Mentoring and coaching as forms of collaboration

Mentoring and coaching are both ways of teacher collaboration, where the relationship is based on trust and mutual understanding.

According to Kise (2006) Coaching is identifying and developing person or team’s strengths. It’s a partnership between the coach and the person/s being coached. Coaching uses methods that are usually developed through conversation. Coaching recognizes that individual differences will and should occur in how most changes are implemented in the classroom.

Mentoring in school is a professional guidance relationship in which an experienced, socially valued teacher acts as an adviser for a less experienced teacher and thus helps the new teacher develop in their work. This relationship resembles the old guild institution where masters taught the apprentices. (Heikkinen, Jokinen, & Tynjälä, 2012) For the purpose of collaboration, I have no need to treat them as individual approaches. I’ll concentrate on the similarities of this type of collaborative work, instead of the differences.

The potential benefits of coaching and mentoring within an organization arise from the close relationship between the colleagues. This collegial partnership is “an environment of trust, safety, support and mutual respect. “ (Rhodes, Stokes, & Hampton, 2004, p. 23)

A coach or a mentor can have different roles. I will briefly introduce four different styles by Kise (2006) because I feel they quite well summarize the coaches or mentors’ roles.

1. Coach/mentor as useful resource
They provide hands-on, relevant lessons or lesson ideas that produce results. They test these lessons and provide evidence that they work. They give examples that are easily customized to subject areas.

2. Coach/mentor as encouraging sage
They meet the teachers’ needs for encouragement, clear goals and concrete tasks. They offer to join teachers in their classrooms to show them what is going right. They make concrete suggestions to fix something, if needed.

3. Coach/mentor as a collegial mentor
They engage in conversations to help teachers use their creativity. They let teachers create the ideas and they critique them together with the teachers.

4. Coach/mentor as an expert
They provide credentials and references in their expertise. They provide methods for balancing theory and creativity with hands-on experimentation.