Skip to content

Mentor Reflective Essay Rubric

Due to copyright law, several readings cannot be hosted on this site. However, we encourage you to ask for assistance locating materials from your library media specialist. Many library services are freely
available to educators.

A Case Study using Formative Assessment

The authors share the results of a sixth grade science teacher’s action research study examining how to accurately assess student understanding.  Through a process of planning, action, observation, and reflection, the teacher was able to use formative assessments to recognize and respond to student learning.

Kaftan, J., Buck., G. & Kaack, A. (2006). Using formative assessment to individualize instruction and promote learning. Middle School Journal, 37(4). 44-49.

View Article

NOTE: Required reading

How to Use Performance Assessments

Brualdi defines performance based assessments and explicitly outlines steps teachers can take to plan and effectively execute them in their classrooms. She walks the reader through choosing an activity, defining the criteria, creating the rubric, and assessing student performance.

Brualdi, Amy (1998). Implementing performance assessment in the classroom. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 6(2).

View Article

Learning from Student Work

This article has information and a self-assessment for teachers to make the connection between student data and instructional planning. The “Quick Sort Protocol” offers an activity for mentors and new teachers to collaboratively evaluate student work as a means for assessment.

Nidus, G. & Sadder, M. (2009). Learning from Student Work. Educational Leadership, 66(5).

View Article

Informal Assessment for English Learners

This article highlights both performance-based and portfolio assessments. Readers are given examples of commonly used activities for reading and speaking assessments in addition to ideas of what teachers can include in student portfolios.

Colorado, Colorin (2007). Using informal assessments for English Language Learners

View Article

Five Strategies for Formative Assessment

This research brief highlights key strategies teachers can use as building blocks for designing formative assessments. Embedded within the article are illustrative examples of the strategies and research data to support its effectiveness.

Wiliam, Dylan (2007). Five key strategies for effective formative assessment. National Council of Teachers of Math: Assessment Research Brief.

View Article

NOTE: Required reading

Quick and Easy List of Informal Assessments

This 3-page PDF offers a quick and easy list of possible informal assessment “look fors”–everything from hand signals (thumbs up/down) to quick-writes. Great for use as you work with new teachers on different ways to check for understanding throughout a lesson.

View Article

Nancy Fichtman Dana, Ph.D.

Visit Expert’s Website

Nancy Fichtman Dana, Ph.D., wrote the book mentoring—literally! She’s author of The Reflective Educator’s Guide to Mentoring (2007) and several other books about teachers’ professional learning. She is a Professor at the University of Florida and studies teacher learning.

Nancy Dana highlights ways new teacher mentors can guide beginning teachers in focusing on student achievement. She tells how mentors can use data to focus mentoring discussions on student learning.

Nancy Dana highlights ways new teacher mentors can guide beginning teachers in focusing on student achievement.

Steven Athanases

Visit Expert’s Website

Steven Athanases, Ph.D., co-authored Mentors in the Making: Developing New Leaders for New Teachers with Betty Achinstein (another expert contributor to MentorModules.com). Dr. Athanases is a Professor at the University of California in Davis and conducts research on educational equity and teacher education.

Steven Athanases shares advice on specific strategies that teachers can use to gather qualitative data on struggling students. Teachers need to become “pattern finders,” he says. A mentor can help new teachers look over data and find the patterns in students’ learning. These patterns can inform teachers as they try to improve instruction.

Steven Athanases shares advice on how to gather qualitative data on struggling students.

Elizabeth Wilkins

Visit Expert’s Website

Elizabeth Wilkins, Ph.D., is a Professor at Northern Illinois University. Her research focuses on teacher induction and mentoring. She wrote the New Mentor Workbook (published by Kappa Delta Pi).

Elizabeth Wilkins shares her perspective on how mentors can guide beginning teacher growth with a focus on student achievement.

Elizabeth Wilkins shares her perspective on how mentors can guide beginning teacher growth with a focus on student achievement.

Betty Achinstein

Visit Expert’s Website

View Betty Achinstein’s discussion of what mentors need to know and be able to do to mentor for diversity and equity. Mentors have identified four domains for mentor knowledge:

  1. Know yourself as a mentor
  1. Understand the new teacher as a new teacher
  1. Know the pedagogical approach for addressing diverse learners–including ways of assessing learners!
  1. Know the organizational context of the school.
  1. How can you, as a mentor, define assessments and data in ways that push your mentee to address all learners?

