If you’re about to embark on your teaching placement, it’s important to be prepared. You don’t just need to be ready for the students, either; it is worth preparing yourself to make the most out of this opportunity and learn as much as you can.
A large part of this is building a strong relationship with your mentor teacher. This person will be able to guide and support you through your placement and can help make the experience as beneficial as possible. In addition to this, having strong relationships and networks will be invaluable when it comes to looking for a job, as they can provide both advice and information as well as a reference statement!
Here are seven tips that you can use to build the strongest (and most beneficial) relationship that you can with your mentor teacher while you are on your teaching placement so that you can make the most out of this opportunity.
Make an effort to get to know your mentor teacher.
The critical first step in building a relationship with anybody is to learn more about them. Try to get to know your mentor teacher as best you can, and make sure to express your interest and enthusiasm for their interests and work.
Every teacher will have parts of their work that they are passionate about. Teachers are always trying something new or really involved in a certain part of teaching. By learning about these things that your mentor teacher finds valuable you won’t only build a relationship with them, but you will learn an awful lot as well.
Getting to know your mentor teacher on a personal level will also help you get a broader perspective of the profession. What kinds of people are teachers when they finish work? How do they feel about their job and the people around them? All of these are valuable learning experiences that will open up more and more as your mentor becomes more open with you.
Establish open communication with them.
One of the most important things you can do to build a strong relationship with your mentor teacher is to establish open communication. Communicating openly and honestly with them is a foundational element of any relationship, but especially a mentoring relationship.
You need to be able to ask your mentor for help and advice, which means that you need to be honest with them. It is difficult for anyone to admit when they’re struggling or don’t know something, and teachers are notoriously bad at this.
You also need to be willing to listen to their advice. Make sure to ask for their input on a regular basis, and be receptive to the feedback they offer. It can be hard to hear sometimes, but opening clear and open channels of communication will help you build a relationship with your mentor as well as help you improve your teaching while you’re on your teaching placement.
Ask for their advice and feedback.
This is what your mentor teacher is for! You are put into a school to do your teaching placement under the supervision of a mentor teacher so that you can ask for advice and feedback.
Your placement is a time to make mistakes and grow, and your mentor is there to help you through this process. Mentor teachers really appreciate pre-service teachers who initiate this conversation, and it shows great initiative and willingness to learn.
By opening up this dialogue by explicitly asking for advice and feedback, you are sure to leave a good impression on your mentor teacher.
Be respectful and listen attentively.
One of the most important things you can do to build a strong relationship with your mentor teacher is to be respectful and listen attentively. When you communicate with them, make sure to give them your full attention and avoid interrupting them.
Show interest in their advice and feedback, and be willing to take it to heart. This means actually acting on it! You need to be prepared to try new things on your placement, and you don’t want to leave a bad impression on your mentor teacher by doubling-down on strategies that you like but aren’t effective in this context.
Follow their guidance and recommendations.
Even if you don’t understand why your mentor is giving you the advice or instructions that they are, make sure that you try to follow them.
You’re a pre-service teacher at this point. Yes, you’ve been studying and may have even done a teaching placement before, but your mentor teacher will be the expert on this student in this class in this school.
There are also some aspects of teaching that aren’t explicitly taught at universities that are useful for you to learn as quickly as possible. Things about what the school leadership team wants you to prioritise may not even be written down in official policy, so you need to make sure that you’re listening.
Show interest in learning from them.
Ask your mentor teacher questions, even if they don’t seem relevant! Ask them about the other aspects of teaching that you aren’t explicitly covering during your teaching placement, such as what it’s like getting a job and how they decided that they wanted to be a teacher.
As a teacher, you want to be always learning. Being curious and showing an interest in your mentor teacher’s experience and knowledge will make sure that you get the most out of your experience and build a strong relationship with your mentor that can continue long after your teaching placement has finished.
Express appreciation for their help
One of the most important things you can do to build a strong relationship with your mentor teacher is to express appreciation for their help. Teaching placements can be challenging, and your mentor teacher is doing their best to help you navigate through it. Thank them for their guidance and advice, and let them know how much you appreciate their support. This will go a long way in building a strong relationship with your mentor teacher.
By following these tips, you can build a strong relationship with your mentor teacher and make the most of your teaching placement. When you have a positive relationship with your mentor teacher, it can make the teaching placement much more beneficial.
Do you have any tips for building a strong relationship with your mentor teacher? Let us know in the comments below!