As a teacher I fulfil many different roles throughout my working week. For example, I am subject lead for History which means I complete long and medium term plans for my subject and advise other teachers on the best ways to impart the history curriculum. I am also continuing professional development leader in our school which means that with the guidance of my HT I plan the school’s CPD. Being assessment lead is also on my jobs list and we all know what a pickle that is in right now. Making sense of assessment is the stuff of nightmares I will say! Next up I am a specialist leader of education (SLE)  and that sees me planning and delivering twilight courses on different topics for the Fylde Coast Teaching School which I am honoured to be a part of. I am also Assistant Head for teaching and learning for Key Stages 1-3 including staffing issues. I almost forgot to mention I teach around 60% of the time, all Key Stages from EYFS up to Key Stage 5. I love being a teacher and all it entails. There’s a great deal of negativity surrounding the profession at the moment and none of it is coming from me.

One aspect of my role I haven’t mentioned is that I’m a school based ITT mentor. I believe that being a mentor is simply one of the best things you can do. Having decent school based mentors is essential for the future of teaching. Without mentors, how will our trainees and NQTs develop? Teaching children is far too important to be left to chance and it is far too important to allow trainee teachers to develop at their own rate. We need to help them grow as teachers.

Qualities of a good mentor

  1. Be patient
  2. Be supportive
  3. Be approachable
  4. Have good communication skills
  5. Be a good role model
  6. Be a reflective practitioner
  7. Have good subject knowledge
  8. Be experienced yourself.

I am not saying that I possess all of these qualities, but what I do think is that I have enthusiasm for the role in abundance. I really enjoy contributing to the development of trainee teachers, I enjoy guiding them and supporting them and watching them as they grow in confidence until they no longer need me. I also believe its a two way partnership.

Things I gain from being a mentor

  1. Up to the minute teaching ideas
  2. A chance to be reflective about my own teaching
  3. How to be a better manager/leader
  4. Improved teamwork as I constantly team teach with trainees
  5. Improved communication skills due to lesson feedback

I also have the chance to be a critical friend and confidante to my trainees, a shoulder to cry on when it all becomes too tough.

This year we have had a student on a block placement from Edge Hill University. His placement has been very successful and although he will qualify for mainstream senior school he will be a success in a special school if he ever fancies the challenge. We have also hosted two year 3 students on block placements to be SEND specialists. We currently have a  4th year who qualifies in May and who will be a welcome addition to the SEND teaching community. Over the last 2 weeks our school has given taster sessions to 20 schools direct trainees and 10 SCITT trainees. As you can see, we are very keen on developing SEND students at our school. The national picture is that there is a huge shortage of specialist SEND teachers and in our own way we are attempting to alleviate that problem.

The best reason for being a mentor is that I like to give something back to the profession. I have said many times before that I was once a TA and was lucky enough to receive lots of CPD to enable me to be in the position I am now in. If you are thinking of becoming an ITT school based mentor, go ahead and take the plunge. It might just be the most rewarding thing you have ever done.

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