Betty Achinstein discusses what mentors need to know and be able to do to mentor for diversity and equity and shares her advice to mentors. Betty also gives a example of what mentoring for equity looks like in action.

Assessment Alphabet Soup!

New teachers will likely struggle their first year to understand all of the different assessments are required by their state, district, and school. Below, you’ll find a document from Gwinnett County in Georgia in which the purpose for each assessment is made explicit.
Download Gwinnett County Matrix document

Do you have something like this in your district? If so, share it with the new teachers. If not, consider making a similar chart to help the new teacher understand what different assessments might take place throughout the year and what purpose each assessment is supposed to achieve.

Observations Based on Data

As you work out observations with new teachers, it’s important to come to agreement on what you will focus on and what student data you’ll collect to address that focus.

In this video, a new teacher and her mentor agree on what data will be helpful in addressing the new teacher’s goal of engaging all students. Notice that this demonstration involves informal assessment data.

As a mentor, you will have to help new teachers determine when formal or informal assessments are most useful for addressing goals.

In this video, a new teacher and a mentor have a pre-observation conference. The new teacher states that she needs to work on ensuring all students are engaged in the class discussion.

Stage One: Preobservation Conference

Purpose: To set goals for the coaching cycle

Tasks:

  • Set logistics for the coaching cycle
  • Negotiate instructional content, lesson objectives, teaching strategies
  • Target instructional behaviors to be observed
  • Ask mentee for feedback focus
  • Establish trust and collaboration

The preobservation conference is an important first step in the cycle and an effective way to build trust and increase collaboration between mentors and mentees. This conference provides you with the opportunity to ask specific questions about the lesson, the teaching strategies selected, the assessment methods, the materials chosen or developed, the classroom management techniques, and the relationship of this lesson to the previous and subsequent lessons.

Your questions should allow the novice to reflect on decision making processes made in planning the lesson in order to self-assess both the strengths of the lesson plan and the possible problem areas. Once the novice has explained the lesson design and the “whys” of decisions made, you might make suggestions about the lesson, particularly if you note unforeseen problems not easily recognized by a new teacher. The last part of the conference should center on the specific teaching behaviors you will be observing during the lesson and the selection and design of a data-collection system.

Stage Two: Classroom Observation and Data Collection

Purpose: To record observable patterns of teaching and learning

Tasks:

  • Record samples of behavior that relate to effective teaching behaviors
  • Collect data systematically and objectively using descriptive language
  • Observe for specific behaviors and their impact on the learning process

Follow the preobservation conference by observing the lesson discussed, suing the observation instrument selected in the conference. Be sure to take short, objective, and descriptive notes of the performance.

If possible, incorporate videotaping: this is a strong tool for improving performance. It allows the mentor and the mentee to review the lesson and stop the video at various points to reinforce strengths and address problem areas in the lesson.

Stage Three: Analysis and Strategy

Purpose: To analyze data, identify teaching strengths and growth areas, and prepare for the feedback conference

Tasks:

  • Review the data collected
  • Relate to effective teaching research
  • Identify teaching strengths and professional growth targets
  • Develop the approach for the postconference session
  • Outline the conference format

Once you have collected the data, you must now analyze your notes and prepare for the feedback loop in the cycle. Your task might be tallying the number of times the novice did something, looking for patterns of behavior, noting a significant event in the performance, or assessing which performance indicators were demonstrated and which were not.

Based on specific data and concrete examples, you are now able to interpret the impact of the teaching performance. After this is done, you are better prepared to determine what stance to take in your postobservation conference.

Stage Four: Postobservation Conference

Purpose: To enable the mentee to reflect on the teaching performance by identifying effective teaching behaviors and those that need improvement

Tasks:

  • Establish the conference climate
  • Encourage critical thinking
  • Give positive and negative feedback
  • Collaborate on alternative positive behaviors
  • Develop a plan for the next coaching cycle

You both come together after each has had an opportunity to reflect on the lesson. You, as the mentor, must now provide feedback that is helpful without being judgmental.

