vital to the ongoing success of any organization. More often than not, the practical realities of an organization’s life draw people into positions of responsibilities without allowing for time to help them prepare with a proper orientation. This is especially true in small organizations that rely on volunteers to make up for the lack of resources.

There are many elements to a good orientation, but these three are perhaps the most essential:

  • Developing alignment with the ideals, values and culture of the organization;
  • Establishing clarity about an individual’s roles and responsibilities and how these fit into the whole organization, and;
  • Providing a mentor to assure support for a successful beginning.

In Waldorf Schools, alignment is the most important. A spiritually oriented organization requires an active conscious connection to its spiritual foundations for all participating members of the community, not just for individuals at the core or in leadership positions.

Every activity, from faculty meeting to board meeting to parent meeting to committee meeting is an opportunity to explore and renew one’s connection to and understanding of the spiritual foundations of the education and the organization. If this is done consciously, it makes a huge difference in the success of the institution. But the alignment with the impulse cannot take place only in the meetings. Each individual must also work on it by himself or herself.

One of the best ways to assure this work on alignment happens--whether it is for a family entering the school, a new board member, a volunteer or a new teacher -- is making sure it is a part of every person’s orientation.

Michael Soule