Week 15: Mentoring


Tonights session was primarily concerned with the duty of mentoring and how that can differ between various roles within education. The starter was a follow on from last weeks session, which was about the function of Learning Support Assistants LSA’s and their invaluable role and impact on learners with learning difficulties and other educational needs. Individually, we had to write down a short list about what forms of ‘Initial’ and ‘Diagnostic’ methods and/or systems are in place to assess the needs and requirements of the learner.

An initial assessment, could be as simple as obtaining the prior learning assessment from the learners secondary school; an analysis and follow-on could provide an overall picture. Another form of assessment could be a group activity to measure the learners social dynamics. Assessment of Learning is pivotal in understanding what requirements, each and every single learner may require to enable the best chance of equal learning and development.

Speaker: Frances Lovett

Tonight we had a speaker who guided the class through the roles and responsibilities of a mentor. It started with a quote from a leading academic in the field of mentoring and coaching, Eric Parsloe:

“Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.”

A quick translation – “Help them help themselves” 

One of the tasks was that we had to list our thoughts of what the role of mentor details; the entire class listed the various key points, most were quite logical, such as being ‘objective’ and ‘encouraging’. There were a few fundamental points raised; these were, ‘knowing the infrastructure and wider support framework, within their organisation’ and ‘having an approachable and supportive presence’. Once we conferred as a group and discussed the answers, we were then introduced the GROW mentoring/coaching model; which according to some preliminary research, there is dispute over who devised this model. However, as models go, it is a simple and logical acronym; you identifying goals, assess current state, analyse different routes, then finally actualise them. Please see below, my visual interpretation of the GROW model.

An exercise, that put into action our learning, was a role playing activity. For this, one of us took on the role of a learner with specific welfare/pastoral needs, another was acting as the mentor, then two were assigned the roles of observers.

The scenario: An eighteen year old student was pressured by family to quit college, so they could earn money to bring into the home. An ultimatum was given that if they did not quit college, then they would be evicted from their home.

• The initial advice provided, was to discuss the issue with the parents at the next available parents evening.
• The student stated that this would take too long, where they could be evicted.
• This then evolved into further advising the student to go and see student support after the lesson to then elevate the matter through the correct services.
• To reassure them, the support was put into action, where the mentor would go with them immediately to seek advice.

My mentoring was observed as being positive, with just my vocabulary commented upon, where it was perceived as being too professional and not compassionate enough. Offering the student, different avenues of advice was noted, where an achievable and actualised solution could be actioned. With mentoring, it is about knowing your limitations as an advice giver and knowing about the institutes support infrastructure, where you can seek the correct support.

One of the sessions last exercises, was to brainstorm the various responsibilities associated with a ‘Personal Tutor’, ‘Teacher’ and ‘Course Team Leader’. We achieved this be working in three small groups, where on each table was a sheet of flipchart paper with each role. In our groups, we had to write down as many  responsibilities for our role in about two minutes; once complete we then rotated around, this enabled each group to formulate their answers for each role. It was clear that each role shared a few responsibilities, yet they were all very distinct in their primary pastoral function.

We played some dexterity and cognitive games. I’ll admit that I did not play ball so to speak.

• Work upon group profiling by using the template provided.

• Look into Belbins Team Roles

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