Field Services Office

The Role of the Mentor Teacher


Welcome to the exciting experience of being a mentor teacher! The Southern Utah University College of Education sincerely appreciates your willingness to supervise our teacher candidates. The information and suggestions which follow will help you as a mentor teacher. Mentor teachers are encouraged to suggest additions, revisions, and deletions to the information presented in this handbook. Please send these to the Field Services Director.

Student Teaching is the culmination of both the Elementary and Secondary Education programs. The primary goal of the student teaching experience is to provide the teacher candidate with the opportunity of applying effective teaching practices and behaviors under the guidance of an experienced and qualified mentor teacher and university supervisor.

The mentor teacher is perhaps the most influential person in the teacher candidate’s student teaching experience. Research indicates that the mentor teacher can be the most important factor in determining a teacher candidate’s future success as a classroom teacher. The attitudes, teaching styles, sense of teamwork, and positive feedback that mentor teachers exhibit during student teaching are among the essential elements of a successful student teaching experience.

Being a successful mentor teacher takes time, effort, and skill. It is an extremely important responsibility, one which cannot be fulfilled by turning a teacher candidate loose to “sink or swim.” It is the wish of the university and cooperating school districts that you are present with the teacher candidate as much as possible so you can provide regular feedback to help the teacher candidate be effective in the classroom. This will also give you the opportunity to provide one-on-one assistance to the students in your classroom.

Criteria for Selecting Mentor Teachers

  1. A Mentor Teacher must have three years or more of current teaching experience.
  2. A mentor teacher must be able to model effective instructional procedures and promote professional practice.
  3. A mentor teacher must have a willingness, the time in his/her schedule, and a demonstrated ability to provide proper mentoring and evaluation of a teacher candidate.
  4. A mentor teacher must have the skills necessary to observe and evaluate teacher candidate performance and to provide on-going, descriptive feedback so as to foster positive growth for the teacher candidate.
  5. A mentor teacher must have demonstrated the ability to clearly and professionally share their knowledge of effective teaching.
  6. A mentor teacher must prepare the environment to maximize opportunities for pre-service teachers to succeed and learn from their errors.
  7. A mentor teacher will set the pace for the integration of the teacher candidate into the classroom setting, allowing gradually increased levels of responsibility. A minimum of two weeks required, for the teacher candidate to have complete control of the classroom setting. The mentor teacher is ever present to assist as needed.
  8. A mentor teacher should be considered a “model” teacher.

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Mentor Teacher Checklist

  1. Complete the Mentor Teacher Acceptance/1099 Stipend Request Form .and the W-9 Form. Both are required. Please return this to the Field Services Office so you can be paid promptly for your service.
  2. Go over the materials in your teacher "candidate’s folder” or information packet carefully. This folder should be given back to the university supervisor with all paperwork required from you at the end of the experience.
  3. Conference with your teacher candidate prior to the beginning of his/her assignment so that you can:
    • Help determine the topic of the Teacher Work Sample and when he/she will be able to teach the Teacher Work Sample.
    • Introduce candidate to school faculty and staff.
  4. Go over your teacher candidate’s Student Teaching Handbook with him/her thoroughly. This is available online only. Please pay particular attention to the introductory and mentor teacher sections. Sign the verification form as having gone over the handbook with your teacher candidate. The Student Teaching Handbook is available online only.
  5. Model the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Conceptual Framework and INTASC teaching standards for the teacher candidate. These standards are located in the “New Teacher Standards (INTASC)” in the introduction part of the handbook.
  6. Remain in the classroom with the teacher candidate serving as mentor and team teacher as much as possible. Solo time is appropriate and recommended towards the end of the experience.
  7. Discuss the day’s events; provide feedback to the teacher candidate regarding his/her self-reflection as disclosed on the daily accountability form as you sign it.
  8. Discuss the teacher candidate’s future curriculum plans at least a week in advance. Provide feedback, offer suggestions, and resource information. Request written lesson plans a week in advance.
  9. Review the teacher candidate’s lesson plans daily. Make sure they contain the elements of a good lesson plan as outlined in the Student Teaching Handbook. They must be detailed enough for a substitute to be able to teach from them.
  10. Complete Student Teaching Observation Forms while observing the teacher candidate teaching prepared lessons as outlined below. Collaborate with the university supervisor and teacher candidate to determine where improvement is needed.
    • Elementary Mentors – Complete two evaluations during the 30 days.
    • Secondary Majors – Complete four evaluations during the 60 days.
    • Secondary Minors – Complete two evaluations during the 60 days.
    • SPED – Complete two evaluations during the 40 days.
  11. Please return the following to his/her university supervisor:
    • Required number of completed observation forms as outlined above
    • Final Student Teaching Evaluation form

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Preparing for the Teacher Candidate

Effective mentor teachers begin preparing for their teacher candidate prior to their arrival. They:

  1. Prepare the students for the arrival of the teacher candidate by telling the classroom students that the teacher candidate is another teacher in the room who can make a positive contribution to their learning. Notify parents that there will be a teacher candidate in the classroom. Share the teacher candidate’s profile information with students so they will know something about the teacher candidate;
  2. Provide a work space in the room for the teacher candidate to use. If possible, the work space should be a desk or table rather than a student desk;
  3. Assemble materials that will help the teacher candidate understand curriculum and school policies, e.g., teachers’ editions of textbooks, lesson planning materials or plan book, school district and state curriculum guides, and the school handbook containing school policies and procedures; and,
  4. Develop plans for acquainting the teacher candidate with the school, the physical layout, and personnel.

