August 2008
Vol 5 No 8

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Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.5 No.8 August 2008

Cover Story by Alan Haskvitz
NCLB/Poor Teacher Training:
End of Gifted Education?
The most at risk students in the nation are the gifted. Here’s why.

Harry & Rosemary Wong: Effective Teaching
A Computer Teacher Shows the Way

»Tools for the Coming School YearCheryl Sigmon
»Get the Most Out of Being Mentored - Part 2:Take ResponsibilityHal Portner
»Get Set for the Best Year Yet!Sue Gruber
»UPDATE!! Hooray! I did it!Sue Gruber
»"Getting to Know Each Other"Activities, part 1Leah Davies
»School is a VerbTodd R. Nelson
»5 Classroom TipsMarvin Marshall
»The Busy Educator's Monthly FiveMarjan Glavac
»Dear Barbara - Advice for SubsBarbara Pressman

»Who’s Cheating Whom? (Part 2)
»Responsibility Equals Participation
»The Classic Pirate
»August 2008 Writing Prompts
»UNESCO Survey Finds Underprivileged Children Also Disadvantaged in the Classroom
»Good Grades Are Nice – But Mastery is Better
»A Teaching Guide for Libby Bloom
»Brain Based Learning Chat Transcript with Dr. Daniel S. Janik
»Being Mentored Chat Transcript with Hal Portner
»6 Traits Writing chat
»Make the Call!
»High School Physics - "First" or "Last" - Must and Can Be Mathematical

»What would you do...
»Printable Worksheets & Teaching Aids
»A Candle of Inspiration: August 2008
»School Photographs for August 2008
»Lessons, Resources and Theme Activities: August 2008
»Video Bytes: Mathmaticious, Stand up for P.E.!, Becoming a teacher and More
»Today Is... Daily Commemoration for August 2008
»Live on Teachers.Net: August 2008
»The Lighter Side of Teaching
»Apple Seeds: Inspiring Quotes for Teachers
»Lighting a Spark About College
»Newsdesk: Events & Opportunities for Teachers


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published by the Teachers.Net community
Editor in Chief: Kathleen Alape Carpenter
Layout Editor: Mary Miehl

Cover Story by Alan Haskvitz

Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong

Contributors this month: Alfie Kohn, Marvin Marshall, Cheryl Sigmon, Marjan Glavac, Todd R. Nelson, Hal Portner, Leah Davies, Barbara Pressman, Tim Newlin, James Wayne, Alan Haskvitz, Bill Page, Amy Otchet, James Burns, Michael Olson, Stewart E Brekke, Barb Stutesman, Ron Victoria, Joan Masters, and YENDOR.

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Meeting Transcript

Being Mentored Chat Transcript
with Hal Portner

A wealth of information about how to make the mentor - protégé relationship work effectively… the transcript of a live, professional development chat with author Hal Portner, with printable resource!
Get the Most Out of Being Mentored
August 1, 2008

A Teachers.Net chat with Hal Portner

Get the Most Out of Being Mentored

A Summer Learning Camp for Teachers Professional Development chat with Hal Portner, author of Being Mentored - A Guide for Protégés and Mentoring New Teachers (Corwin Press).

