Mentoring: an investment for students, families, and teachers

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Mentoring can make an essential contribution to the personal and social growth and development of both students and teachers. Below, you will read about projects that make a positive contribution to students as well as parents from different cultural and/or disadvantaged backgrounds, and also projects that support teachers and their developmental needs.

Nightingale Mentoring Network – Children sing when they feel safe

The Nightingale mentoring programme was established in the University of Malmö in Sweden in 1997, and in 2006 it was implemented in seven European countries.

During the programme the trainee teacher is paired with a mentee, usually aged between 8 and 12, with whom s/he spends two to three hours week over a ten month period (usually October to May). Usually, this child is from a different social or cultural background.

This exchange benefits both child and teacher, since it offers an excellent opportunity for cross-cultural understanding and intercultural learning. The mentor will function as a positive role model for the child, who with the mentor’s help will develop a more confident attitude towards society. The trainee teacher will bridge the gap between practice and theory, and simultaneously will develop empathy and a deeper understanding for people who experience the same life but through a different cultural prism.

Continuing its successful action, the Nightingale mentoring programme expanded nationally and internationally to more than 20 sites, becoming a Network in 2010.The network counts seven members in Europe, and its main goals are to exchange experience, to improve the general quality of mentoring, and to provide and offer collaboration between universities in Europe.

There is a rich collection of research articles on mentoring on their website. 

The Learning Train – Parents also need mentors

It is often said that parents should get involved with the learning of their children and support them in their school activities. However, what happens when parents do not feel capable of such a role? 

De Schoolbrug (‘the Schoolbridge’), a Belgian NGO in Antwerp, offers trainee teachers the opportunity to participate in the Learning Train initiative. Through this initiative, trainee students learn the importance of the involvement of the parents in the children’s learning process. Parents can serve as valuable resources for schools and to this end they could be invited to share their skills and expertise.

The project is implemented in five schools in Antwerp and it brings trainee teachers into contact once a week for 60-90 minutes with parents of migrant and/or disadvantaged background. The teachers have the opportunity to respond to the needs of the parents and concentrate on how they can reinforce their involvement and contact with the schools. During this process, the trainee teachers are coached by an expert on educational welfare to whom they have to report weekly and after each visit to the family.

The results of the project so far have shown that parental support for school at home steadily improves. However, vigilant follow-up is necessary as the families participating in the programme are very vulnerable and any change in their environment can have serious repercussions.

Find here some pictures and quotes offered by the project. Please note that the quotations are in Flemish and English. For more information, see the detailed description.

The MENTOR Project – Mentoring between teachers

Mentoring is of vital importance for beginning teachers in the profession. However, not all teachers know how to become constructive mentors. Based on this, the MENTOR Project aims to prepare experienced teachers in their profession to become mentors for novice teachers.

This three-year Erasmus+ funded project runs in Poland, Greece, Portugal, Romania and Turkey, which are countries where the teachers’ development issues are similar. The project aims to investigate the existing mentoring methods in the partner countries; to design and develop training modules for secondary and high school teacher mentors; to organize training for teacher mentors; and to facilitate sustainable access to the mentoring approach for schools as well as the exchange of scientific information.

The project has already published a needs analysis report detailing teachers’ level of experience and knowledge of mentoring in the partner countries of the project, and a handbook for educators, which presents a practical guide for the development of mentoring programmes between experienced teachers, head teachers and beginners in the teaching profession.

The project’s research database makes available documents, press articles, academic research, and good practices on mentoring from Europe and beyond.