The First Few Days of Student Teaching

Conference with the teacher candidate prior to the beginning of student teaching. The teacher candidate will initiate this meeting as soon as she/he receives their placement. During this meeting the mentor teacher should:

  • Familiarize the teacher candidate with the routine and management techniques in the classroom;
  • Acquaint the teacher candidate with the work that will be under way in the class when they arrive;
  • Provide the teacher candidate with a copy of class schedules, students’ names, and the school handbook;
  • Take the teacher candidate on a tour of the school building;
  • Discuss pertinent school policies and regulations with the teacher candidate;
  • Reach an agreement concerning the responsibility and authority each will have; and,
  • Discuss attendance, dress codes, personal behavior, time schedules, etc.

During the initial period of student teaching, the mentor teacher should:

  • Be aware of the special needs of the teacher candidate in adjusting to a different environment;
  • Introduce the teacher candidate to the class in a way that establishes the teacher candidate as a teacher;
  • Welcome the teacher candidate as a partner in the classroom;
  • Introduce the teacher candidate to other faculty members and administrative staff;
  • Involve the teacher candidate in classroom participation;
  • Assist the teacher candidate in learning the students’ names;
  • Include the teacher candidate in discussions and planning with pupils;
  • Plan for the teacher candidate’s gradual assumption of teaching responsibilities;
  • Assist the teacher candidate in becoming familiar with various available instructional materials;
  • Inform the teacher candidate of necessary needed background information concerning students;
  • Explain and train teacher candidates to use the roll book and grading procedures; and,
  • Discuss educational ideas and goals with the teacher candidate so that she/he will be able to meet your expectations.

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Suggested Sequence of Student Teaching Activities

While each teacher candidate and student teaching experience is unique, the following sequence of suggested activities can help insure a smooth transition. The mentor teacher and teacher candidate should meet regularly to discuss how best to implement these activities.

The Teacher Candidate Needs To:

  • Learn the students’ names, learning styles, and other pertinent individual student characteristics.
  • Learn the routine and observe how the mentor teacher handles discipline and classroom organization.
  • Assist the mentor teacher with routine activities.
  • Share the responsibility of the teaching load. Planning is the key to success.
  • Develop plans for teaching, under the guidance of the mentor teacher. Lesson plans developed by the teacher candidate should be shared well in advance with the mentor teacher to allow for feedback and to obtain available resources.
  • Continue to develop plans for teaching under the guidance of the mentor teacher. The mentor teacher teaches less as time progresses.
  • Meet with the mentor teacher daily and university supervisor on a regular basis to review progress and performance.
  • Take part in extra-curricular school functions and other school activities as required.
  • Teach solo during selected subjects or periods with assistance and evaluation from the mentor teacher as needed. The teacher candidate should complete all the teaching responsibilities and plans for teaching by the end of the experience.

Contacting the University Supervisor

Throughout the student teaching experience, the mentor teacher is encouraged to contact the education university supervisor should the need arise. The following are possible reasons for contacting the university supervisor.

The teacher candidate:

  1. Does not attend the first day of the student teaching assignment;
  2. Exhibits a reluctance to fulfill teaching responsibilities (lesson planning, preparation, disciplining, etc.);
  3. Exhibits a reluctance to attend meetings required of mentor teacher;
  4. Allows other employment or any other reason to interfere with the student teaching assignment; or
  5. Engages in any inappropriate activity.

If, for any other reason, you feel the teacher candidate needs assistance or counseling, please contact the Field Services Office at 435-865-8685, and they will get the information immediately to the university supervisor. Please do not wait until there is a major problem.

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The Evaluation

As a mentor teacher, your counsel and evaluation of the teacher candidate are essential. Most teacher candidates have acquired entry level skills but have much to learn about the complex process of effective teaching. YOUR EVALUATION SHOULD BE BASED ON THEIR PERFORMANCE AND PROGRESS AS A TEACHER CANDIDATE.

Please collaborate with your teacher candidate on a regular basis regarding his/her daily accountability self-reflection form. This will give you the opportunity to help the teacher candidate evaluate the events of each day and make plans for improvement.

Sample Observation and Final Evaluation Forms are found in Appendix F. Please study the Final Evaluation Forms at the beginning of the student teaching experience. There are several standards or criteria to be met that will require your help in providing opportunities for the teacher candidate such as providing leadership at faculty/department meetings. Should you have any questions about the Evaluation Forms, please contact the Field Services Office at 435-865-8685. All evaluations should be reviewed with the teacher candidate and signed as required. The original and one copy of the signed evaluation will need to be given to the University Supervisor.

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