POSSIBLE CRITERIA FOR MENTOR SELECTION
By Barry Sweeny
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The following are some of the criteria for mentor selection that mentoring programs have used. Do not confuse the selection of mentors with the matching of mentors and proteges. Criteria for matching are not in this paper, but are to be found elsewhere on this web site. Some selection criteria, like "career ladder level", would only apply if your district has such a structure.
Most programs will use more than one of these criteria. This is can work well but caution should be observed to avoid conflicts between criteria, or to avoid making mentorship an exclusive "club" to which only the best can belong. Such an exclusive approach can create many problems in the egalitarian school culture and can actually be counter to the collaborative culture that mentoring tries to establish. For more details about what to do and what not to do in this regard, get the " Case Against Exclusive Mentor Selection Processes" available elsewhere on this web site. There is a link to that paper on the previous web page.
4. Principal recommendation. This can be tricky. Be very clear about what a principal's recommendation means. Is it "I recommend this person as an excellent mentor.", or "I will support this person with released time." or, "I don't object to this, it's OK". Be careful that it does not mean, "I want this person to be a mentor because I want the mentor to learn a lot more about good teaching." (Yes, it happens.)
5. Peer recommendations. This is a tricky area too. Peer recommendation should be made based on a judgment that the candidate has desired characteristics which the mentor program has defined. If this is done well you ask the very people who know who the best teacher are and, non-participants will eventually look at who the mentors are and say "She is a good teacher and should be a mentor."
6. Years of recent experience in teaching. Often a minimum of five years experience is required of mentors. I would not recommend using a greater number of required years of experience as this can exclude some of your most enthusiastic and currently trained teachers.
7. Self nomination. This is actually one of the best methods if carefully structured as follows:
NOTE: ELABORATE PLANS FOR SELECTION OF MENTORS ARE OFTEN SOON DISCARDED DUE TO THE TIME-INTENSIVE TASK OF CHECKING CRITERIA, MAKING DIFFICULT JUDGMENTS, AND OBSERVING TEACHING, PARTICULARLY IN THE SUMMER WHEN STAFF ARE NOT AVAILABLE FOR THESE ACTIVITIES.
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Barry Sweeny, Resources for Staff & Organization Development
26 W 413 Grand Ave. Wheaton, IL 60187 (630) 668-2605, E-mail [email protected]