Criticizing, diagnosing, and praising in an evaluative way promotes feelings of defensiveness and low self-esteem. Some effective ways to communicate to novices areas of needed improvements without creating communication roadblocks include:

  • Describing the behavior in specific rather than fuzzy terms
  • Limiting yourself to behavioral descriptions
  • Stating your description in objective terms, noting the impact of the behavior

Stage Five: Coaching Cycle Reflection

Purpose: To identify coaching strengths of the cycle and alternative behavior for mentor to improve mentoring skills

Tasks:

  • Reflect on behavior patterns for each stage of the coaching cycle
  • Ask the mentee what was helpful, what might have happened differently, and what needs to happen in the next coaching cycle
  • Summarize what needs to be reinforced and what needs to be changed

This last stage of the coaching cycle gives both the mentors and the mentees an opportunity to discuss the effectiveness of the mentoring process. When both parties hare in the analysis, this brings to the surface behaviors that didn’t work as well as expected and provides a mechanism to share concerns and reinforce effort.

The ultimate goal is to increase student achievement thorough effective teaching performance. The coaching cycle provides a systematic way in which teacher mentors can build self-esteem while inviting novices to think and behave at higher levels of professional performance.

Evaluating an Assessment

One of the things new teachers may struggle with is creating new assessments or analyzing the usefulness of assessments that they’re given. Consider taking time to work with new teachers to guide an analysis of an assessment.

Any analysis should consider:

  • What is the purpose for this assessment?
  • Does it achieve that purpose?
  • Is this a formative or summative assessment?
  • Is that the right type of assessment for the stated purpose?
  • How do children view this assessment?
  • Is there any way to make the assessment more meaningful and enjoyable for students?
  • Does the assessment allow for feedback that is meaningful (i.e., the student can use the assessment to improve future performance?)?
  • If the assessment has been used already, what information about the assessment itself can be gleaned from the students’ performance?
  • Are there items or areas on the assessment that do not provide useful information?
  • Are there skills or concepts that were supposed to be assessed but are not?
  • How might the assessment itself be improved?

Active Mentor Rubric

Purpose of this tool : Charlotte Danielson writes, ”…the ability to reflect on teaching is the mark of a true professional. Through reflection, real growth and therefore excellence are possible.” Just a effective teaching is a set of learned skills, so is mentoring. And, just as professional reflection is how teachers grow, it is also true of mentors.

This tool is designed for self-reflection on the part of the mentor. It delineates many of the expectations and skills needed by mentors who wish to be most effective in providing support for beginning teachers.

How to use this tool : This Active Mentor Rubric can be used in a variety of ways. Initially it was designed as a self-reflection tool for mentors of beginning teachers. To be used in this way, mentors simply read the qualifiers for each of the Mentor Expectations and reflect on which most accurately describes them as a mentor. It is our wish that mentors could see themselves in the “Involved” or “Actively Involved” descriptors on the rubric. This being the case, a mentor could feel assured that he or she is providing adequate to exemplary support for the beginning teacher. A mentor may also use the rubric to “score” their current mentoring practices using the points on the rubric. Directions for this are included. A scale is also provided that helps a mentor determine his or her level of active mentoring practices.

Mentors who find themselves more accurately described in the “Buddy System” or “Non-involved” descriptors might begin to look at mentoring I a new light, reflecting on how they may begin to make improvements in the mentor relationship they are establishing with the beginning teacher. Mentors who find themselves in this situation, might begin to seek out professional development in the form mentor training to assist them in developing appropriate mentoring skills. Mentor might opt for reflecting on the rubric individually or with the beginning teacher.

The Active Mentor Rubric can also be used as a tool to establish mentor expectations prior to a mentor agreeing to serve as support for beginning teachers. As mentors are being screened or interviewed, the rubric could serve as a guideline for the expected amount of involvement a mentor program will place on the mentor.

Beginning teachers might also be able to benefit from the Active Mentor Rubric tool. The rubric, when used as a tool for beginning teachers, is NOT intended as a means for evaluation of their mentor. However, as they look over the expectations of a mentor, they begin to see that, in order for his or her mentor to be “Actively Involved”, he or she must make themselves available to receive assistance and support. For example, if I want my mentor to be actively involved, I must be able and willing to meet regularly and engage in professional, reflective conversation, be willing to be observed and participate in post observation feedback sessions, as well as be prepared to answer my own questions when the mentor engages me in solving my own problems.

