Mentor Teachers

Mentor teachers support and mentor student teachers. They use their professional judgment and knowledge to evaluate student teachers.

Curtis Farley  - Mentor Teacher - Archbishop Joseph MacNeil

 

I feel that it is the responsibility of every teacher to mentor new teachers. There are teachers who still give me support and encouragement and I think it is valuable to keep that going. When I look back at the end of a practicum and see how much my student teacher has grown. All of their confidence after such a short time is wonderful.

-Curtis Farley
Archbishop Joseph MacNeil

 

Roles and responsibilities

Mentor teachers:

  • provide student teachers with:
    • a designated workspace 
    • advanced notice of teaching, supervision, and extra-curricular responsibilities 
  • coach student teachers (STs) in:
    • planning, organizing and managing instruction
    • determining lesson plan and unit plan (AFX only) format and expectations
    • obtaining instructional resources and materials
    • understanding Alberta Education documents and expectations
    • assessing and evaluating student achievement
    • understanding student needs
    • using effective teaching strategies and skills
    • managing a positive learning environment
    • establishing relationships with students, parents, and colleagues
    • understanding professional conduct, responsibilities, and obligations
    • developing reflective practice
    • developing strategies for effective supervision (in conjunction with the school coordinator)
  • Assess student teacher progress 
    • In IFX (with the assistance of the zone field experience associate as required) by:
      • reviewing the growth plan and providing feedback
      • preparing a draft of the final assessment, in a timely fashion, in collaboration with the student teacher
      • submitting the electronic copy to the zone field experience associate to their uAlberta email
    • In AFX (with the assistance of the university facilitator, as required) by:
      • reviewing the growth plan and providing feedback (by Day 10 and Day 25)
      • preparing a draft of the final evaluation, in a timely fashion, to share with the university facilitator and revising as necessary
      • reviewing the final evaluation with the student teacher and submitting the electronic copy to the university facilitator to their ualberta email

Volunteering for a Student Teacher

If you wish to mentor a student teacher, share your interest with the principal and/or school coordinator at your school. School coordinators will register all mentor teachers by completing the online registration.

For more information, please contact a placement coordinator.

Criteria for Mentor Teachers
Mentor teachers play a critical role in the field experiences program as they coach, guide, and assess student teachers. In order to become a mentor teacher, teachers must have:
  • BEd (or equivalent)
  • permanent teaching certificate
  • three years of successful teaching practice
  • support of the school administration

Every effort is made to place at least two student teachers at a school, as it is better for the student teachers’ learning. If there is only one mentor teacher at a school, there is a reduced chance that student teachers will be placed at that location, unless the mentor teacher is willing to accept a dual placement of two IFX students.

Payment for Mentor Teachers

Typically, mentor teachers receive a small honorarium as a token of our appreciation for mentoring a student teacher.

To facilitate this payment, mentor teachers volunteering for a student teacher should indicate their payment preference on the recruitment form as either SELF or SCHOOL.

To receive the honorarium as a personal payment, mentor teachers should indicate SELF.  For teachers with Edmonton Public Schools or Edmonton Catholic Schools, this payment would be included on their regular paycheques.  For teachers in other jurisdictions, the payment would be sent as a separate cheque to the school.

To assign the honorarium to the school, mentor teachers should indicate SCHOOL on the form.  It is the applicant's responsibility to discuss with the principal or appropriate school administrator how these funds will be accessed by the teacher before selecting this option.

 

Supporting Student Teachers

The University of Alberta expects students in their IFX to:

  • Adhere to the ATA Professional Code of Conduct at all times
  • Provide an introductory email prior to the field experience
  • Attend all three observation days
  • Be present on all school days (IFX students are only allowed two days of unavoidable absence without jeopardizing their field experience)
  • Prepare detailed plans for all lessons in a timely fashion
  • Engage in ongoing professional conversations
  • Attend all meetings initiated by mentor teacher and/or zone field experience associate
  • Contribute to an extra-curricular activity within the school community
  • Assume responsibility for 0.5 FTE of the teacher’s assignment by the midpoint of the field experience

The University of Alberta expects students in their AFX to:

