Free article: Improving teacher recruitment and retention: part 1 Free article: Get ready to win strategic school improvement funding Reputation management for schools Experience shared: Effective mentoring Tackling bullying in schools - part one Aggression at work: Managing yourself and others Managing difficult conversations The art of influence: Creating the best outcome Change management and conflict Managing anxiety at work Interpreting data for 2017 performance Free article: Know your strengths Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectation Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence Free article: HR and the successful school: A case study Free article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress Free article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review Free article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement Free article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement Free article: Transforming a failing school Free article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision Free article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing Free article: The latest developments in education - January 2016 Free article: Managing uncertainty Free article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique Free article: The latest developments in education - September 2016 Free article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection Free article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty Free article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders Free article: The governing body as a critical friend Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectations Free article: The exam post-mortem Free article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility Free article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model Free article: Effective leadership builds effective teams Free article: Baseline assessment and SEND Free article: Deconstructing the link between SEND and poverty Free article: Making performance management count in school improvement Free article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust Free article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation Free article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser? Free article: Headteachers’ appraisal Free article: Making CPD work harder Free article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard Free article: The government's Prevent guidance Free article: Improving provision for the most able Free article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare Free article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools? Free article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment Free article: Actively promoting fundamental British values Free article: Raising boys’ achievement Free article: National standards of excellence for headteachers Free article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation Free article: CPD: Less measurement and more development Free article: Challenging 
the most able Free article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability Free article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom Free article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons Free article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance Free article: Four steps to school improvement Free article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership Free article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision Free article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence Free article: Getting personal  with CPD Free article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process Free article: Parent View — an update Free article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach Free article: Effective parental engagement

Free article: Improving teacher recruitment and retention: part 1

In the first part of a two-part article, Matt Bromley looks at ways to improve teacher recruitment and retention.

Free article: Get ready to win strategic school improvement funding

How do you make a successful bid for a slice of the government’s Strategic School Improvement Fund? Best Practice Network’s Liam Donnison asks two school leaders who have done so…

Reputation management for schools

PLMR’s Sam Dalton talks about how schools can manage reputational impact when a crisis hits.

Experience shared: Effective mentoring

Steve Burnage explores the professional development potential of a productive and focused mentoring relationship from the perspective of the mentor.

Tackling bullying in schools - part one

Bullying is defined as: ‘Behaviour by an individual or group, usually repeated over time, that intentionally hurts another individual or group either physically or emotionally’. This article looks at the…

Aggression at work: Managing yourself and others

Conflict management is a vital skill for managers. Schools have clear policies on managing aggression in the classroom and playground. In this article Louise Wingrove looks at dealing with it…

Managing difficult conversations

Some conversations are always going to be uncomfortable. In this article, Louise Wingrove looks at managing difficult subjects with care and confidence.

The art of influence: Creating the best outcome

Louise Wingrove looks at how being aware of your impact on others can help everybody get what they need.

Change management and conflict

Nazli Hussein looks at the causes of conflict and the best ways to deal with it, with the best outcomes for those involved.

Managing anxiety at work

With growing awareness about anxiety and the impact it can have on both pupils and members of staff, Louis Wingrove looks at some ways to tackle the problem in the…

Interpreting data for 2017 performance

Tony Powell looks at the three different ways that a school’s academic performance is evaluated.

Free article: Know your strengths

Can you make inspection an enriching learning process that is actually good for your school? Heather Clements of Best Practice Network offers some advice. 

Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectation

In this article, Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectation in their schools. 

Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence

Tony Powell outlines a step-by-step approach to support schools in achieving the accolade of ‘outstanding’ as defined by Ofsted.

Free article: HR and the successful school: A case study

Adrian Kneeshaw, Headteacher of Carlton Bolling College, gives a personal viewpoint of the benefits of bringing in the experts.

Free article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress

Steve Burnage discusses engaging with good practice in the leadership of teaching and learning.

Free article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review

Tony Powell reports on the findings of the final Rochford Review.

Free article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement

A high-performing leadership team is at the centre of any school improvement mission. But how do you go about creating an excellent SLT? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network asks…

Free article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement

Adrian Kneeshaw of Carlton Bolling school gives advice on how to focus school spending on improvement planning.

