Newsletters


2018-02-08
Newsletter 146 - Mentoring & Coaching


Pete Jugmohan from the University of KwaZulu-Natal – Pietermaritzburg, School of Education and Development did research on the concepts of mentoring and coaching and recording the voices of the participating principals…here is a précis (paraphrase)

Abstract:

  • South African principals now face tremendous challenges leading and managing schools given the constraints of self managing schools
  • Professional development of teachers is an area that is in need of immediate attention
  • To help overcome school headship overload, a structured mentoring programme can be of benefit and this will allow for the creation of space for collective and distributed leadership as a way forward so as to win back and take ownership of the school environment.
  • Bartell (2005) argues that teachers who participate in mentoring programmes are more likely to stay in teaching.
  • Further to this, the criteria that used for the appointment of principals in the ex-DoE’s differed drastically.
  •  Added to this, was the influence or interference of the various Teacher Unions and the School Governing Bodies in the selection of the candidates to head the schools.
  • Transformation still remains the greatest challenge facing post apartheid education and racism still rears its ugly head from time to time.

Mentoring is increasingly seen as an effective way of helping people develop in their professional careers. Mentoring has also been described as the support, assistance, advocacy or guidance given by one person to another in order to achieve an objective over a period of time. It also provides a process that allows leaders to initiate productive relationships, identity and concerns, determine effective responses to resistance and empower others through collaborative learning. Levinson (1978) says that “in its most basic form mentoring is simply friendship with someone who is a little more experienced, who acts as a guide in regard to a new career, profession, job, or development state.” Merriam (1983 : 162) took this definition further and described mentoring as “a powerful emotional interaction between an older and younger person, a relationship in which the older member is trusted, loving, and experienced in the guidance of the younger.”

There are several pieces of legislation that deal with the need for employees to acquire knowledge and skills while at the workplace. Below I cite two Acts as examples:

The Skills Development Act No 97 of 1998 stipulates that:

· The workplace should be used as an active learning environment

· Employees should be provided with the opportunities to acquire new skills.

The Employment of Educators Act No 76 0f 1998 stipulates that one of the functions of the school principal is to assist educators, particularly new and inexperienced educators, in developing and achieving educational objectives in accordance with the needs of the school.

 

Comments from Principals thus far on what mentoring is and the role they see mentoring playing in the management of their schools …

“Mentoring is seen as one of the ways a school staff can work flexibly and creatively together to become a learning organization.”

“Structured mentoring if widely and wisely used in organizations can help teachers at different points in their working lives.”

“The role of a school mentoring programme must form part of the school’s overall development plan - lead and manage people, provide the right support and follow-up”

“If it is used well it can facilitate induction, career advancement, acquisition of new skills and problem solving. It will support capacity building within the school by providing valuable opportunities for contexualized learning.”

“Mentors can also assist mentees to deal with the challenges associated with a productive and meaningful worklife, especially in an era of unprecedented change”

“It brings about the required effective teaching and learning which in the long run culminates in the development of a school into a learning organization.”

“It lessens the duty of the HOD because all the teachers with problems are mentored by more experienced teachers.”

“Way of identifying potential in people and to then put them in senior position if someone is retiring” “Create a forum for junior staff to view professional development.”

“As a leader I believe that mentoring will speed up the development of future leaders”

“May motivate educators to remain in the teaching profession, educator stress may be alleviated, negative influence on learners learning may be reduced.”

 

Bartell (2005) argues that teachers who participate in mentoring programmes are more likely to stay in teaching.

 

When the principals were asked to comment on the benefits of mentoring for them as new principals, they went on to say that it …

“reduced feelings of isolation, stress and frustration/therapeutic benefits . Increased confidence, reflectiveness and self-esteem and created a safe place to talk about teaching challenges.”

“gave me the opportunity to reflect on the new role, and accelerated rate of learning. It also benefitted my own professional development since I am able to share common experiences.”

“improved my personal skills, including communication skills and improved technical expertise and problem analysis and to meet the changing needs of teachers and encouraged collegiality.”

“added value to my insights into current practice, and a greater awareness of different approaches to headship”

“gave support to me as the new principal to act as a catalyst for improving professional culture, teaching and learning.”

 

Comments on the value of mentoring in our ever changing educational system ….

“Can give stability to the changing scenario, since it brings trust, confidence and restores the way one looks at things.”

“A tool to ease resistance to change and new ideas as It leads to empowerment as an individual and benefits the organization.”

“Makes the organization self-reliant and teachers are able to face all challenges that they encounter at the workplace”.

“Improves staff interpersonal relations, where teachers will view each other as true colleagues they can lean on.”

“Assists both learners and teachers in career-pathing and educators to become reflective practitioners”

 “It could help to promote succession planning and through distributed leadership heads can increase levels of effectiveness and power in the school system.”

 

Comments on the role /value of communication in mentoring …

“As with any communication, face-to-face is best, telephone is good, written or electronic delivery your third choice.”

“Talking to people is time consuming but a worthwhile investment, particularly at the beginning when you are establishing a relationship. Real communication is two-way.”

“You will need to be available to participants and willing to listen and respond constructively to any concerns or issues that they raise.”

"To keep people actively involved schedule talks, discussion forums, workshops or webinars as part of your programme.”

“These may range from simple lunchroom presentations , self-organized social events, an on-line chat facility or blog to formal workshops.”

“People who feel that they are part of a programme are more likely to stay engaged.”

“As with any communication, face-to-face is best, telephone is good, written or electronic delivery your third choice.”

“Talking to people is time consuming but a worthwhile investment, particularly at the beginning when you are establishing a relationship. Real communication is two-way.”

“You will need to be available to participants and willing to listen and respond constructively to any concerns or issues that they raise.”

"To keep people actively involved schedule talks, discussion forums, workshops or webinars as part of your programme.”

“These may range from simple lunchroom presentations, self-organized social events, an on-line chat facility or blog to formal workshops.”

“People who feel that they are part of a programme are more likely to stay engaged.”

 

Choice of mentoring programme…

Mentoring may be a one-to-one relationship, but in a mentoring programme there is the advantage of being part of a group. Mentees benefit by sharing experience with peers since human beings love to belong. When making our way in the world, we begin by being part of an immediate family, we to join a circle of friends, professional associations, social groups so as to feel wanted and this gives us a sense of community or belonging. Belonging to or being part of a group sustains us on our journey through life and career. A carefully constructed mentoring programme is a natural breeding ground for a nurturing network.

 

Ways of mentoring suggested by the principals include …

· Informal conversations and these can happen by chance or by arrangement.

· Formal relationship in the form of a structured program.

· Peer mentoring and this could occur where two colleagues mentor each other.

· Reverse-mentoring, where executives are mentored by non-executives.

· Cascading mentoring occurs where each level of an organization mentors those below.

· Tiered Mentoring, where an individual transfer skills learnt through being mentored to their own mentoring relationship.

· Group mentoring, can be of an advantage since it creates the space for one mentor to meets with several mentees.

· Mentoring round-tables where peers interact in a group mentoring conversation.

· Mentoring circles in a facilitated group, where each person mentors one person and is mentored by another.

· Mastermind mentoring where experts mentor a novice.