Working Together: An Introduction to Pedagogical Mentoring


Table of Contents

Foreword .     .     .                7

Introduction .     .     .     .                       11

Considerations for Schools .     .     .           15

An Example of Mentoring Practice in the

Elementary Grades .     .     .        15

Working Together Towards Excellence in

Waldorf Education   .     .     .             15

One School’s Experience with Mentoring .     .   16

Effective Mentoring .     .     .     .              17

Examples of Mentoring Styles

or Approaches .     .     .     .       .18

Implementing In-House Mentoring .     .           20

The Difference between Mentoring

and Evaluation .     .     .     .     .              20

Considerations for the Individual Mentor   .     .    .      22

The Mentor .     .     .    .     .     .                    22

Why Become a Mentor? .     .     .     . .              24

Basic Criteria for Mentoring .     .     . .           24

Taking the First Steps Towards Establishing the Mentor/Mentee Relationship .              25

Preparing for a Visit:

Before Entering the Classroom .     .              26

The Visit: Entering the Classroom .                 27

The Visit: In the Classroom .     .                  28

Two Essential Questions for the Mentor .            29

Interventions and Demonstrations:

When and How .     .     .              29

The Post-Observation Conversation .     .                   30

Why the Socratic Method?   .        31

For Further Information   .     .             35


Bibliography .     .     .     .                       36


A . Criteria for Healthy Waldorf Classrooms .     .     .     39

B . Seven Questions .     .     .                  43

C . Capacities, Skills and Support .     .      .         45


Rudolf Steiner had a strong vision for the future of humanity .   His every indication was for us as students of anthroposophy to continually strive to create cultural institutions where true individual freedom and diversity can live . Waldorf schools are a testimony to Steiner’s picture of an ever-alive and developing cultural community . Waldorf schools do not have the usual checks and balances found in educational institutions where school principals, headmasters/mistresses or department heads oversee the quality of the teaching .   Instead, each Waldorf teacher strives individually in the classroom and works with colleagues in a learning, educational community . This is done in accordance with his or her conscience and will . We Waldorf teachers are grateful to be able to work in freedom, a freedom where our own initiative and capacities allow us to be humanly creative .

What does this mean? Beginning with a thorough study of the Waldorf curriculum and then embracing the principal of “working out of anthroposophy,” a path of self development, the Waldorf teacher realizes one can never fully reach the ultimate or top level in one’s work . There is always more to learn . Each child, class or even decade changes previously known ‘ways’ of teaching . The Waldorf teacher continually strives to “read the moment” and create a lively class atmosphere for the students, where they feel known and challenged . Inherent in Waldorf teaching is working with the unfolding child in a conscious, open mode allowing the rigors and excellence of the class curriculum to develop capacities . With the help of working with the anthroposophical picture of the unfolding human being, Waldorf teachers try consciously to teach not for immediate results, but for the future, where lasting capacities and skills will serve the student for life .

Rudolf Steiner described teaching as an art . Waldorf schools respect and encourage differences in “styles” of each teacher . But, as with all fine artists, basic skills must be mastered and understandings become “second nature” before interpretation and inspiration take hold .

This sounds good in the ideal, but given the Waldorf school community without a hierarchical structure, where individual “freedom” in the classroom reigns, many questions arise .

  • How can we be assured in our school that the quality of the teaching and the depth of understanding of Waldorf education grow stronger each year?
  • How do we know what our colleagues are doing in the classroom?
  • What is the best way to support a new teacher?
  • Where can we go with our questions and inevitable struggles as teachers?
  • Are there agreements we can reach as an Association on best principles of mentoring and basic benchmarks for each grade?

It was out of this thinking that the regional leaders of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America back in 2002 recognized the need to bring together, from all over the continent, experienced teachers who mentor for collaboration on professionalism in teaching in Waldorf schools .   There were then, and are now, schools with excellent mentoring and evaluation programs . There were and are schools that are struggling to exist . The Pedagogical Advisors’ Colloquium was founded to raise the awareness for the need for networking in strengthening mentoring and evaluation in all schools . In keeping with Steiner’s indications, mentoring, like teaching, is an art requiring certain basic understandings for a foundation .

It is our hope that the regional seminars and workshops on mentoring and evaluation that have grown out of the Pedagogical Advisors’ Colloquium will provide new enthusiasm for supporting and expanding programs in every school . Such programs assure parents and colleagues that a level of professionalism lives in the school .

We hope this booklet, written from our findings, will serve mentors and school faculties in “raising the bar” and deepening the support for Waldorf teaching .

– Virginia Flynn

find the whole booklet here: WorkingTogetherMentoringAWSNA