  • Adhere to the ATA Professional Code of Conduct at all times
  • Provide an introductory email prior to the field experience
  • Be present on all school days (AFX students are only allowed three days of unavoidable absence without jeopardizing their field experience)
  • Prepare detailed plans for all lessons in a timely fashion
  • Engage in ongoing professional conversations
  • Attend all meetings initiated by mentor teacher and/or university facilitator
  • Assume significant responsibility for an extra-curricular activity within the school community
  • Assume responsibility for 0.8 FTE of the teacher’s assignment by the sixth week of the field experience
  • Plan, develop, and deliver a minimum of one complete unit of study (including the assessment of students)
  • Demonstrate competency in each of the categories identified in the final evaluation Form

A mentor teacher’s feedback is critical to the success of the student teacher.

  • Feedback is most meaningful when there is an atmosphere of positive collegiality.
  • Observe Student Teachers in a variety of different contexts with a variety of different students.
  • Provide regular oral and written feedback.
  • Feedback should be descriptive and specific. Be clear on what the student teacher is doing well, as well as areas of potential growth.
  • Feedback should be based on the competencies required of students (as described in the evaluation documents).
  • Mentors should expect to see the student teacher use feedback provided in planning, instruction, and developing positive school relationships.
  • Be careful not to overwhelm the student teacher with too much feedback at once.
  • Focus on one area at a time, building to a comprehensive evaluation at the end of the field experience.
  • Based on feedback received throughout the field experience, student teachers should be well aware of strengths and weaknesses indicated on the final evaluation document.
  • Potential questions to ask student teachers to support their reflective and reflexive process can be found here.

In the IFX:

The IFX is an integral part of the field experience continuum.  The IFX final assessment document identifies areas of strength and areas for growth to assist student teachers in being successful in their AFX placements.
  • The final assessment form can be found under the Forms tab. 
  • Feedback provided throughout the field experience should be considered when completing the final assessment. 
  • The competencies listed on the document act as a guide in the assessment process.
  • Use the Suggested Language to Support Student Teacher Development document (under Forms tab).
  • The final assessment document that you will forward to the zone field experience associate will be watermarked "unofficial."

In the AFX:

The final evaluation document serves as a summative evaluation of the student’s field experience.

  • Evaluation documents can be found under the Forms tab.
  • Feedback provided throughout the field experience should be considered when completing the final evaluation.
  • The competencies listed on the document act as a guide in the evaluation process. Each category must be addressed, but mentor teachers do not have to explicitly reference each. 
  • Utilize specific examples from classroom teaching, extracurricular activities, and/or interactions with staff, parents, and students, wherever possible.
  • Please remember that student teachers will be using these documents to apply for professional positions. Use formal, academic language.
  • Ensure each section is filled out thoroughly, providing detailed information.
  • Create the evaluation document in consultation with the student teacher and the university facilitator, as appropriate.
  • The final evaluation document that you will forward to the zone field experience associate will be watermarked "unofficial."

Dealing with Problems

While all of our student seachers are developing as professionals and can be expected to require regular support and feedback, occasionally student teachers do not progress as expected and may fail to address the weaknesses in their performance identified by their mentor teachers.

If you believe this puts them at risk for not receiving credit for the course or for receiving a poor final evaluation, you will want to issue a Notification of Concern (NOC). This document is a formal tool to identify the supports provided thus far and to ensure that students are aware of the areas requiring improvement and establishes a plan to deal with areas of significant weakness. Typically the NOC is administered in cases where persistent problems have not been addressed, despite sufficient feedback from the mentor teacher, zone field experience associate, and university facilitator (AFX only).

While serious, the document is not intended to be punitive, and should focus on the improvements required to be successful. The document should identify:

  1. The specific areas of practice that need to be dealt with.
  2. A detailed plan for addressing the problem areas.
  3. A description of what will be considered an acceptable level of improvement.
  4. A target date for improvements (usually 3-5 days from issuance of a Notification of Concern).

The mentor teacher usually initiates the Notification of Concern, with the support of the zone field experience associate (IFX) or university facilitator (AFX) as required. The university facilitator and the mentor teacher should meet to issue the Notification of Concern to the student teacher. The school coordinator and/or field experience associate may also be involved, if desired. The Notification of concern is stored in the student’s file at the university, but does not become part of their permanent record.