June 25, 2008

Printable handout to accompany the chat

Teachers.Net - Hal Portner is known throughout the country as a consultant, the author of many books, including Being Mentored - A Guide for Protégés and Mentoring New Teachers, both published by Corwin Press, and is a regular contributor the Teachers.Net Gazette. Please bookmark and visit Hal Portner's web site for additional information.
Kathleen - Thank you, Hal Portner for conducting this session!
Kathleen - Welcome to this Summer Learning Camp event for Teachers.Net educators! Presenter Hal Portner will lead this workshop on how to "Make the Most of Being Mentored." But Hal won't be doing all the talking… your discussion is an important component of this event, so be sure to post your questions and comments throughout the hour.
Kathleen - Please turn up the volume on your computer speakers then click here to view Hal's 30 second video greeting:
Hal Portner - Good morning, all. If you have recently been hired — or expect soon to be hired — as a first year teacher, welcome and congratulations! You have entered — or are about to enter — one of the world’s noblest, most gratifying professions.
Hal Portner - Also, please join me in thanking the good folks at Teachers.Net, for the opportunity to meet and chat about mentoring. I look forward to our spending the hour together.
JK - I appreciate Teacher's Net for having these chats. Especially as a private school teacher where we do not get to attend workshops and things. It is up to me to continue learning as I teach.
Kathleen - Is anyone here currently assigned a mentor?
lucy - Yes...and I'm really looking forward to working with her.
JK - I had a mentor last year, but she left this year. Don't know what the plan will be this year. Actually, I had her as a mentor for the last two years.
Hal Portner - To start things off, in many instances, new teachers won’t meet their mentors until the first day of teacher orientation. Don’t wait until then. If at all possible, find out before the school year begins who your mentor will be and how to contact her or him. Introduce yourself. Arrange to meet. If you do have the opportunity to meet and have no particular agenda other than to get acquainted, then let the conversation take its own course.
lucy - I conducted a long term substitute position in the classroom next door to her two years ago, and she was such a big help
Mary - How many states require that new teachers are assigned a mentor?
Kathleen - It does seem important for the mentor and the protege to establish some relationship before the hectic beginning of the school year
Hal Portner - Most states do, Mary, and fortunately many stipulate that it be a TRAINED mentor.
pizwit - I am just wondering if there will be another session like this. I have just completed my Teacher Support Specialist endorsement and will be mentoring from now on
JK - I am not a "new" teacher. Was new to the school, however. Now, there will be a "new" to the schoolteacher next door to me. However, she has way more experience than I do. I hope to learn from her, even though I am sure I will be asked to help her adjust to the school.
Teachers.Net - Interesting point, that a "new" teacher can be new to the profession or new to the school. Either way, support is crucial.
Teachers.Net - pizwit, we hope to do more on this topic.
Hal Portner - The better mentoring programs also arrange mentoring for experienced teachers new to a school.
Mary - Jk, you can help her with school procedures and where to find what she needs,

JK - I do hope to be a help to her. I have already purchased a little something to leave on her desk with a card to welcome her.
Kathleen - Hal, is there an amount of time you recommend per week for meeting with mentor?

Hal Portner - Kathleen, even 5-10 minutes is worthwhile, but each situation stands on its own.
JK - It was a big help to have a mentor. I always had a go to person. And sometimes a school forgets to let you in on the little things that everyone else knows about because they haven't changed in years. As a new teacher, you are like, what is going on? So it was great to have someone to go to.
lucy - I have the feeling mine with be very it was when I conducted my long term sub position. I'm guessing it will likely be up to the two of us to meet
JK - Lucy, it was up to us to meet, also. Very unstructured. Luckily, our conference times correlated.
lucy - how often did you meet JK?

JK - depends on what was going on. If it was a crazy busy time of year, every day! Otherwise, just about once a week.
lucy - Since this time - I'll be on the OTHER side of her - I was hired as a first grade teacher for the fall (YAY!) I feel like there will be a lot of just popping our heads into each other's rooms
Mary - When I was a mentor, years ago, there was a set curriculum that we had to follow and a set minimum amount of time to meet each week. Is it still like that?
Kathleen - It seems there should be some set schedule or minimum amount of time expected, right? Otherwise it could be easy to put off meeting, or the protege might feel reluctant to "bother" the mentor.

lucy - hit the nail on the head. I do fear that I might be bothering her.
Hal Portner - Early in your relationship with a mentor, discuss expectations and what you would like to get out of the mentoring experience. Schedule meetings and agree on objectives for the relationship. Sort out roles and boundaries. Set schedules. Present your positions and feelings honestly so that there will be no false assumptions.
JK - I am planning on moving into the public school system in one year. What should I expect in terms of a mentor. I will greatly need the guidance after teaching private for seven year.
lucy - So I should likely ask her if we could have a 'set' meeting time each week?
Kathleen - Hal, your handout is good guide for beginning the process. Is there an agenda available to help structure the meetings between mentor and protege?
JK - I would ask for a set meeting time and schedule it into your lesson plans.
lucy - Thanks, JK
JK - Hal, on your handout, under "Take Responsibility" you have listed, Feedback and How to Receive it. I never received feedback. That is what I need to know. How to get feedback so I could make improvements, etc.
Hal Portner - Lucy, Your mentor's responsibility is to listen to and help you. Your mentor’s responsibility is to provide you with feedback that is descriptive rather than evaluative, specific rather than general, solicited rather than imposed, and timely; i.e., given as soon after the event as possible. In order to receive feedback when you want it, you need to request it; that is your responsibility. In order to benefit from feedback, you need to be open to hearing it; that, too, is your responsibility.
melissa - it sounds like something that I can use with my student teacher
Kathleen - Good point, Hal. Wouldn't the relationship between student teacher and master or coop teacher have similarites to that of mentor and protege? What would be (any?) important differences?
melissa - Never really had a mentor but getting a student teacher and each time I want to make it a better experience for all
Hal Portner - Student teachers need to be mentored pretty much the same as "newly hired" teachers
Teachers.Net - What some of the "important ground rules" that should be established, Hal?
Hal Portner - The most important difference regarding a student teacher is the question of confidentially, since the cooperating teacher is involved in the student teacher's evaluation and grade.
pr - Hi, saw this and thought I would look in, if you don't mind
JK - What is your advice to a protégé with a dysfunctional mentor relationship? Say he/she is not happy at the school or is a gossip or is not helpful in any way.

