Mentoring Newsletter

A guide to working with mentees at your school site

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February 2022

Hello, BPS mentors.

I hope your 2022 is off to a healthy start! Many of you may have picked up new mid-year hires to support. Please refer back to how the mentoring process looked in August and, as always, "Maslow before Bloom."

I have packed a lot of helpful information into this edition, so thank you for taking the time to read it. District-wide, you are supporting 570 mentees at this time -- 261 of them on temporary certificates. Please make sure your induction rosters are accurate and up-to-date! We could not have the success we have without your commitment to the mentoring and induction program.

Suggestions for your area of focus right now:

1. Personal: Celebrate Valentine's Day with a card, a cartoon, or a candy bar. Just pick up something at the grocery store and toss it into your book bag! This little token will mean a lot to your new teacher.

2. Professional: Assist in planning for your mentees upcoming formal observations. If the observation has already occurred, discuss the feedback and celebrate the progress and share strategies for improvement if needed.

3. Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment: Explore strategies for checking for understanding. With testing coming up soon, the new teachers may be inclined to rush through material without checking to see if students are learning.

4. Organizational Systems: Concentrate on the use of time -- instructional and time management beyond the classroom.

5. Students: Review the learning profiles of students and identify those who might need to be referred for special services.

6. Colleagues: Encourage new teachers to build-in time to meet with their colleagues to examine student work to strengthen and solidify grading calibrations. Help them decide what student work samples to bring to the table.

7. School Systems: Be sure that the new teachers are well informed and have accurate information about scheduling and teaching assignments for the upcoming school year as soon as it is available. Be mindful that rumors may start circulating around this time of year about possible changes.

8. Parents and Community: Ensure that the new teachers remind parents of the upcoming standardized testing. Help them develop a plan for letting parents know what they can do to help create a positive and productive testing environment.

*Special Educators: Help them use class work, individualized testing, literacy assessments, and all other available data to design scaffolding for student success on the upcoming standardized tests.

As always, thank you so much for all you do! 💚

- Bridget Reed

Breakdown and suggestions taken from Paula Rutherford's Just Ask Publications

We are on the upswing in the teacher's first year!

Please share this information with your new teachers.

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⭐⭐⭐Mentor/Mentee Spotlight ⭐⭐⭐

North/Central Area Alternative Learning Center

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"Bailey Herring has made great progress in the classroom considering this is his first-year teaching and has no formal teaching background. Being an assistant football coach with a BPS high school has served him well with building relationships with the students he teaches.

He understands the importance of proximity, praise, and our token economy system as a PBIS school. Bailey always embraces any new strategies I share with him and I have observed him in the classroom utilizing said strategies. Bailey Herring is an asset to our school and our students!"

-Shelly Sharpsteen, mentor

"Mrs. Sharpsteen has been a great mentor for the past five months. She has answered all the many questions I ask daily. Her advice and wisdom have helped me create the best possible learning environment for the students to be the most successful. It's people like her that make teaching a fulfilling career. Thank you, Mrs. Sharpsteen!"

-Bailey Herring, mentee


Palm Bay Magnet High School

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"Ashley has the with-it-ness and motivation to be a great teacher. She is a speedboat, who gleans new strategies and puts them into practice and she has a great relationship with her senior English students."

-Patti Fox, mentor

"Patti has been there for me from day one! She’s always happy to answer my questions and has really made my transition into teaching a pleasant experience."

-Ashley Rutz, mentee


Croton Elementary School

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"Ginger has shown tremendous growth as a teacher in the last year and a half and is a vital asset to the Kindergarten team. She has adapted to the new curriculum and the challenges of teaching during the pandemic. She collaborates with her Kindergarten team and has developed a connection to her students, the parents of her students, and her Croton family. Ginger is always open to ideas and advice on techniques to help her in the classroom. Being a mentor to Ginger has been a rewarding experience; she is not only my mentee but has become a very good friend in the process."

-Anita Shinn, mentor

"Anita welcomed me with open arms to Croton. Anytime I have had a question or needed a direction she has made herself available. Through Anita, I have made many connections that I know will help in my teaching career. I feel so fortunate to have such an incredible colleague/friend/mentor by my side."

-Ginger Dacus, mentee


****Challenging conversations**** Create a Third Eye

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As mentors we are often called upon to provide feedback. So how do we do this in a respectful and meaningful manner? Creating a “third point” can greatly assist as it helps shift the focus away from personal to external. Here are some proven tips from the Ontario Ministry of Education's new-teacher program:

Thinking about our scaling questions example may be helpful:
  • How did you do this morning? – personal

Instead try:

  • From 1 to 10, how was the lesson? – external, third point

Practical Ideas

Collaboration vs. “Face-offs”

If you and your colleague are sitting down for any planning, reflecting or problem solving conversation, position the chairs at 45 degree angle rather than directly facing each other. This is also a great set up for parent – teacher interviews where you can sit in this collaborative stance with student work on the table in front of you both as the third


Similarly, using hand gestures you can metaphorically place the problem or challenge in the physical space in front of you both during a learning focused conversation.

Observation vs. Impression

Often when we provide feedback without meaning to we imply judgement. Here is an example:

  • The students were out of control – perception, implies personal judgement

Instead try:

  • During the lesson four students left their seats – observation of behavior, third point

Avoiding “You Should”

As mentors we are often called upon for input and advice and certainly based on individual needs this is an important component of the consultant stance. That said, if there are two words we strive to avoid using in mentoring conversations they are “you should” – for example:

  • You should make sure everyone is listening and paying attention before you begin the lesson – feels like a command

Instead try:

  • Something that worked for me was using a signal to focus students before giving instructions – feels like an idea