Guiding Questions

This page is devoted to exploring mentoring as a form of leadership, teaching, and learning in foreign language education through questions such as:

  • What is mentoring and how does it differ from other forms of teaching and learning?
  • What are some of the strategies that effective mentors use to build shared cultures of learning?
  • In what ways might mentoring be considered a form of leadership?
  • How might mentoring be used to support students? Beginning teachers? Colleagues? Professional Learning Communities? Other organizations?
  • How might mentoring be used as a tool for initiating, implementing, and sustaining change?

Key Concepts

  • "We don't learn from doing, we learn from thinking about doing" (Laura Lipton, 2003)
  • Mentoring provides a process that leaders can use to foster a culture that supports learning.
  • Mentoring provides a process that allows leaders to initiate productive relationships, identify needs and concerns, determine effective responses to resistance, and empower others through collaborative learning.

Key Principles

  • In order to progress, mentees need to have their existing thinking challenged, their vision of what is possible for themselves and for their students expanded, and adequate support (in terms of emotional, intellectual, physical, and social resources). (Lipton, 2003)
  • Begin where the mentee is, not where you want them to be.
  • Select your mentoring stance (coaching, collaborating, or consulting) based on the mentee's perspective and skill level. (Lipton, 2003)
  • Monitor nonverbal cues continuously so that you can adjust your stance when necessary during the course of the interaction.
  • Listen for the story BEHIND the words. In other words, "Listen to what is being said and the events being related . . . . Listen to the feelings being expressed. Listen to the needs being expressed. Understand by putting yourself in the other person's shoes as best you can" (Lundberg & Lundberg, 2000, p. 38).
  • Pause before you respond, paraphrase what you think was said, and probe with follow-up questions. (Lipton, 2003). "When you use the operative words of the person speaking, then he knows that he is being listened to because he hears his lead being followed. His path is not being challenged or diverted . . . . " (Lundberg & Lundberg, 2000, p. 51).
  • Provide non-judgmental feedback that invites additional thinking and conversation. "Be non-judgmental" (Lipton). "Get rid of the 'buts' in your conversations. They nearly always invalidate whatever validation you previously gave" (Lundberg & Lundberg, 2000, p. 54).
  • "When relationships are strained and the air charged with emotion, an attempt to teach is often perceived as a form of judgment and rejection" (Lundberg & Lundberg, 2000, p. 62).

Agenda - Meaningful Mentoring

Capture Attention: You Raise Me Up - From Closer by Josh Groban (What does this song have to do with mentoring?)

Activate Prior Knowledge:

  • Think/Pair/Share - Share your mentoring experiences with a partner

Make Sense: Dimensionalizing Understanding

Data + connection to other data --> Information + Relation to other information --> Knowledge + Action --> Understanding + Experience --> Perspectives --> Learning = Changes in Behavior




When bits of data are brought into relation with one another and connected in meaningful ways, they become information.

The transition from data to information is mediated by connection. As individual "factlets" become connected, they become recognizable as information. Individual letters, numbers, musical notes, or colors are not all that valuable until they are brought in relation to one another in particular ways that cause us to recognize them as information (such as words, numbers on a clock, notes in a chord, or a color-coded organizational system).


When pieces of information are connected in meaningful, patterned ways, they become knowledge.


The transition from information to knowledge is catalyzed by meaningful connections. Pieces of information become knowledge for us when they converge in ways that enable us to see patterns. We use these patterns (such as sentences in a paragraph, numbers in a mathematical formula, chords in a musical score, or colors on a palette) to extract meaning from our contact with these connected pieces of information. However, disconnected clumps of knowledge are not particularly influential in a complex world.


When pieces of knowledge are contextualized in experience, they become dimensionalized in ways that produce understanding.


In order for knowledge to become understanding, it must be mediated by additional experience (such as reading a book, considering a mathematical proof, listening to a whole song, or viewing a painting).


When pieces of knowledge are connected across disciplines, they create paradigm shifts that enable the perspectives of expertise to emerge.

It is possible to understand something as a result of substantive experience with it over a long period of time, yet still fail to develop expertise. Because deep expertise is generally mediated by knowledge that spans multiple disciplines (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996; Florida, 2005), it is only as we begin to combine chunks of understanding and transfer them across disciplines and contexts that expertise emerges.

Make Meaning: Needs of Mentee - Support, Challenge, Vision

  • What kind of support?
  • What kind of challenge?
  • What kind of vision?

Encourage Involvement:

  • True Colors Quiz: How might this information influence your work as a mentor, leader, and change agent?

  • Developmental Stages in Learning a Profession: Novices, Advanced Beginners, Competent, Proficient, Experts

Learning-focused Conversations


  • Listen for the "meaning behind the words"
  • Avoid: Personal Referencing, Personal Curiosity, Personal Certainty

Validation - I Don't Have to Make Everything All Better!

