Mentor Minute

Focused on the Support and Development of District Mentoring

Why Mentor?

Teachers can be taught how to create magic!
Christopher Emdin: Teach teachers how to create magic

It's NOVEMBER: How can I support my Mentee?

  • Check-in. Continue to use the Check and Connect (previously named the CAL) that was shared in the last two Mentor Minute newsletters to continue exploring what is working and what is not working. Discuss next steps and determine how you can be of support! Give the completed Check and Connect to your Mentee and keep a copy for yourself. It may be helpful to look back at the Check and Connect from time to time. Encourage your Mentee to keep a folder of the tools (like the Check and Connect) that you have used with him/her (or better yet, store these completed tools in an evaluation binder in the section that has evidence for Standard 4: Professional Growth and Responsibilities). Over time this collection of all of the tools that have been used with your Mentee will allow the both of you to look back on areas of growth over time!
  • Reflect on grade reporting and next steps! By now you and your Mentee have either wrapped up your first quarter or you are headed to the end of the first trimester. What do these grades mean for your mentor? What patterns can the two of you see by taking a closer look at failures? What are some next steps for struggling students and for those who are excelling and may need an extra challenge? Was there anything that did not work out as planned with grading (too many or too few assignments, percentage or weight of grades, grading students with IEPs, etc,.)?
  • Ellen Moir, director of The New Teacher Center, whose work is devoted to supporting new teachers, shares in her article Phases of First-Year Teaching that first-year teaching is a difficult challenge. Moir states that equally challenging is figuring out ways to support and assist beginning teachers as they enter the profession. Since 1988 the Santa Cruz New Teacher Project has been working to support the efforts of new teachers. After supporting nearly 1,500 new teachers, a number of developmental phases have been noted. While not every new teacher goes through this exact sequence, these phases are very useful in helping everyone involved -- administrators, other support personnel, and teacher education faculty--in the process of supporting new teachers. These teachers move through several phases from anticipation, to survival, to disillusionment, to rejuvenation, to reflection; then back to anticipation. Click here to take a closer look at Moir's article and the stages through which new teachers move during that crucial first year


  • If you have taken the time to read Ellen Moir's article about the phases of first-year teaching, you know that more than anything your Mentee may need a little TLC this month. Providing emotional support is an important part of coaching. Mentees may need to validate their feelings of exhaustion, being over whelmed, and the stress of balancing work and home. A listening ear and a bit of empathy may go a long way! Be careful not to provide emotional support in the absence of teaching and learning support. It can be easy for a Mentee's emotional needs to hijack your time together which ultimately takes the focus off of the students. Try your best to keep your support balanced. If you find that you are struggling with this balance, please reach out to our mentor professional learning community for some extra support!


This month try capturing important classroom conversations using the Student/Teacher Dialogue Tool. This tool, which is set up in a simple t-chart format, can be used in many ways.

  • Perhaps after reflecting on Standard 3, your Mentee is encouraged to learn more about their communication with students. Use this tool to record teacher questions and student responses. Pick a start and end time to your scripting so that you are not overwhelmed with the amount of writing required collecting this type of engagement. With your Mentor plan out what part of the lesson you will script. After the lesson, spend time evaluating the level of questioning and the clarity, rigor and depth of student responses. Ask your Mentee to rate their level of questioning. Discuss ways to turn recall or simple questions into more open ended responses or high level questions.
  • You may also use this tool as a way to show teacher to student ration of talk. Script for a determined amount of time. Then use the script to reflect with your Mentee. Ask: What do you notice when you look at this script? What does this script say about the amount of time you are speaking vs the amount the students are speaking? How might we work to shift this ratio?
  • Use this tool to capture wait time or frequency of words or phrases (for example, I once mentored a new teacher who said "yous guys" constantly when speaking to students and another teacher who often said "this is my last warning" repeatedly!)
  • This tool is a great way to incorporate Blooms, DOK, and/or the evaluation rubrics to assess the level of questioning happening in your Mentee's classroom. Many questioning resources were shared at our most recent PD session.

Higher Order Questions: A Path to Deeper Learning

Click on the title above to watch a lesson that helps students build higher order thinking skills. This middle school literature lesson is aligned with ELA Common Core and is teaching students to analyze how a section in a text fits into the overall theme, in addition to learning how to cite textual evidence to support analysis of text.


This month, let's focus on 1 simple goal:

  • If you have not already done so, it's time to break out the evaluation rubrics and support your Mentee through self-assessment and reflection. Click here to view the Innovation Evaluation Model Descriptors of Practice/Rubrics or here to view Practice/Rubrics for Support Personnel. Encourage your Mentee to thoughtfully place themselves on the rubric and then together discuss their self identified strengths and weaknesses. This is a great time to set goals and plan next steps for those areas that are in need of growth. Start small and plan measurable steps. What support can you offer your Mentee in this area? Are you able to connect your Mentee to another colleague, share helpful resources, conduct an observation and/or share evidence based feedback? What will be the time line for these next steps and how will you both determine if your plan worked? What will be different for the students and for the teacher?
Big image

Kickin it Old School!

Grading student work and assessments has evolved over time and it is interesting to listen to the latest debates about the hows and whys behind grading! Last year, I had the pleasure of listening to Tom Guskey share his grading philosophy. If you ever find yourself with some free time, check him out!

In the mean time, enjoy this funny clip on a NON-Guskey approach to grading!

Mr. D

November PD: Dates, times, and location

This Mentor Minute IS our professional development. You are encouraged to read it thoroughly, utilize the tools, and share any helpful resources with your Mentees.

Monthly drop-in opportunities will be offered from 2:30-5:00 in Villa Nova to discuss anything pertaining to the Mentor Minute such as the tools. We might also use this time to reflect, problem pose/solve, plan, set goals, etc,. Please RSVP at any point leading up to that day so I know who and how many to expect. These sessions are NOT MANDATORY rather a resource to you should you need the support. If you are in need of immediate support or can not make one of the dates listed below and would like to plan an alternative meeting, please email me at

  • November 12th
  • December 10th
  • January 14th
  • February 11th
  • March 10th
  • April 14th (13th for WHS and WACT Mentors)
  • May 12th

Quarterly meetings ARE MANDATORY and will also take place in Villa Nova from 2:30-4:30 for MS and HS Mentors and from 3:30-5:30 for Elementary Mentors. While during the first and last hour we will be in smaller groups, the middle hour will provide us with shared time during which we will meet as an entire group of district Mentors! You will receive an agenda prior our meeting.

Please mark your calendar with these dates:

  • January 7th

  • March 31st

  • June 2nd