A final use of the rubric could be as guide for designing mentor training. Each of the mentor expectations on the rubric is a learnable, practicable skill. Professional development could be designed to help mentors acquire and practice the knowledge and skills necessary to become an “Actively Involved Mentor”.

Active Mentor Rubric

Mentor Expectations

Actively Involved Mentor

10 Points

Involved Mentor

7 Points

Buddy System Mentor

5 Points

Non-involved Mentor

2 Points

Availability

The mentor is always available to the new teacher.  The mentor frequently initiates contact with the new teacher. Regular mentor sessions are planned.

The mentor is usually available whenever the new teacher had concerns.  The mentor initiates several contacts with the new teacher.

The mentor is often available whenever the new teacher had concerns. The mentor initiates some contact with the new teacher.

The mentor is rarely available to meet with the new teacher. The mentor initiates no contact with the new teacher.

Problem Solving

The mentor frequently leads the new teacher into discovering possible solutions to problems on his or her own through asking questions and making suggestions. Occasionally, the mentor includes reference to how he or she would handle the situation.

The mentor suggests several ideas or possible solutions to the new teacher. The mentor occasionally leads the new teacher into discovering solutions and answers on his or her own by asking questions of the new teacher.

The mentor suggests several ideas or possible solutions to the new teacher. When asked for advice, the mentor often explains how he or she would handle the situation.

 

When asked for advice, the mentor exclusively tries to solve problems by telling the new teacher how he or she would have handled the situation.

Reflective Questions

The mentor frequently takes the opportunity to ask reflective questions of the new teacher. The mentor utilizes reflective questioning skills to invite the new teacher to look at his or her teaching practices with an eye for improvement. The mentor models *The Learning Cycle.

The mentor asks questions to clarify the actions of the new teacher and occasionally takes the opportunity to ask reflective questions of the new teacher. The mentor often modeled the *Learning Cycle in his or her own teaching.

The mentor asks questions to clarify the actions of the teacher but infrequently extended the questioning to include reflection on teaching practices. There is no reference to the *Learning Cycle in mentoring sessions.

The mentor does not invite the new teacher to reflect on his or her teaching. No attempt is made to have the new teacher think about his or her teaching practices. The mentor imparts his or her knowledge rather than asking questions.

 

 

Actively Involved Mentor

10 Points

Involved Mentor

7 Points

Buddy System Mentor

5 Points

Non-involved Mentor

2 Points

Confidentiality

The mentor is sensitive to and closely adheres to the “Firewall” between mentoring and evaluation. Topics and discussion from mentoring sessions are not shared with other staff or administration. Classroom observation notes become the sole property of the new teacher following reflective conferences.

The mentor closely adheres to the “Firewall” between mentoring and evaluation. Topics and discussion from mentoring sessions are not shared with other staff or administration. Classroom observation notes become the sole property of the new teacher following reflective conferences.

 

 

The mentor adheres to the “Firewall” between mentoring and evaluation. Topics and discussion from mentoring sessions are not shared with other staff or administration.

The mentor is unfamiliar with the “Firewall” between mentoring and evaluation. Topics and discussion from mentoring sessions are shared with other staff or administration inappropriately.

Feedback

The mentor engages in observing the new teacher's classroom on several occasions. The mentor provides positive peer coaching feedback that is specific and evidence based in a timely manner. The feedback is designed to increase the new teacher's teaching skills by reinforcing “Best Practices” that are observed. Feedback also includes reflective questions centered on areas for improvement.

The mentor engages in observing the new teacher's classroom at least once each semester. The mentor provides positive peer coaching feedback that was specific and evidence based in a timely manner. The feedback is designed to increase the new teacher's teaching skills by reinforcing “Best Practices” that are observed. Feedback also includes reflective questions centered on areas for improvement.

Feedback for the new teacher is based on information gathered without classroom observation. The mentor provides positive feedback, reinforcing “Best Practices”.

Feedback to the new teacher is not based on classroom observations or contact with the new teacher. Feedback consists mostly of the mentor telling how he or she would handle a situation.

Encouragement

The Mentor encourages the new teacher to try new things, expand his or her teaching skills and become actively involved with students, parents and staff. The mentor models a positive attitude toward the school, the district and the community at large. The encouragement to succeed is genuine.