Kathleen - Who should be mediator if the relationship is dysfunctional?

Hal Portner - Some more about receiving feedback: • focus on what is being said rather than how it is said;
Hal Portner - focus on feedback as information rather than as criticism;

Hal Portner - probe for specifics rather than accept generalities; and focus on clarifying what has been said by summarizing the main points to the satisfaction of all parties.
Kathleen - Who should be mediator if the relationship is dysfunctional?
Mary - I was just going to ask that same question about Dysfunctional Mentoring Relationships

JK - That is a good question Kathleen
Hal Portner - Regarding a dysfunctional relationship: some programs have a mentor coordinator who usually deals with issues like this.
Mary - Is there such a thing as a head mentor?
JK - My fear of going over my mentor would be to "black ball" myself in a way
lucy - What if you have an 'overly eager' mentor...who, though is WONDERFUL in every way...spends LOTS of time 'chatting' after school - and you're on a schedule, trying to get work done?
melissa - I was hoping that if things were dysfunctional, as the mentor teacher I could ask someone else to step in
Kathleen - Hal, if there is no such coordinator, small school, to whom should the protégé turn?
melissa - Maybe turning to the team leader or someone else, you can't learn from too many people
Hal Portner - JK, a properly trained mentor will always honor your request for involvement.
Mary - Mentor coordinator could be a tough job if things are going down hill. I suppose that doesn't happen very often, does it?
Kathleen - I wonder how many mentors receive training.
Mary - I did years ago, I hope it's still that way.
melissa - When I was hired into my district 2 years ago they never offered a mentor, somtimes it would have been nice just to ask basic questions such as where do I get supplies
melissa - I would love to have mentor training for myself to be better prepared
Hal Portner - If a mentor/mentee pair is not working out, it's best to agree to a "no fault divorce."
Kathleen - Hal, how much of being mentored involves observing the mentor teaching. And how much is having the mentor observe the protégé?
Cindy - I have a question about 'Get to Know Your Principal.' I just finished a year long practicum (MSEd program, I'm a career changer) and feel I had NO relationship whatsoever with the principal. What should I have done this past year or what to do this coming year? (Not sure where I'll be working yet, I'm interviewing now)
Kathleen - Hal has a book that would help you prep to be a mentor, too.
melissa - What it the title of that book, I may have to check it out.
Teachers.Net - Mentoring New Teachers (Corwin Press).
Hal Portner - Understand that you not only have the responsibility, but also the right, to ask your mentor for help.
pr - My district has a new policy and is requiring teachers to go through a training to be a mentor or master teacher. Has anyone heard about this?
melissa - I think so many students come into their first job so overwhelmed that they don't know how to ask for help
Hal Portner - Be comfortable about asking other teachers for help. Ask for help in ways other than verbally. Be willing to ask teachers outside your school and district for help. Respect your right to ask for help as long as you do not infringe on the rights of others by doing so.
Mary - Do most states fund the mentor programs in the individual school districts?
Kathleen - I can imagine myself being reluctant to "bother" a busy teacher who is my mentor, so if I were the protégé I'd want a firm minimum schedule of meeting times.
melissa - I love having friends outside of my district because it allows me to chat with them about new things
melissa - I know in our schedule we have scheduled team time each day. Very helpful
Kathleen - Maybe a cute red flag memo could be designed so that a mentee could fill it in and leave it in the mentor's mailbox as a way to signal help is needed outside the regular meeting times.
Hal Portner - Funding? No, most states do not, although some are considering it.
JK - So, at the beginning of the year, I should be prepared to set up meeting schedules with my mentor, and ask what questions? What would be a standard list of questions to ask?
lucy - Kathleen...I agree...I think I'll ask about doing that - setting up schedule
Mary - Thanks Hal, that's a shame. If it is required, it should be funded to insure that it occurs.
melissa - With my student teacher, I am doing a notebook to start writing questions both ways and to keep record of informal observations
pr - The handout address went by while I was on the phone could someone repost?
Mary - Handout:
Kathleen - Hal, would you expand upon "Expand your view" under "Observe" on your handout.