If a student teacher does not satisfy the terms of the Notification of Concern in the prescribed period, various options can be considered, including the issuance of a second Notification of Concern, the extension of the target date, course failure, or the early termination of the placement. In these cases, the mentor teacher should consult with the university facilitator and/or field experience associate.

While the vast majority of our students are successful in their eield experience, occasionally a student’s involvement may in some way negatively impact your school community significantly enough that the placement should not continue. We respect that school principals must act in the best interest of their school communities and that they are able to unilaterally terminate a placement at their discretion. In such cases, we appreciate that this can be challenging work, so they should contact their field experience associate for assistance.

IFX Timeline

  • Review the materials on the website.
  • Review student teacher's introductory email.
  • Discuss the role of student teachers with your students.
  • Arrange to provide student teachers with class lists (with pictures if possible), timetables, seating plans, school handbook, attendance and emergency plan procedures, and student accommodations.
  • Provide student teachers with a work space.
  • Consider how student teachers will submit student grades and feedback.

Observation days are intended to assist student teachers to learn about and become comfortable with the context of their assigned school. Things to consider:

  • Arrange for observation in a variety of classrooms.
  • Have student seachers introduce themselves to the class, and perhaps lead a short activity.
  • Encourage student seachers to be engaged and actively involved in classroom activities and building relationships with students.
  • Provide direction regarding potential or planned teaching assignments for student teachers.
  • Support student teachers in becoming familiar with available resources.
  • Have student teachers assist with individual or small groups of students. 
  • Allow student teachers to observe you teach a variety of lessons.
  • Engage in professional reflective conservations with the student teachers. 
  • Assist student teachers with gathering materials for teaching. (program of studies, resources, information about students, and assessment strategies.)
  • Ensure student teachers are aware of extracurricular opportunities.
  • Discuss and agree upon lesson plan format and expectations, including when your student teachers should submit their lesson plan to you.
  • Support student teachers in planning and delivering single lessons.
  • Provide feedback to support the student teachers prior to, and after they deliver their lessons.
  • Ensure student teachers assist with supervision.
  • Allow student teachers observe in other classes.
  • Continue with existing guidelines/expectations.
  • Increase teaching time of student teachers to at least 0.25 FTE (full-time equivalent). With your support, have them take on responsibility for planning, preparing, and delivering lessons.
  • Provide feedback to support student teachers prior to and after they deliver their lessons. 
  • Support student teachers with the development of their growth plan. Growth plans should be completed by the end of day 10.
  • Issue a Notification of Concern if warranted. Ideally, if necessary, a Notification of Concern would be issued prior to the 50% withdrawal deadline.
  • Continue with existing guidelines/expectations.
  • Gradually have student teachers assume responsibility for 0.5 FTE of your teaching load by the end of day 15.
  • Allow student teachers to assume the responsibility of teaching independently. Be readily available to them.
  • Continue with existing guidelines/expectations.
  • Ensure student teachers maintain a minimum of 0.5 FTE.
  • Continue with existing guidelines/expectations.
  • Gradually, resume control of the class.
  • Ensure student teachers hand in graded work and assessments.
  • Collect all teaching resources that have been borrowed by student teachers.
  • Meet with student teachers, on or before day 23, to review their growth plan.
  • Complete the final assessment with collaboration from student teachers to create goals and strategies for ongoing development.
  • Email the final "unofficial" assessment form as a Microsoft Word document to the zone field experience associate.

