Mentor Standards for Teachers in England – links to the UKPSF

The word mentor written on a chalkboard

Mentoring – providing a guiding hand

This is the second two-part blog-post about ‘mentoring’.  This second post stems from my engagement in and completion of an online mentoring course aimed at mentors of trainee teachers and newly qualified ones against the Mentor standards (downloadable from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/initial-teacher-training-government-response-to-carter-review). I’ve thought about how these standards could apply to the UKPSF and Fellowship categories.

AN ONLINE COURSE FOR MENTORS – WHAT’S THAT ALL ABOUT?

In December 2016, I caught a tweet from Sue Beckingham (@suebecks), advertising an online course that Sheffield Hallam University would be starting in January 2017 about supporting mentors. In delivering the course, the team were using Pebblepad as its platform and while the course was focused on mentors of teachers in the primary and secondary education sectors, I decided to give it a go! I wasn’t just interested in what issues these mentors would be facing and what I could learn to apply to the ‘mentors’ that SALT works with in advising HEA Fellowship applicants. I was also interested in how Pebblepad could be used in this way, the planning and delivery of an online course and how I might be able to use a similar method here at Swansea. A feel another reflective piece emerging here….

But let’s focus in this one. The mentoring course was delivered both synchronously if you were able to participate ‘live’ and also asynchronously over a five week period. Structured Workbooks in Pebblepad were developed by the course team, with text, readings, embedded videos/audio and tasks for reflection. There were weekly webinars, top tips, discussion points using ATLAS – the linked assessment space to Pebblepad – and optional tweetchats. You were encouraged to complete it in 5 weeks, but the recording of the webinars and Storifying of the Tweetchats enabled students to complete at a more convenient time to them and over a longer period. Audio files and videos were transcribed which was a great accessibility feature which Pebble Learning has addressed through its full html version (which we’ll be switching to at Swansea over the summer 2017). This seemed to be an approach that had been developed in previous years and used by a number of disciplines at SHU. (More details on the pedagogy on their blog)

The course content covered the currently optional mentor standards in England, guiding those mentoring student teachers and/or those gaining NQT.

Following an initial induction, the topics for the remaining 4 weeks were naturally framed around the mentoring standards:

Standard 1 – Personal qualities  – the vital importance of establishing trusting relationships, modelling high standards of practice, and empathising with the challenges a trainee teacher faces.

Standard 2 – Teaching  – Supporting trainee teachers to develop their teaching practice in order to set high expectations and to meet the needs of all pupils.

Standard 3 – Professionalism  – Inducting the trainee teacher into professional norms and values, helping them to understand the importance of the role and responsibilities of teachers in society.

Standard 4 – Self-development and working in partnership  – Continue to develop the new teacher’s own professional knowledge, skills and understanding and invest time in developing a good working relationship within relevant ITT partnerships.

HOW DOES THIS COURSE RELATE TO THE UKPSF/FELLOWSHIP EXPECTATIONS?

Staff likely to be eligible for HEA Senior Fellowship recognition include those “able to provide evidence of a sustained record of effectiveness in relation to teaching and learning, incorporating for example, the organisation, leadership and/or management of specific aspects of teaching and learning provision”.  They may be “experienced subject mentors and staff who support those new to teaching;” (HEA Website)

I reflected on several topics that were relevant to the UKPSF and satisfying the relevant fellowship criterion.  I’ve summarised them in the table below.  But remember that being a mentor of teachers in the primary of secondary sector isn’t eligible as leading others for HEA Senior Fellowship.  But there are many principles that can be adapted to an HE context for those mentoring teachers or staff supporting learners.  Comments welcomed on my cross referencing!

(Please click image below to view my mapping)

Mentorstandards UKPSF Mapping

SO WHAT?

Participating in this online course

  • Enriched my subject knowledge in an area slightly tangential to what I’m involved in;  It challenged me to think about how these standards applied in the HE environment and so made me consider more carefully the language and terminology used in my exemplars so that they could be understood by a wider audience and the course team marking my submission.
  • Challenged me to consider what literature was relevant to staff considering further development as mentors;
  • Enabled me to recognise communalities between those mentoring staff new to teaching in HE and how leading in this area might provide some of the evidence necessary for demonstrating HEA Senior Fellowship attributes;
  • Made me realise that the CPD challenges remain the same for those in HE – finding appropriate time to do it and recognise there are informal and formal approaches to CPD.
  • In mentoring we can apply a ‘coaching approach’ with more direction in the initial phases of someone’s career – show them how to do it, then fostering independent learning/practice by deepening their awareness of relevant literature and alternate practices.Going along to a workshop or seminar.
  • Provided fantastic CPD opportunities with greater reading and information exchange via the webinars and Twitter and also
  • Enhanced my community of practice, both through these online approaches to supporting learning (becoming aware of the Staff Development Forum, but also in the use of the discussion board option in ATLAS – the Conversations.

From a delivery point of view:

  • enabled me to sympathise with the difficulties participating in what was a  5 week course – but in practice took me 10 weeks to complete
  • I recognised the issue regarding design of the online resource and its delivery and the value of the synchronous versus asynchronous engagement – the recorded webinars and storify option of the Tweetchats are great, but the buzz from the online participation is infectious and something difficult to convey in the storify ‘artefact’.

NOW WHAT?

There remains lots to do as a result of this course:

  1. signposting to the relevant literature for our mentors.
  2. continuing to connect and promote coaching and mentoring
  3. still trying to find a convenient time to have that World Cafe style event that I mentioned in Mentoring blog Post #1 and/or promoting our network of mentors to get together, part of Mentor Standard 4: Self-development and working in partnership.
  4. Have I got the mapping of the Mentor standards to the UKPSF and Categories of Fellowship right?

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Mentoring course at SHU: https://blogs.shu.ac.uk/mentorshooc/ or Twitter: @mentorshooc hashtag #mentorshooc

Mentor Standards in Initial Teacher Training https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/536891/Mentor_standards_report_Final.pdf

UKPSF: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ukpsf

Coaching or mentoring in HE  (in particular if you are interest in gaining experience for eligibility for Senior Fellowship of the HEA)

Staff Development Forum https://sdf.ac.uk/ and its Friday lunchtime 12 – 1 p.m monthly Tweetchats on Coaching @SDFACUK

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