Key Ideas for Mentors

Ministry of Education – Teaching Policy and Standards Branch


                                                                          Issue 25 / May 2014

Building Influence

Mentoring is the heart of New Teacher Induction Program and the ongoing support of our NTIP mentors is a critical component of our shared work.  Below are some key ideas about how as mentors we can be mindful in our approach to “the complex dynamics of human interaction” that shape all of our relationships.

Self Knowledge

Knowing how we respond internally and externally is the 50% of the equation we can influence in any human interaction. Just like with students, we can make conscious choices to inflate or deflate challenges we encounter in interacting with our colleagues.

Power of Listening

Simply being “present” and attending fully is an integral part of establishing the relational trust that is an essential component of any mentoring relationship.

Attributes Based Approach

By purposefully seeking out the strengths and attributes our colleagues possess we empower not only the beginning teachers we are working with, but continue to engage in our own learning and growth.  We have so much to learn from and with each other!


In a nutshell, by taking care of ourselves we have more to give to others.  Sounds simplistic, but sometimes there are deep truths in simple ideas.  Basic things like daily physical activity, reflection, nutrition, and laughter are powerful gifts we can give ourselves, those we mentor, and ultimately the students we teach.

Learning Focused Conversations – Ideas to Consider

Over the last several months the Teaching Policy and Standards Branch (TPSB) has had the privilege of working with (and learning from) several board NTIP teams in the design and delivery of foundational professional learning opportunities for NTIP mentors.

During these sessions mentors honed their coaching skills via engagement in authentic learning focused conversations with colleagues.  This graphic illustrates the types of conversations mentors may frequently engage in with the beginning teachers they support.

Below are some core elements for mentors to consider as they facilitate learning focused conversations.

Setting Aside

  • Often we “listen to speak” when engaged in conversation.  In other words, we begin to quickly construct answers or advice in our heads rather than truly listening.  Setting aside our personal need to connect (via autobiography) or offer immediate judgement (via advice) enables authentic listening to occur.

Attending Fully

  • A real barrier to listening can be actually being present in the moment when someone is speaking.  Attending fully involves physically unplugging from our personal electronic devices and also letting go of our “mental e-mail” in order to fully focus on the person who is speaking to us.

Pausing and Paraphrasing

  • Both pausing and paraphrasing can be effective tools for acknowledging what the speaker is saying and allowing the person to clarify their thoughts.  An elegant paraphrase is a single sentence that expresses the gist of what you’ve heard and understood as a listener. It can focus on feeling or content or both (see example below). 

Sounds like you’re very worried (feeling) about planning for the open house. (content)

Using Questions to Mediate Thinking

  • Open ended mediational questions connect the person to their strengths, inner resources, and available supports.  They can assist in exploring options and in the development of practical next steps for the speaker.

Flexibility of Stance and Role

  • Not every conversation is a coaching conversation.  While the ideas to consider above may be helpful as a framework for thinking, effective mentors demonstrate flexibility of stance and role based on the needs of the beginning teacher.

Practical ideas and tools for mentors including monographs, slidecasts, web links, example videos and even a mentoring ebook are all available on the Professional Learning Resources for Mentors page at:

Download this page as a pdf file


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