Consider Closure:

Data-driven Feedback:

  • Is it non-judgmental?
  • Is it based on observable data?
  • Does it mediate thinking by helping the mentee to see patterns in circumstances and behavior (both positive and negative)?
  • Does it focus on things that are within the mentee's locus of control/sphere of influence?
  • Does it help the mentee to see what to do next (in terms of the VERY NEXT step) and does it provide the support the mentee needs in order to accomplish that?
  • Does it invite additional, learning-focused conversation?

Give Show That You Know Homework:

Complete the Building Leadership Capacity Self-Assessment Rubric - From Building Leadership Capacity by Linda Lambert

How might we apply these mentoring techniques to our work with students?

Children's Books Related to Mentoring

A Hat for Ivan - This book by Max Lucado demonstrates how well-meaning mentors can sometimes stifle the very growth they are trying to promote by failing to recognize the individual gifts and talents of those they serve.

Human Relations

Ball, William. (1984). A sense of direction: Some observations on the art of directing. Hollywood, CA: Drama Publishers. ISBN 0-89676-082-0.
This phenomenal book (particularly Chapters 1, 2, and 5) provides unique insights into the nature of directing and acting, teaching and learning, leading and mentoring, and intuition and creativity. (Contributed by - chericem1 chericem1)

Get Unstuck & Get Going Test Drive - Quotes & Questions to Stimulate Blocked Thinking

Identifying a Mentor -

Lundberg, Gary, & Joy Lundberg. (2000). I don't have to make everything all better: Six practical principles that empower others to solve their own problems while enriching your relationships. NY: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-028643-8.

Values Assessment -
This checklist would be helpful in identifying a mentor and determining mutual goals.

Mentoring Colleagues

Creating a Professional Development Plan:
This PDF contains a workbook with tons of resources that will help you to guide colleagues in creating professional development plans that can serve as a guide to mentoring and support.

Edutopia - This magazine (available online and in print) is produced by the George Lucas Educational Foundation addresses a host of educational issues, including Community Partnerships, Mentoring, Professional Development, Teacher Preparation. (Contributed by - chericem1 chericem1)

Giving & Receiving Feedback:

Garmston, Robert J., & Wellman, Bruce M. (1999). The adaptive school: A sourcebook for developing collaborative groups. Norwood, MA: Christopher-Gordon Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-926842-91-9.
This book provides a series of useful strategies for facilitating collaborative groups. (Contributed by - chericem1 chericem1)

Phases of Mentoring Relationships:

Mentoring New Teachers

Giving Feedback to Student Teachers:

Mentoring Functions:

Ganser, Tom. (1997, Winter). What are the important mentor roles? MLRN's Mentor Journal, 1. Retrieved February 21, 2007, from
This article provides results of a study on mentoring roles based on interview data from 26 participants.

Lipton.jpg Lipton, Laura, Wellman, Bruce, & Humbard, Carlette. (2003). Mentoring matters: A practical guide to learning-focused relationships. Sherman, CT: MiraVia, LLC. ISBN 0-9665022-2-1.
This teacher-friendly book contains information regarding the tensions inherent in mentoring new teachers, offers practical strategies for balancing these tensions, outlines verbal techniques for mediating thinking, and provides a useful collection of reproducible inventories, rubrics, templates, and other tools to support both mentors and mentees. Image source: chericem1 external image chericem1-sm.jpg

Lipton, Laura, & Wellman, Bruce. (2000). Pathways to understanding: Patterns and practices in the learning-focused classroom. Sherman, CT: MiraVia, LLC. ISBN 0-9665022-0-5. This book is full of reproducible templates that you can use to support learning-focused conversations and activities in one-on-one and one-to-many situations (such as inservices and staff meetings). - chericem1 chericem1

Lundberg, Gary, & Joy Lundberg. (2000). I don't have to make everything all better: Six practical principles that empower others to solve their own problems while enriching your relationships. NY: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-028643-8. - chericem1 chericem1

Mentoring - Cherice's recent bookmarks on the subject

Mora, Richard, & Evashevski, Marion. (2006, Spring). An open and honest conversation about the mentoring-mentee relationship. Kappa Delta Pi Record. For a shorter summary of this article, visit Coach's Corner: A Conversation Between Mentor and Mentee

Mentoring Students

Lipton, Laura, & Wellman, Bruce. (2000). Pathways to understanding: Patterns and practices in the learning-focused classroom. Sherman, CT: MiraVia, LLC. ISBN 0-9665022-0-5. This book is full of reproducible templates that you can use to support student thinking and learning-focused conversations during classroom activities. - chericem1 chericem1

Teaching Tips - Giving Feedback:


The Power of Conversation

Engage in Continuous Conversation - "Persistence does not mean patiently waiting for people to 'see the light.' Rather, it entails listening, posing tough questions, describing, mediating, and surfacing and confronting conflict. When opposition occurs in the form of active resistance or passive aggressiveness, . . .it is vital to secure agreement to stay in the dialogue" (Lambert, p. 86).

