This area of interest, therefore, was one that I was happy to share during Pedagoo Hampshire 2017, albeit as a stand-in speaker as a favour to Martyn Reah.
While there are some simple and straightforward expectations, the need to develop the professional thinking skills, as well as subject pedagogy, requires skills from the teacher that can eventually lead to significant self-development.
To some extent, the standards are self explanatory, so I have copied a version that we use at Winchester University, to set the scene for expectations. The quality of the professional relationship is key to a successful period in any class. How well the mentor can unpick aspects of practice, in order to share both the overview and the detail, without overloading the trainee, is an important element.
It is also worth mentioning that schools which choose to take on trainees of any description become de facto teaching schools, with every member of staff potentially being asked for help or advice at some stage. Therefore, the best prepared schools are those where everyone knows that a trainee is starting, and expectations of each staff member, as well as an understanding of the phases of development.
The responsibilities for the trainee can be shared, with classroom mentors being supported by colleagues who may have recent study skills that might be useful to the trainee as they prepare written submissions for their PGCE or QTS status. Equally, using the available collective expertise can be useful in general discussion. Perhaps a colleague has completed a diploma, masters or some other qualification and can help with academic phrasing or referencing, perhaps offering to read the piece ahead of submission.
Professional relationships, between the mentor and the trainee, trainee and teaching assistants, wider staff involvement, parents and children, will become self-evident, from the very outgoing to the excessively shy; I've met both extremes and every shade in between. The green boxes in the diagram below seek to summarise what might be seen in a potentially successful trainee. While they are self-explanatory, any suggestion of concern, in any of these areas, is likely to raise questions in a mentor's mind. These questions might, in themselves, become limiting factors. In this regard, the mentor has to unpick their own personal biases, in order to interact professionally. However, concerns are concerns and may eventually have to be addressed. We are talking basic teacher capabilities.
This is a significantly important area. A trainee will have had very little experience longitudinally. They may have had anything from a few weeks' experience to HLTA over time, but they may still need to get to grips with what "good outcomes" look like and the right decisions to make in order to promote further progress. Even an experienced teacher changing year groups or changing school settings may find this challenging. Moderation activity, aka talking about what the children are doing, between the trainee and the teacher is essential, to enable the mentor to guide decision making and develop baseline expectations. Visiting the year above and the year below is also a useful guide, to see where children have come from and what they are expected to be able to do the following year.
The baselines will, in effect, guide in-lesson decisions. A clear idea of the journey of the lesson and the outcome expectations enable appropriate decisions to be made, including the use of sharing time, working alongside an individual or group to support their working approach.
reflection within and outside the lesson guides decisions about subsequent learning.
Within lessons, it is fine of a mentor feels the need to act as a "parrot on the shoulder"; having a quiet word in the trainee's ear to prompt timely action. If the school has a system of microphone and earpiece, this could be an alternative means.
Videoing the lesson can provide the basis for post-lesson analysis and discussion between mentor and trainee.
Something as seemingly simple as in-lesson transitions can be the point where a trainee finds limitations in their practice.
The difficulty for an inexperienced trainee is that a good teacher can make teaching look easy. They may need guided observations to be able to tease out the key themes, then begin to delve into the nuances. A mentor "talking their thinking", making their actions overt, might seem an odd thing to propose, but it can be sufficient to guide the trainee within the dynamics of the classroom.
Reflection, supported by opportunities to discuss their thinking, will ensure that the trainee, over time, becomes a thinking professional colleague. Some have one year to achieve this. It is incumbent on the school, through the mentoring and colleague support, to ensure that they are led along this path. It should not be left to chance.
At then end of the day, schools and mentors are creating the next generation of teachers, perhaps for themselves, but certainly on behalf of the education system. It is a responsibility, but it is also a privilege to see any trainee develop into an independent colleague.
For this reason, I'd like to see some kind of accreditation available to mentors, to be able to transition to becoming in-house tutors, on a par with university colleagues, responsible for in-practice pedagogy.