Mentoring in education is a long-forgotten practice that is now taking on a new lease of life. At the same time, such concepts as a tutor or mentor remained in foreign educational institutions. Mentorship can be briefly described as the transfer of experience from the elder to the younger, where it is not about age but about accumulated knowledge.
This approach is practiced not only in schools, colleges, and universities. For example, this is the main and most effective learning model in online education- the same programming courses. Mentoring is not limited to technical assistance but also concerns the moral support of students.
The concept of mentoring in education
Mentoring is the most convenient and effective way to transfer knowledge and skills from an experienced and knowledgeable representative of the older generation to young people. This form of education is rooted in ancient times: young people needed help socializing and entering adulthood even at that time. In this way, the younger generation acquires applied knowledge, the ability to behave in society, and the skills to work with tools.
With the help of mentors, young people form certain life values and positive attitudes, and they are more quickly determined and successfully realize themselves in adulthood.
Mentoring in modern education has long been an integral part. This program creates a fruitful environment in which all participants reach their full potential: students, parents, teachers, employees of regional enterprises, young professionals, and all those who are interested in the problems of pedagogy.
In the educational community, mentoring is a channel for the transfer of experience. This technology of obtaining knowledge, skills, experience, skills, and competencies works much faster and more efficiently than other methods (textbooks, lessons, independent and project work, formalized communication).
Mentoring is applied in a wide variety of areas of education with different goals of training or development of mentees, for example:
- at school – for career guidance for high school students;
- in a higher educational institution – for deeper immersion in professional education by student trainees to prepare them for future work in their specialty;
- In the organization – for the speedy adaptation of new employees to convey to them the existing norms and requirements that will help them quickly get involved in the work;
- With managers – to further study management activities to move to a higher level.
The program of the target mentoring model in education is a universal technology that allows you to build relationships within any organization. It is a technology for transferring existing experience and knowledge, intensive personal development, and formation of life values and skills, competencies, and meta-competences.
American and European models of mentoring in education
According to David Clutterbuck, author of the research paper Everyone Needs a Mentor: Taking Care of Talent in Your Organization, there are two models of mentoring: American and European.
The American organization of the mentoring system in education is built on the fact that an older or higher-status person helps his protégé. Based on this concept, the mentor can be the direct supervisor of the mentee.
Training takes place unilaterally – the protege adopts the experience of an older comrade, listens to his advice and instructions, and learns from him. This is the job of a mentor. The American model is called “Sponsored mentoring,” but it is quite difficult to apply because of the difficult role of the mentor.
In this case, he speaks to his ward simultaneously in three roles: teacher, leader, and mentor.
The European methodology and practice of mentoring in education emphasize that the mentor has experience and knowledge, but his social position could be of better importance. This model pushes social differences aside, so both participants feel equal and build trusting relationships.
With this concept, the trainee is not considered a protégé but a student (mentee). There is two-way learning in which the mentor and his student learn something new from each other to benefit their relationship mutually. In this model, the mentor is tasked with advising the student through coaching and facilitation, that is, non-directive management.
Therefore, in the European model, the roles of a mentor and a direct supervisor are not combined but belong to different people; it is called “Developing Mentoring.”
According to David Clutterbuck, a leader must have the competencies of mentoring and mentoring. Therefore, it is necessary to teach both the ability to be a mentor and the ability to be instructed.
Clutterbuck believes that at different levels of the hierarchy, each leader can be in both roles simultaneously. Although there is a paradox: the higher the position a person occupies, the less he is interested in what is happening in the organization.
Mentoring in vocational education helps establish regular communication between employees occupying different positions, which contributes to the organization’s development.
D. Clutterbuck conducted research that showed that teams that use coaching and mentoring and have established a common relationship between employees could achieve great results.
When studying the literature on the subject of the existence of forms of mentoring abroad, a certain conclusion suggests itself: the methodology of mentoring in education in foreign practice is primarily aimed at the development and training of managerial personnel.
Foreign practices of mentoring in education
In the last years of the Pedagogical Institute (“seminary”), when students finish their theoretical education, they are at the same time sent to teaching practice. For 18 months, they worked in a specially designed school under the supervision of a personal mentor. The task of the master mentor includes both the immersion of the ward in the profession and the development of the knowledge gained at the university in practice.
So for the successful passing of the second state exam, the university teachers, the student himself, and his mentor at school are equally responsible.
Mentoring most often means one-time meetings, consultations, individual analysis, and comprehension by the mentees of their own experience of achievements and mistakes. To do this, the mentor-tutor can organize a mutual exchange of lessons or visits to classes conducted by someone else to analyze them later.
With his ward, he participates in work seminars and attends practical classes for advanced training, but all this on an individual basis. There are no social institutions with a mentoring function in Canada.