Nurture Understanding - ". . . variance in understandings will be widened by the lack of opportunity for conversation" (Lambert, p. 91).

Offer Support - "They're skeptical because they're scared" (Lundin, Paul, & Christensen, p. 81).

The Power of Empowerment

"Help that is not good is the kind that continually subsidizes a person and makes him dependent on you" (Lundberg & Lundberg, 2000, p. 279).

"When you start thinking up solutions for others you change the focus to yourself" (Lundberg & Lundberg, 2000, p. 279).

The Power of Feedback

"In real life, negative feedback doesn't mean failure--or anything else. It has no intrinsic meaning. It's just a message that says, 'Try again.'" (DePorter, Reardon, & Singer-Nourie, 1999, p. 196).

"Self-reflection on one's own teaching, though important, is seldom sufficient . . . . We often simply don't know what we are unaware of . . . . What we need is critical yet supportive feedback from those who know how to see . . . ." (Eisner, pp. 56-57).

The Power of Learning

"There has been an assumption that if the student is the learner, then the teacher must be someone who is not a learner" (Torbe & Medway, 1981, p. 10).

The Power of Listening

"One of the greatest compliments you can give another person is your complete attention" (Lundberg & Lundberg, 2000, p. 56).

"The more we preach, the more they will feel compelled to keep defending that point of view through their actions" (Lundberg & Lundberg, 2000, p. 125).

"When you offer help you must attempt to see through the eyes of the other person what is needed and wanted. The only way to do this is to ask nonthreatening questions" (Lundberg & Lundberg, 2000, p. 28).


DePorter, Bobbi, Mark Reardon, & Sarah Singer-Nourie. (1999). Quantum teaching: Orchestrating student success. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon. ISBN 0-205-28664-X.

Eisner, Elliot W. (2002). The arts and the creation of mind. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-09523-6.

Lambert, Linda. (1998). Building leadership capacity in schools. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. ISBN 0-87120-307-3.

Lundberg, Gary, & Joy Lundberg. (2000). I don't have to make everything all better: Six practical principles that empower others to solve their own problems while enriching your relationships. NY: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-028643-8.

Lundin, Stephen C., Harry Paul, & John Christensen. (2000). Fish! NY: Hyperion. ISBN 0-7868-6602-0.

Web 2.0 Tools for Mentors

Blogger - Use a variety of pre-made templates to create your own blogs that support the uploading of media-based content for free. Blogs can function as particularly effective tools for educating parents and community members about the opportunities and challenges of early language learning programs in ways that help them to form more realistic expectations for student performance. Blogs can also be used as a way for teachers to share the thinking behind their practice with both inexperienced and experienced colleagues, and to initiate dialogues about important issues at the classroom, building, district, state, national, or international levels. - chericem1 chericem1

BubblePLY - Allows you to add speech and thought bubbles to any online video, which means that mentors can now visually annotate videos of classroom practice for their mentees in ways that draw mentees' attention to important features! - chericem1 chericem1 - Easy-to-use, online, colorful graphic organizer that is shareable. Great for conducting brainstorming sessions, mapping curriculum, or identifying key issues when working with mentees. - chericem1 chericem1

Chat Creator - Lets you add a chat window to your website so that your mentees can communicate with you when you are online - chericem1 chericem1

Cmap - Free, online collaborative concept mapping that allows you to attach documents and photos and include hyperlinks. Especially nice for sharing curriculum because the map provides the mentee with a quick overview AND access to all of the electronic documents and materials related to each bubble. - chericem1 chericem1

Create Your Scenario - Darling tool that lets you select characters, type lines for each one, save the work, and generate a playscript. These could be used for creating simple role plays of typical conversations that mentees might need to have with administrators, colleagues, parents, or students. - This free social bookmarking site allows you to create, organize, and share an annotated list of online bookmarks to your favorite websites with colleagues, students, parents, and community members. As you search the site, you'll find yourself being "virtually mentored" by the things that experts who are working on similar issues have saved to their collections. You can also "tag" specific pages for individuals in your network, or "feed" them into your professional blog, class website, school home page, or organization website so that others can learn from you! - chericem1 external image chericem1-sm.jpg

Google Reader - After creating a free account, teacher-leaders can use this service to keep track of the blogs and webpages to which they have "subscribed" (for free and very easily) using RSS technology. Mentors and mentees can "subscribe" to one anothers' blogs and easily keep track of who has posted new content. - chericem1 chericem1

Google Scholar – This search engine returns only scholarly articles and books, tells you how many people have cited them, and links you to related articles. Great tool mentors can use to help mentees gather credible information they need in order to solve problems more effectively. - chericem1 chericem1

FoxIt - Free PDF reader that allows users to annotate PDFs via highlighting, text, or drawing tools, to fill out forms and save them, to view PDFs as text, etc. Also has a multi-language interface, self-upgrade, on-demand download, and javascript support. Useful for saving and annotating professional articles to share with your mentees.