JK - Melissa, that sounds like a good idea. A correspondence log. A nonintrusive way of offering feedback and asking questions.
Hal Portner - Identify teachers other than your mentor whom you would like to observe. Try to arrange opportunities to observe others when invitations to do so are not forthcoming. Inform the principal of any observation visits you plan to carry out. Withhold judgment until you have had the opportunity to reflect on and consider what you have observed.Focus on a particular aspect of the class or lesson you are observing.
melissa - That was some of the feedback that I got from another student teacher, they wanted to know why I did something in the lesson but did not want to interrupt
Teachers.Net - Author and teacher-support expert Hal Portner is hosting this hour-long chat on the topic "Make the Most of Being Mentored."
Hal Portner - Here are some observable teaching behaviors on which you can focus. How does the teacher establish and maintain a positive social and emotional atmosphere in the learning environment. Example: the teacher demonstrates patience and acceptance of students through positive verbal and non-verbal exchanges. How does the teacher create a climate that encourages all students to achieve? For example, the teacher exhibits expectations for success by communicating expectations through approaches to assigning tasks, rewarding student effort, and providing help and encouragement. To the extent it is under her or his control, how does the teacher establish a physical environment that is safe and conducive to learning? For example, the teacher has arranged chairs, desks and tables in such a way as to allow for group interaction while at the same time, providing for rapid and safe movement in and out of the physical space formed by that arrangement. How does the teacher communicate and reinforce appropriate standards of behavior for the students?
JK - Is there a simple list of recommended questions to ask your mentor to begin the new year?
Mary - JK, that would be very helpful
melissa - Maybe ask them who they would suggest outside of the district to observe
Hal Portner - Where personalities and schedules permit, attend workshops and meetings together with your mentor. Engage in informal conversation about teaching, politics, sports, or books — perhaps over coffee or lunch, even while jogging or playing golf. Using e-mail to keep in touch is also effective. All too often, mentors and protégés tend to limit their interactions to the routine, whereas expanding the venue of the relationship can add to its depth, and therefore its effectiveness.
Mary - Like when you go to the doctor, make a list so you don't forget something significant
lucy - Maybe we could brainstorm a list here, together?
Kathleen - Hal, one of your chapters in the book "Being Mentored" is Give Back...
melissa - I agree that is very important to know the person personally not only educationally
Mary - Maybe the mentor should have a folder made up for the mentee with basic info about the building...where to find things...who to ask, etc
JK - Mary, making a list would be a good idea. I just wonder what kind of questions. Like, where's the supply closet? How do I upload my lesson plans? How often do I send home student progress reports?
melissa - Mary that sounds great, almost the same info you would leave for a long term sub
JK - Mary, I like the folder idea!
Hal Portner - As I suggested earlier, Early in your relationship with a mentor, discuss expectations and what you would like to get out of the mentoring experience. Schedule meetings and agree on objectives for the relationship. Sort out roles and boundaries. Set schedules. Present your positions and feelings honestly so that there will be no false assumptions.
lucy - Mary...that's a great idea
lucy - How often are staff meetings...
lucy - copier access…
JK - copier codes
melissa - Do people socialize outside of school
lucy - tips on observations
melissa - Can I borow technology for certain activities if so how
Kathleen - questions would run the gamut from lavatory procedures to how to have a disruptive student removed from the classroom
JK - tips on classroom management, or is there a school wide policy for management
melissa - LOL just another question to ask
Mary - Along with discussing, I think things need to be written down, so the forgetting factor doesn't cause problems.
Hal Portner - There are some resources that would be helpful to a new teacher if only they were available. An example of one such potentially valuable resource that is usually nonexistent or hard to find is a tangible collection of insights about the culture and atmosphere of the new teacher’s school and community. If your school has a booklet, a CD/video, or an annotated scrapbook that portrays the school’s unique personality and special qualities, by all means procure and file a copy. If not—or even if it does—the next exercise will prepare you to introduce your mentee to the special qualities of his or her new working environment.