The Mentor encouraged the new teacher to try new things, expand his or her teaching skills and become actively involved with students, parents and staff. The mentor modeled a positive attitude toward the school, the district and the community at large. The encouragement to succeed is genuine.

The mentor encourages the new teacher to keep up his or her hard work and efforts. The encouragement is genuine.

The mentor provides little or no encouragement to the new teacher.

 

 

Actively Involved Mentor

10 Points

Involved Mentor

7 Points

Buddy System Mentor

5 Points

Non-involved Mentor

2 Points

Knowledge of Content

The Mentor demonstrates an in depth understanding of content, pedagogy and student standards. The mentor actively interprets how the content can be put into practice in the classroom using effective pedagogy for all students.

The Mentor demonstrates a solid understanding of content, pedagogy and student standards. The mentor occasionally interprets how the content can be put into practice in the classroom using effective pedagogy.

 

 

The Mentor demonstrates a range of understanding content, pedagogy and student standards. The mentor rarely interprets how the content can be put into practice in the classroom using effective pedagogy, unless asked.

The mentor does not demonstrate an understanding of content or pedagogy, although they may actually possess it. The mentor puts no effort into assisting in understanding the subject or structure of the discipline.

Technology

The mentor frequently utilizes information age learning and technology to enhance the mentoring experience.

The mentor often utilizes information age learning and technology to enhance the mentoring experience.

The mentor has the ability to utilize information age learning and technology in the mentoring experience when asked.

The mentor’s ability to utilize information age learning and technology to in the mentoring experience is not evident.

Managing Student Learning

The mentor can effectively manage and monitor student learning for ALL students, can systematically organize lessons and frequently offers assistance.

The mentor can effectively manage and monitor student learning for ALL students, can systematically organize lessons and often offers assistance.

The mentor can effectively manage and monitor student learning, can systematically organize lessons and offers assistance when asked.

The mentor’s management and monitoring of student learning isn’t evident to the mentee.

* The “Learning Cycle” is adapted from W.E. Deming, Out of the Crisis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Engineering, (1986) The Cycle refers to

Plan

Apply

Teach

Reflect

Purpose:

The purpose of the Active Mentor Rubric is for teachers who serve as mentors for other teachers to self-reflect on the type of service and support they are providing. Through self-reflection, the mentor is able to determine how his or her approach to mentoring aligns with the standards of an active mentor. Teachers who are new to mentoring with other teachers can use the rubric as a guide for planning appropriate mentor involvement. When a mentor asks, “What do I do as a mentor?” the rubric can serve as a blueprint for involvement.

The purpose of the rubric is for self-reflection and as guide for mentor involvement, not as an evaluative tool for beginning teachers to evaluate mentors. However, beginning teachers may benefit from using the Active Mentor Rubric as a guide for their involvement in the mentoring process. The beginning teacher must be aware of the extensive role the mentor is playing in his or her development and be available and receptive to this level of support from a mentor.

Directions:

For Mentors

  • Read each description on the rubric for each mentor expectation. (Read across the rows of the rubric.)
  • Determine which description most accurately defines the characteristics of the mentor practices that you are currently exhibiting as you work with a beginning teacher.
  • Draw a ring around no more than one description that best describes yourself in each row on the rubric. Be sure to only select one description for each of the rows on the rubric for scoring purposes.
  • Once you have chosen one of the descriptions from each row on the rubric, tally up the points for the columns and determine the total score. Use the scoring information below to determine your involvement level in the Mentor Project.

Total Score

54-60 points = Actively Involved Mentor

38-53 points = Involved Mentor

28-37 points = Buddy System Mentor

2-27 points = Non-involved mentor

0 points = There was no mentor.

 

Directions:

For Beginning Teachers

  • Read each description on the rubric for each mentor expectation. Notice how much time and effort will be required for a mentor to be high involved with you as a beginning teacher.
  • Think about ways that you will benefit from the support of an active or highly active mentor. Consider how much time and effort will be required of you to be available to receive the most support. For example, in order for a mentor to provide the highest quality feedback on “Best Practices”, beginning teachers need to commit to having their mentor observing in the classroom and to the time required to hold a conference following the observation.
  • This “Active Mentor Rubric” is not intended as an evaluation tool to be applied to a mentor by a beginning teacher.

 

Developed by R. Willobee, Grand Rapids Public Schools.  Revised March 2, 2006.