Go2Web2.0 Directory - A handy directory of Web 2.0 services--many of which can facilitate mentoring.

Google Alerts – Lets you have Google notify you via an e-mail message when anything is posted on the web on the topic of your choice. A great way for keeping yourself up-to-date regarding information that will be useful to your mentee.

Google Docs - Free, online spreadsheet and word processor like Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word that lets multiple users on different computers edit a document simultaneously and save it online. This is a great way for you to collaborate with your mentee and offer constructive comments on their lesson plans, letters to parents, etc. Combine this with Skype for voice features too!

Google Notebook – Lets you copy snippets from online articles, or create your own running notebook on the topics of your choice online. The notebooks can be kept private or shared, making them a great place for you to take notes that you can then share with your mentee.

Google Reader - After creating a free account, you can use this service to keep track of the webpages to which they have "subscribed" (for free and very easily) using RSS technology. Mentors can "subscribe" to their mentees' blogs and easily keep track of who has posted new content.

Google Scholar – Returns only scholarly articles and books, tells you how many people have cited them, and links you to related articles. A useful tool for mentors who wish to provide their mentees with scholarly information that will help them problem-solve.

Keep Toolkit - A free, online project planning template that allows mentees to input images, text, and video into different "boxes" to create a shareable portfolio. Great for documenting professional growth over the course of a year.

Media Convert - A free, slick little online tool that will let you identify a media file on your desktop or at a particular URL and convert it to the format of your choice simply by filling in a simple form. No registration required. Useful for mentors whose mentees are using software that appears to be incompatible with theirs.

Meebo - Lets you manage chat/IM from multiple services all in one window. Also lets you create a customizable chat widget to add to your blog. Useful for allowing mentees to get instant help from mentors.

Meeting Wizard - A free, online tool that allows you to negotiate a date for an event, send out invitations, collect responses, and send reminders . . . all automatically! Great for allowing busy mentors with multiple mentees to coordinate meeting dates and times.

Motivator - Create your own motivational posters for free with a digital photo and a few clicks. Download them, e-mail them, print them, or upload them to Flickr. You can also order print copies. Use them to surprise your mentees with unexpected, personalized encouragement.[[|]]

Pikipimp - A free, online site that lets you upload pictures, add all sorts of accessories and speech bubbles to them, then save them. The site will generate a URL where the pictures can be viewed, as well as code for your webpage. Super for those days when your mentee just needs a good laugh.

Protopage - Ever wonder what a Web 2.0 webpage will look like? Well, here's the answer! Register for free to get your own page, then customize the content by clicking on any of the tabs and altering their contents. Make as much as you like public or private. Like someone else's content? Simply click import and watch it all get added to your page! A great way for mentors to gather and store resources and make them easily accessible to mentees.

Quickmaps - Allows you to pinpoint locations on a Google map, title and annotate the map, draw on the map, save all your annotations, and then generates a code you can embed into your blog or website to display the map. Use this tool to help mentees find district offices, extracurricular events, inservices, and school board meetings with ease.

Quintura - A very cool search engine that returns the results visually. Mouse over one of the tag words to see additional layers of results. A super tool for helping mentees to see the big picture regarding an issue of concern. See the new site for kids here:

Scrapblog - Combines the purposes and multimedia features of blogging with the visual affordances of scrapbooking. Comes with built-in templates and can accommodate music and video too. This would be a good tool for helping mentees to document important events and reflections during the year. - Use premade themes to create slideshows from your photos that you can embed in your blog or website. This would be a great tool for helping mentees to publicize their programs and keep parents informed.

Skype – Free software that allows you to talk to anyone in the world (up to 4 people at once) through your computer for free with a cheap headset mic (like the telemarketers wear) as long as the other person also has the software. Great for long distance conversations about projects, conference calls, and mentoring at a distance. You can also call landlines or cell phones, but there is a charge for that

Websites as Graphs - Lets you visualize the content of a website (in terms of images, tables, text, etc.) graphically. Useful for helping mentees to evaluate websites they create for parents and students in terms of content and design issues.

Wikispaces - Allows you to set up collaborative work spaces where multiple people can collaborate. Allows uploading of documents, files, images, and multimedia in addition to basic text, and includes discussion boards for every page, editing histories, revert options, RSS subscriptions, and the ability to review recent changes.

Yugma - Free Web 2.0 videoconferencing software. Especially helpful for assisting mentees with technology from a distance. (Read more about Tim Lauer's experiences with it here: