What makes a good mentor?
Teachers need mentors and not just experienced ones either. We all need someone to help us hurdle challenges, achieve our goals and be a sounding board. Mentoring is vital to all learning organisations.
But not everyone is cut out to be a mentor. Mentoring is an art even though when it is stripped down to its most basic level, mentoring is about a partnership and “simply the act of helping another learn.”
“Mentors” are people (especially leaders) who engage in deliberate actions aimed at promoting learning.”…”Bottom line, a mentor is simply someone who helps someone else learn something that would have otherwise been learned less well, more slowly, or not at all.”
There are a few mentor tests out there designed to quiz us and help us work out whether we have the skills but Chip Bell’s questionnaire is probably the best known.
This is a series of 39 questions with just two possible answers and we answer them as a best-fit. This mentor scale is designed to help evaluate strengths, areas for development and tease out blind spots.
Examples of these questions include:
6. People generally see me as a person who is
a. formal b. personable
7. When it comes to social situations, I tend to
a. hold back b. jump in
8. I like to spend my leisure time in ways that are fairly
a. spontaneous b. routine
9. I believe leaders should be more concerned about employee
a. rights b. feelings
10. When I encounter people in need of help, I’m more likely to
a. avoid b. pitch-in
There are 13 questions (mixed up) that measure someone’s capacity for sociability, dominance and openness.
- People with high sociability scores will find the rapport-building and dialogue dimensions of mentoring easier.
- People with high dominance scores may be reluctant to share control.
- People with low openness scores are likely to be cautious and reluctant to share their feelings.
For a further discussion of these areas then see here.
Take the test yourself and see whether you are mentor material or whether you’d be more suited to being a coach.
See the University of Wolverhampton Business School’s handbook on mentoring.
Scottish Social Services Council – Mentoring: Supporting and Promoting Professional Development and Learning