Free article: Transforming a failing school

Matt Bromley offers some advice on turning around an underperforming school in a short space of time while laying down the foundations for sustainable improvement.

Free article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision

Tony Powell explains how inspectors gather evidence and make judgements on the quality of alternative and specially resourced provision.

Free article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing

With concerns about mental health rising, what can schools do to help their pupils? Suzanne O’Connell outlines the advice available from the National Children’s Bureau and how it might be…

Free article: The latest developments in education - January 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Free article: Managing uncertainty

If you are struggling with a sense of uncertainty, be reassured: you are not alone. 2016 has been a year of upheaval, with the promise of big changes on the…

Free article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique

Tony Powell provides guidance on how to use discussion with pupils as a tool for self-evaluation.

Free article: The latest developments in education - September 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Free article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection

Tony Powell looks at how to use the feedback from your inspection in school improvement planning.

Free article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty

How can an expanding multi-academy trust ensure that school improvement doesn’t become a casualty of change? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network looks at the issue and offers some guidance.

Free article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders

Adrian Kneeshaw looks at how leadership is important to the success of the school, and how to lead effectively.

Free article: The governing body as a critical friend

In his second article on the headteacher and governor relationship, Tony Powell defines what is meant by a ‘critical friend’.

Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectations

Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectations in their schools.

Free article: The exam post-mortem

Matt Bromley considers how schools can learn from exam performance data and build this into school improvement.

Free article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility

With new safeguarding guidance released, it’s time to check your arrangements and update your staff.

Free article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model

This article outlines the Ofsted methodology for determining whether a school is ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.

Free article: Effective leadership builds effective teams

Steve Burnage offers advice on motivating staff, getting the best from them and building effective teams.

Free article: Baseline assessment and SEND

Suzanne O’Connell looks at a report on baseline assessment in primary schools and it’s affect on identifying children with SEND.

Free article: Deconstructing the link between SEND and poverty

DfE statistics show a clear link between SEND and children living in poverty. Suzanne O’Connell outlines some of the reasons for this, and recommendations for action, in a Joseph Rowntree…

Free article: Making performance management count in school improvement

What do you need to do to make performance management a watertight process that makes a real contribution to school improvement? Keith Wright has some suggestions.

Free article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust

Tony Stephens, of the Co-operative Academies Trust, looks at what is the best type of multi-academy trust for a school to join or establish.

Free article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation

David Birch explains how capturing the views of students can sharpen school self-evaluation and have a positive impact on your school improvement strategies.

Free article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser?

Frank Norris offers advice on how to choose the most appropriate school improvement partner to work with your school.

Free article: Headteachers’ appraisal

David Birch outlines best practice in the management of the headteacher appraisal process and offers advice for headteachers on how to make the most of appraisal in their own professional development.

Free article: Making CPD work harder

Professional development is a crucial factor in school improvement and improving pupil outcomes, but it could work harder, says Keith Wright.

Free article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard

There is a new inspection dashboard to go with Ofsted's new Common inspection framework. Tony Powell explains how it can be used.

Free article: The government's Prevent guidance

Suzanne O'Connell considers the guidance available regarding Prevent and school leaders' responsibilities.

Free article: Improving provision for the most able

Ofsted reports are making it clear. The DfE wants to see secondary schools challenging their most able students. In this article, Suzanne O’Connell summarises the criticisms and recommendations from ‘The…

Free article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare

Tony Powell looks at the new key area ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’ under the new Ofsted inspection framework.

Free article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools?

The mental health of children and young people is at the top of the agenda at the moment. Increased anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders are bringing some schools to crisis…

Free article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment

Tony Powell interprets government guidance on assessment to help schools support self-evaluation.

Free article: Actively promoting fundamental British values

Tony Powell advises on how schools can demonstrate that they are actively promoting fundamental British values.

Free article: Raising boys’ achievement

John Viner looks at research into boys’ underachievement and reviews some successful strategies.

Free article: National standards of excellence for headteachers

Tony Powell looks at the revised national standards for headteachers and how they should be used by schools.

Free article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation

John Viner explores ways to develop a culture of continual improvement in teaching through lesson observation.

Free article: CPD: Less measurement and more development

How can schools translate CPD into genuine improvement for staff? Keith Wright asked leaders to share their views, and discovered an emerging consensus about which approaches work best.

