The Important Role of Teacher Mentors in Education

Some may think that the aspiring teachers are the only ones that benefit from peer mentoring and coaching programs in education. However, the educators who are coaching these new teachers can learn a lot as well. As a teacher mentor, you gain an invaluable experience. By collaborating with colleagues and learning how to successfully and effectively advise novice teachers, a teacher mentor can gain more than imagined.

However, you can't just expect to teach a new teacher everything you know by simply reading a laundry list of points to remember. There are ways to develop and utilize effective practices for these new teachers as a helpful teacher mentor. As older teachers begin to retire it's important that the newer teachers are taught and mentored well because they will be an important part of the education system. These new teachers that are about to enter into all of the daunting responsibilities of the classroom need a support system that allows them to transition from theory to practice. Being a teacher mentor is an important role because mentoring new teachers can help them improve and strengthen their skills and practices and thus, keep them in the profession.

Teaching can be such a demanding and complicated profession. It's important for a teacher mentor to know that they can also learn a lot from mentoring. For example, veteran teachers need to remain current with new teaching methods, stay energized in the classroom, and experience periodic professional renewal in order to avoid burnout. Being a mentor can help with this. It helps to remember that all educators are lifelong learners and working in partnership with colleagues enhances classroom practices, improves student learning and builds school communities. So being involved with peer mentoring and coaching not only improves your well being, it helps students learn better as well.

There are a few things you can do to become an effective teacher mentor. It all depends on the methods used and on whether or not you identify and analyze the needs of the mentee in the mentor relationship. After identifying the needs, the mentor should review and research and then outline an effective plan that will meet their state mandates for an effective mentor program. One of the first things a mentor can do is to help make the mentee understand the school environment and culture.

The next step for a teacher mentor could be to help improve the skills needed for successful classroom instruction. Many new teachers may need assistance with classroom management skills with new guidelines to follow. Another issue that a novice teacher may need advice on is the issue of balancing work with their personal lives. These are all important issues to have a grasp on for a new teacher when he or she is about to enter the classroom. It's helpful to also use real life situations in order to give a new teacher ways to cope with the issue because they are bound to encounter the same.

Overall, it's important to remember that you can also learn a lot from your mentee. Keep the lines of communication open, even after the relationship is formally over, and be willing to listen, learn and practice new techniques.

Vince Welsh is CEO of Teacher Education Institute. TEI offers rigorous, graduate-level professional development courses for K-12 classroom teachers. For more about TEI or teacher mentor visit

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