AFX Timeline

  • Review the materials on the website.
  • Review introductory email of the student teacher.
  • Discuss the role of the student teacher with your students.
  • Arrange to provide the student teacher with class lists (with pictures if possible), timetables, seating plans, school handbook, attendance and emergency plan procedures, and student accommodations.
  • Provide the student teacher with a work space.
  • Consider how the student teacher will submit student grades and feedback.  
  • Meet with the school coordinator regarding possible extracurricular involvement, weekly meetings, and orientation activities.
Over the course of the practicum, ensure the student teacher has opportunities to demonstrate the competencies indicated on the final evaluation form. Develop a plan to support them in each of these area.
  • Introduce the student teacher to classroom and school routines, procedures, and expectations; i.e., attendance; areas of the school; emergency procedures; etc.
  • Discuss and agree upon lesson and unit plan formats and expectations, including Planbook.
  • Discuss field experience expectations with the student teacher, school coordinator, and university facilitator.
  • Identify the classes and units that the student teacher will be assuming responsibility for and help them collect programs of study, resources, lesson plans formats, and appropriate strategies for assessment.
  • Provide opportunities for the student teacher to assist with individual or small groups of students and classroom routines; discuss observations.
  • Support student teacher in planning and delivering single lessons, and or/parts of lessons to various sized groups, including the whole class.
  • Co-plan and/or team-teach lessons with the student teacher.
  • Help the student teacher begin to assume some of the mentor teacher's responsibilities, in and out of class, up to 0.5 FTE by day 11.
  • Engage in ongoing professional, reflective conversations and meetings with the student teacher.
  • Assist school coordinator in making student teacher aware of opportunities for extracurricular activities.
  • Ensure that appropriate and supported supervision responsibilities are assigned.
  • Arrange for observations in other classrooms.
  • Meet with the university facilitator.
  • Continue with existing guidelines/expectations.
  • Have the student teacher assume more responsibility for planning and delivering single lessons to the whole class.
  • Give support in lesson and unit planning; share models of exemplary lesson and unit plans.
  • Review student teacher growth plan by day 10 and collaboratively, with student teacher, develop goals and strategies for remainder of AFX. 
  • Be present in the classroom to observe and provide oral and written feedback to the student teacher.
  • Discuss with the student teacher the support provided through the ongoing professional conversations; i.e., frequency; type of feedback; etc.
  • Issue Notification of Concern if warranted.
  • Continue with existing guidelines/expectations.
  • Have the student teacher assume more responsibility for instruction; up to 0.5 FTE of a full load by the end of day 15.
  • Be present in the classroom to observe and provide oral and written feedback to the student teacher.
  • Issue and/or monitor Notification of Concern if warranted.
  • Continue with existing guidelines/expectations.
  • Continue to increase teaching responsibilities (to 0.8 FTE by day 25).
  • Be readily available even when the student teacher is left in charge of the class.
  • Issue and/or monitor Notification of Concern if warranted.
  • Continue with existing guidelines/expectations.
  • Discuss and revise the existing student teacher growth plan by day 25.
  • Issue and/or monitor Notification of Concern if warranted.
  • Continue with existing guidelines/expectations.
  • Increase teaching load to 0.8 FTE.
  • Issue and/or monitor Notification of Concern if warranted.
  • Continue with existing guidelines/expectations.
  • Continue with existing guidelines/expectations.
  • Initiate your plan to transfer the teaching load from the student teacher back to you.
  • Ensure the student teacher follows school protocol for reporting student progress.
  • Review and discuss final evaluation form with the student teacher and university facilitator.
  • Continue with existing guidelines/expectations.
  • Reduce student teacher workload over the course of the week as units are completed.
  • Ensure all student work and teaching resources borrowed from the school are returned.
  • Revise and complete the final evaluation form.
  • Include student teacher comments on final evaluation form.
  • Email the final evaluation form as a Microsoft Word document to the university facilitator.

Be an Effective Mentor

The Importance of Being a Mentor

Professional Reflective Practice

Professional Reflective Practice in Action

Relationship Building

FAQ

Placements
 

Program match is of most importance when placing secondary students. For elementary students, we match students to schools. Schools will, in turn, match students with teachers depending on classroom needs. When those priorities are met, the placement coordinators will then consider student preferences and the area in which they live. Every effort is made to place student teachers in cohorts of at least 2.

It is possible for a student teacher to be placed in their high school if five years have passed since they have graduated.

Registration for a student teacher can be done by registering online through your school coordinator.

Field Experience
 

If a mentor teacher encounters a serious problem with their student teacher, they should discuss the problem with their university facilitator (for AFX) or their field experience associate (for IFX). 

If problems arise prior to or during the field experience which necessitate withdrawal from student teaching, please advise the field experience associate immediately (at 1-107 Education Centre North, 780-492-3659) as well as the university facilitator (for AFX).