Becoming a teacher requires participating in a mentoring program in this country. A mentor accompanies a young teacher for at least 10 hours a week and at least 300 hours a year. Twenty-five days a year, the mentee continues to study directly within the school’s walls. Outside it, with the mentor, select and attend specialized events, seminars, and discussions and conduct project and research activities. They also choose educational programs together based on the professional deficit of the mentor.
For his part, the mentor regularly acquaints the ward with the main directions of the state educational policy (regulatory framework, textbooks, programs, standards, digitalization of education, and education problems in general) and helps to find the right way out of problematic pedagogical situations.
During the first three years of work at the school, a young teacher is required to participate in a mentoring program. He is a member of the school teaching and research group in his subject and the group for preparing for lessons in a particular class. Participation in the work of groups is strictly regulated – 2-3 lessons of 40 minutes per week in each of them, and each lesson is paid as working time.
A very good practice is widespread in China: the mutual exchange of teachers from strong advanced schools and weaker ones for a long period (3-5 years), even with the possible relocation to another region. This is one of the best mentoring practices in education, allowing you to raise the level of learning in a weaker school and enabling a team of teachers who find themselves in a well-organized educational environment to learn from the best practices of colleagues and try to implement them on their own.
Republic of Korea
The position of the mentor has a thorough study. It states that only a teacher with at least 15 years of experience, who has the status of a “head teacher,” the 1st qualification category, and has completed a 180-hour mentoring advanced training program, can be a mentor. The Department of Education has a selection committee that considers and approves teacher-mentor candidacies.
One-half of the working time, teachers selected by the commission teach students their subject or lecture in elective courses. The second half of the work schedule is spent on accompanying young colleagues, research activities, and developing mentoring programs both within and outside the school.
Mentoring in online education
Modern online education can be obtained in two ways: independently and with a mentor. In the first case, the student solves the problems that arise; therefore, with independent learning, the educational process takes more time.
In the second case, the support of a mentor significantly facilitates and accelerates knowledge acquisition. In addition, the mentor not only presents the material in an accessible way and transfers his practical experience to the student but also develops soft skills (universal skills) and motivation to study.
Traditional education is built according to the “teacher-knowledge-student” scheme. The form of mentoring in online education is much more voluminous: the mentor not only explains the educational material but is also the person who develops the student’s soft skills, shares his own practical experience, and motivates and provides moral support throughout the study. The Oxford Dictionary defines a “mentor” as “an experienced and trusted adviser.”
It is not the responsibility of the mentor to solve problems for the student and provide him with ready-made answers. The mentor’s task is to push the mentee to the right idea, to help him make a decision, thinking in his way. The main goal of mentoring is to develop skills and achieve personal growth and understanding of the chosen field of activity.
Students master the theoretical course on the simulator, then write the code themselves, which is checked by code reviewers and point out the mistakes made. On the other hand, mentors help solve problems but do not give ready-made answers for this, but teach students to find and correct their mistakes on their own.
Assistance and development of mentoring in education:
- The moral support of students and motivation. When a person improves his qualifications or even radically changes his profession, then at first, he finds himself in a completely new environment for himself, which is difficult for him to navigate. If this is an IT field, the difficulties encountered at certain stages make the student think he is standing still, making him want to quit everything. A mentor in this situation is necessary: only he can support the ward and explain to him that learning does not go without mistakes; this is a natural process.
- Feedback. Through feedback, the mentor helps the student to see the gaps in knowledge, establish themselves in their achievements and understand which direction to take to move forward. At the same time, the mentor helps to correct mistakes and find alternative ways to solve problems.
- Exchange of experience. The mentor most often has already passed the path along which the student is now moving. Therefore, he can share his experience and real-life stories and talk about the mistakes he made in his time.
- Recommendations for a deeper dive into the topic. The broad outlook of the mentor allows him not only to explain the main program materials in an accessible way but also to connect additional ways for deeper study and immersion in the topic: educational films, lectures, educational videos on YouTube, meetups (informal meetings of specialists), analytical articles.
- Assistance in the development of soft skills. The mentor establishes communication through video calls, helps to gain decision-making skills when correcting mistakes, and develops creative thinking by analyzing non-standard interactive tasks.
The mentor provides technical and moral support to students. If they cannot answer some questions, he advises them not to look for answers on the Internet but to try to find a solution on their own. Technical support consists in helping with solving complex problems since students still need to do this.
Moral support is the motivation for learning and strengthening the spirit. It is always difficult to learn new things – the time for studying is limited, and deadlines are set for projects. A stressful situation arises when a student is afraid not to have time to do everything on his own, which may affect the motivation to study.
Of course, you can do self-education alone. But the mentor sets the movement vector, directs, and warns, which helps save time. Self-development is cool but long. If you need to get from point A to point B quickly and with excellent results, it is better to take a mentor with you.