The journey of mentoring

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” – Steven Spielberg.

In educational terms, mentoring is about supporting and facilitating the development of teachers. This might sound straightforward but, in practice, it requires a far more complex combination of skills, intelligences and personal traits. In order to draw the best out of learners, Edufundi’s mentors focus on improving the classroom practice of teachers by using Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion programme.

Through regular observation, feedback and coaching, teachers are equipped with a set of tools (techniques) that will assist them when it comes to improving classroom management as well as with their lesson planning and presentation.

“The opportunity of being in the classroom is what I most love about my position as a mentor because it warms my heart to see how the TLAC techniques impact on the relationship between the teacher and learners.” – Western Cape Intermediate Phase Mentor Sylvia Moodley (above)

The techniques are simple, practical and adaptable and have been designed to immediately achieve increased learner engagement and meaningful assessment. However, in order for positive change to be effective in the long term, it is vital that there is also a fundamental shift in thinking and belief, although this presents a major challenge.

A masterful mentor is someone who is able to see the mentee as he/she is as well as what he/she can become, but an even greater role for the mentor is to be able to hold up a mirror for the mentee to recognise their future potential in themselves. The mentor then provides the bridge and guides the mentee towards their full potential. In order to achieve this, a deep level of trust and respect has to be built up over time between the mentor and their mentee.

The current system’s inability to support teachers effectively has left teachers feeling as if they have been left to just ‘get on with it’, and a sad consequence of this state of affairs is that teachers have become accustomed to working alone. The classroom is a sacred space for teachers and they view their work as highly personal… but because they learn to operate autonomously it results in them treating any outside intervention with skepticism.

A masterful mentor is some-one who is able to see the mentee as he/she is as well as what he/she can become…

This sense of distrust is something Edufundi mentors appreciate deeply as they themselves are also teachers… and it’s why they feel so honoured when mentees allow them into their world. The Edufundi mentors understand how uncomfortable it is at first and how brave the mentees need to be.

Mr D. Naidu from KwaZulu-Natal shares what most new mentees feel when he said: “I’ll be honest, at first it was intimidating – I think in the first few lessons I wished my mentor was not around.”