Mentoring/Coaching the Veteran Teacher

Last week we talked about mentoring the new teacher and that your default behavior is to coach. This week we consider how to mentor the veteran teacher.

It’s likely that YOU are an experienced teacher. You have reached this point because you have a full repertoire of skills that you have used successfully. To perform the delicate dance of mentoring a colleague who is likewise seasoned requires sensitivity and a readiness to learn from them. A coach needs to approach this relationship with respect and appreciation.

Teachers who have years of experience have encountered many initiatives and are aware of what makes an innovation successful. They hold a wealth of wisdom that cannot be underestimated. They are leaders who influence the intimate workings of the school.

So it is critical to build a relationship first. Trust takes time and is initiated by active, respectful listening. And as with the new teacher, your default is to coach. If they are unfamiliar with coaching, be explicit about how coaches mediate thinking. Avoid giving the impression that you intend to change them though your styles and experiences may be different. Be aware of your tone and demeanor.

Discover what they value and offer abstracting paraphrases. Offer to observe a lesson and collect data on an area of their choosing. As your relationship grows, trust yourself to tap into their deep structure.

What beliefs do you hold about mentoring that are living through your work with the veteran teacher?