Kathleen - Hal, is there posted or printed somewhere a list of questions protégés should ask their mentor?
lucy - something else to ask about...policies on class newsletters (do they need principal review first?) what to include in a newsletter
melissa - lucy: or anything that is being sent home
Kathleen - Sounds like a good activity in addition to establishing a mission statement, to compile the sort of resource about the school, as described by Hal
Hal Portner - Write a short description of the mentee’s school and community in terms of their special characteristics and qualities, rather than demographics and statistics. Include maps, photographs, and sketches. Complete the following sentences to focus your thoughts.
Cindy - If you get a job offer early in the summer, is it typical to be assigned a mentor then, or does that wait until the opening weeks of school?
Kathleen - I'll bet area businesses would fund a project like that
JK - I used to have my mentor proofread everything I sent home. Especially if it was to a parent that had gotten under my skin. I always had to edit it because I tend to put in too much emotion. :0) It was a great resource for me and saved me a lot of heartache.
melissa - Great idea Kathleen. I may have to look into that, but our district is very small
JK - Hal, I like the idea of including maps
Hal Portner - Other things to include: The students in this school. . . Their parents . . .The teachers in this school . . .The nonteaching professional staff, secretaries, and custodians . . .The school’s major claim to fame is . . .The first thing that would inspire a stranger upon entering the school is . . .Teaching in this school is like . . .The surrounding community is . . .Some interesting places in town are . . .Local community support for education comes from . . . in the form of . . .
Teachers.Net - How to get supplies, a timeline of responsibilities (ordering, faculty meetings, recycling, food policies, handbooks)
Mary - I think most schools have info like that, it's just tucked away somewhere. You have to keep asking until someone remembers where it is.
JK - You definitely need the name of the custodian! Make him/her your friend!!!!
melissa - teacher handbook
JK - Mary, that's just it! It's tucked away, and nobody knows where it is, and by the time they find it, you don't need it anymore because you've figured it out on your own!
Kathleen - I urge mentors and mentees to keep journals, keep copies of all written communication, for future reference and for assistance in writing up guidelines for future new teachers and mentors
Kathleen - As Mary suggested, a file
melissa - As the mentor maybe have something special for the mentee on the first day, school flowers, chocolate a nice way to end or start the day
Hal Portner - Oops, we're running out of time. Please feel free to email me to ask questions or offer suggestions
JK - Keep journals for yourself, too. I have had to use mine many times to back up my position on certain things in class. But I had written down the date and detailed explanation of the happenings, so I was covered.
Kathleen - "Be Your Own Mentor" article by Hal Portner In printable version:
JK - Thanks for you time today, Hal.
Mary - Does Teachers.Net have a Chatboard for Mentors and Mentees?
Kathleen - for Master Teachers. The entire Mentor network:
melissa - Thanks for all of your advice Hal. I appreciate it
Kathleen - Hal, the most important thing to remember about being mentored is ....?.....
Hal Portner - Responsibility to Yourself. It is difficult to establish a healthy, safe, and nurturing classroom environment if you yourself are not well centered. Christopher Markofski, a first-year kindergarten teacher in Washington, insists that "Teachers can’t forget about the importance of their own mental, [emotional] and physical health or they will fall apart. Find time to go out with your colleagues to talk about mutual ideas and problems — let off steam. There are tons of kids sneezing and coughing on you every day. You need to be healthy to be a good teacher.
Kathleen - Here's a gift for all: "Be Your Own Mentor" article by Hal Portner in printable version:
Hal Portner - Bye, all, and thanks.
Kathleen - Thank you, Hal Portner for conducting this session! I hope we can do another on this topic later this summer.
Kathleen - And watch the chatboards and mailrings for announcements of future chat topics

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