Free article: Challenging 
the most able

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Free article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability

Tony Powell looks at how the teachers’ standards can be used to evaluate performance and support improvement.

Free article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom

Since January 2014 there has been increased emphasis on the behaviour of pupils. In this article, Jim Donnelly offers advice on managing behaviour around the school.

Free article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons

David Birch offers advice on effective classroom management and argues that effective practice relies on a combination of the consistent application of agreed policy and the development of awareness and…

Free article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance

This is statutory guidance, which means that schools and colleges (including academies and free schools) must have regard to it. It contains what schools should do and what they must…

Free article: Four steps to school improvement

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Free article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership

Louise Wingrove gives practical advice on how to become a leader your team will want to follow.

Free article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision

Given that whole-school literacy is central to raising standards of achievement in schools and that it is a key focus for Ofsted, David Birch outlines some of the actions schools…

Free article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence

Teachers are good at gathering evidence of pupil progress, but many find it difficult to do the same with regard to their own professional development.  Keith Wright looks at the…

Free article: Getting personal with CPD

Less than a fifth of teachers in England’s schools think their continuing profession development (CPD) is any good, according to a recent survey. One of the keys to unlocking the…

Free article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process

Performance appraisal is crucial to school improvement, but many schools are still without a rigorous and transparent way of carrying it out, says Keith Wright. Here, he analyses the challenges…

Free article: Parent View — an update

Jenny Townsend looks at the importance of Parent View in achieving an outstanding rating in inspection, and how comments from parents are used by Ofsted.

Free article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach

Jenny Townsend explores how parental engagement can contribute to school improvement and in particular the role this can play in raising pupil achievement levels.

Free article: Effective parental engagement

Ofsted’s Parent View means that parents have a direct influence on the decision to inspect. Jenny Townsend examines why this matters to schools.

Experience shared: Effective mentoring

Published: Monday, 23 April 2018

Steve Burnage explores the professional development potential of a productive and focused mentoring relationship from the perspective of the mentor.

 Summary

  • Mentoring techniques are best used with colleagues who evidence clear commitment to their roles and a desire to improve.
  • Mentoring is most effective when:
  1.        a team member requests mentoring or is eager to engage
  2.        when it is suggested the team member has ownership of the mentoring process.
  • Effective mentoring sets SMART targets that are goal focused.
  • The benefits of an effective mentoring relationship are mutual.

Good mentoring stems from appropriate leadership

Although the focus of this article is on how to be an effective mentor, it is important to understand a little about leadership theory, because mentoring might not be suitable for everyone.

There are numerous theories about leadership styles, but it can be argued that all of them boil down to four clearly defined styles of leadership:

  1. The Dictator: Tells others what to do and does not seek their opinions.
  2. The Mentor: Shares a breadth of professional and personal experience so that others might learn and gain independence.
  3. The Coach: Assumes that colleagues know what to do, uses questioning to check understanding and then monitors progress to ensure task completion.
  4. The Delegator: Knows colleagues possess skills and understanding and that they can be trusted to complete tasks without leadership interference.

Colleagues benefit from being led in different ways dependent upon two key factors: their capability (how well they can do the job) and their commitment (how likely they are to complete a task set). Let’s meet four fictitious members of a team:

Sandra 

Sandra is an experienced member of the team who possess a wide range of skills, knowledge and experience. She completes any task asked of her to the best of her ability and on time.

Sandra is highly capable and has high commitment.

Bob 

Bob is also an experienced member of the team. While he has a wide range of skills, knowledge and experience, he is a bit disengaged and can’t always be counted on to meet deadlines or produce high-quality work.

Bob is highly capable but has low commitment.

Safia 

Safia is a new member of the team. She is eager to do a good job and, with support and guidance, completes all tasks to the best of her ability. She doesn’t have a breadth of skills, knowledge or experience yet, but she is eager to learn. 

Safia has low capability but has high commitment.

Sean 

Sean is on placement with the team and, unfortunately, things are not going well. He has very limited experience and doesn’t appear to care. 

Sean has low capability and has low commitment.

Each of our four team members needs to be led in a way that will enable them to flourish since, if they are led in the wrong way, at best we will stifle their ability to succeed and, at worst, we will set them up to fail. The table below (‘Pairing leadership style with capability and commitment’) shows the management style most suitable for each team member.

Mentoring is not appropriate for everyone but, for team members who are committed to their role and eager to learn, it can be a highly effective staff development tool.

p8 Diagram

Good mentoring is owned by the person receiving mentoring

Too often, mentoring is seen as something that is done to colleagues to improve or develop them. This is seldom effective. Effective mentoring is provided when a colleague identifies a development need, sets clear goals and has ownership of the process.

Motivation is what drives all of us to do anything: to get out of bed in the morning, go on a diet, ask someone out on a date or walk the dog. Motivation is most effective when it is intrinsic (when it comes from within) and less effective when it is extrinsic (imposed upon us). Motivation can also be seen on a continuum – it is seldom totally intrinsic or extrinsic.

However, for mentoring to be an effective development tool, colleagues must want to be mentored.

Effective mentoring: A simple five-step process

 This five-step mentoring process assigns ownership of the process to the person being mentored. Here’s how it works:

  • Step 1: Create a vision of your ideal future – write out your dream and be specific.
  • Step 2: Create goals from your vision – what are all the steps you will need to complete to achieve your goals?
  • Step 3: Set SMART goals – these are goals that help you understand exactly what you need to do.
  • Step 4: When setting goals, also identify obstacles.
  • Step 5: Create plans to counter each obstacle.

A smart goal could look like this: ‘At the end of every day I will produce an accurate “to-do” list of outstanding jobs to be completed the following day.’

  • This goal is specific, describing the end result in terms of what is expected and when it is expected.
  • This goal is measurable, describing the end result in terms of quality, quantity, deadline or cost.
  • This goal is achievable, setting a challenge, but one that can be fulfilled with the right amount of effort.
  • This goal is realistic, with practical and relevant conditions.
  • This goal is timely, as it is appropriate in terms of current needs and has a time frame making it clear how long the activity will last.

Mentoring a colleague using this fivestep process will enable them to identify a development need, set personal development goals, outline the steps needed to fulfil their potential and identify and overcome potential barriers.

What’s in it for the team leader?

If you are a busy team leader, can you afford the time and effort required to mentor when you already have plenty of other demands to cope with? Mentoring is not a case of ‘giving up’ your time and energy to helping others achieve their goals and solve their problems – it will also benefit you in a variety of ways, as outlined below.

A more committed team: When you make a genuine effort to include people in setting their own goals, making decisions and implementing their own ideas, they are likely to become more committed and focused.

Better team performance: Because of its dual functions of managing performance and developing people, mentoring leads to better individual and collective performance.

Better working relationships: Good mentoring promotes trust and collaboration, and leads to better working relationships.

Better ideas: When you get into the habit of giving ownership to colleagues, you may be pleasantly surprised at the quality of ideas people come up with.

Better information: If you are genuinely mentoring people in a collaborative, open spirit, they will feel more confident in coming to you with vital information, including telling you the ‘bad news’ while there is still time to do something about it.

Investing time to gain time: There is no doubt that in the short term it’s often quicker to ‘take charge’ and give orders instead of mentoring. That’s fine for ‘firefighting’, but in the long term, the more you direct, the more people will rely on you for directions, and the more of your time will be swallowed up by it. If you invest time in mentoring, however, over time your team will require less and less direction, and you will be confident in delegating more and more to them, freeing up your time for the tasks only you can accomplish.

The role of a mentor can be richly rewarding for any team leader. As well as developing a highly effective, innovative team who set their sights on their own professional development, agree clear goals and make a positive and valued contribution to your team. Being a mentor can also make a significant contribution to your own professional development and the satisfaction you receive from your role.

In the next article, we will explore mentoring from the perspective of the members of our teams:

  • What does a good mentoring relationship look like?
  • Who does what?
  • Owning the process and taking responsibility for the outcomes.
  • What to do when things don’t go to plan.

Toolkit

Use the following items in the Toolkit to put the ideas in the article into practice:

About the author

Steve Burnage has a breadth of experience leading challenging inner-city and urban secondary schools. He now works as a freelance trainer, consultant and author for senior and middle leadership, strategic development, performance management and coaching and mentoring. Steve may be contacted by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via his website www.simplyinset.co.uk.

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