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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What is a Mentee? What are the Roles the Mentor Teacher Assumes in Helping the Mentee?

What is the Mentee?

From the perspective of a Jewish day or supplemental school, the mentee is the pre-service or in-service teacher who receives the services and assistance of the mentor teacher.

What is a Pre-service Teacher?

The pre-service teacher is an eleventh or twelfth grader, undergraduate, or graduate student who is studying the art and science of teaching, and intends to teach in a supplemental or day school. In this blog, we refer to three groups of pre-service teachers: madrichim, student teachers, and co-teachers.  The madrichim are post-bar and bat mitzvah students who serve as paid teaching assistants and role models working with classroom teachers in a supplemental or day school. The student teacher is a 12th grader[1] (or undergraduate Hillel student or Jewish Studies major) who is a paid instructional intern working with a mentor teacher. During the first semester, in addition to performing the duties of the madrich/madricha, the student teacher has an enhanced responsibility. He or she observes, reflects, and does some small group teaching in preparation for becoming a co-teacher during the second semester.  During the co-teaching phase, the teacher candidate co-plans, co-instructs, and co-reflects with his or her mentor teacher.  Together they may be engaged in team teaching where they alternate instructing the whole class, or they might divide the class into small learning groups that each one directs. Ultimately, the goal of co-teaching is for the pre-service teacher to assume most of the classroom responsibilities of the mentor teacher.

What is an In-service Teacher?

The in-service teacher in a Jewish supplemental or day school is the classroom teacher, the moreh or morah. In-service teachers can be differentiated into sub-categories including:

·      Novice teachers: persons in their first year of teaching

·      Beginning teachers: persons within the first five years of teaching

·      Advanced beginning teachers: persons with more than five years of teaching

·      Expert teachers: persons with extensive experience as a teacher, administrator, and/or staff developer with years of expertise in Judaics, and the theory, research, and best practices in instruction, curriculum development, supervision, and staff development for Jewish educators.


What Are Some of the Roles of the Mentor Teacher?

Mentor Teacher Roles


Staff Developer

From the perspective of a supplemental or day school, the mentor teacher is the professional at the school whose primary focus is to help develop the Judaic knowledge, instructional, and classroom management repertoire of the pre-service and in-service teacher. During the year, the mentor teacher may also be called on to conduct workshops for novice and veteran teachers in a variety of areas, including lesson planning, curriculum mapping, backward design, enduring Jewish knowledge, methods of teaching, instructional strategies to reach all students, classroom management, etc.

School Guide

The mentor teacher may orient the mentee to the norms, policies, procedures, and forms of the school. In addition, the mentor might give the mentee a tour of the school and introduce him/her to important members of the school community (i.e. school secretary, head custodian, special education resource teacher, media specialist, etc.).


As a coach, the mentor may observe the mentee teaching and collect data. This data may be shared after class, or during a post- observation conference.


Throughout the year, the mentor can serve as an empathic listener to the concerns of the mentee.


Before and after an observation, the mentor can discuss the lesson with the mentee.

Model for cultural or institutional change

As a school is undergoing change (e.g. becoming a Jewish professional learning community[2]) the mentor may serve as a reflective practitioner engaging in a variety of professional growth activities (e.g. leading a New Teacher Group Problem- Solving Committee, participating in a Tuning Protocol Group[3], chairperson of a curriculum committee, etc.).

[1] This is not to suggest that interested teaching candidates beyond the twelfth grade, such as second career professionals, cannot become student and co-teachers in this type of teacher development program. 

[2] We will be elaborating upon the concept of a Jewish professional learning community in another blog entry.

[3] We will discuss the New Teacher Group Problem Solving Committee and the Tuning Protocol in another blog entry.

On tomorrow's blog post we will discuss  this question: what are the categories of skills a mentor teacher should possess to help the mentee grow?

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