Mentoring and Coaching

3 March 2017

This essay will then go on to identify and evaluate a number of key factors that may influence the effectiveness of a mentoring relationship. This essay will focus on the example of mentoring within schools and a learning mentor to be more specific. Firstly this essay will look at the difference between coaching and mentoring.

Both coaching and mentoring are processes that allow both individual and schools to achieve their full potential. Coaching and mentoring share many similarities. Both coaching and mentoring explore the needs, motivations, desires, skills and feelings of the individual. Both coaching and mentoring will also use questioning techniques to try and get the individual to explore their own thoughts and feelings, without putting ideas and problems in to their head. Both coaches and mentors will look at what the individual wishes to get out of this relationship and will review this after each session.

It is the job of both the coach and mentor to observe, listen and ask questions to understand the individual’s situation (coaching network, n. d. ). The coach or mentor is responsible for making sure that the individual is not developing dependencies to their sessions that goals are trying to be achieved and that as the mentor or coach they are working within their comfort zone and the area of personal competence (coaching network, n. d. ). As can be seen above, there are many similarities between coaching and mentoring.

Mentoring, in its traditional sense is seen as an opportunity for an individual to follow in the path of an older and wiser person who can pass on knowledge, experience and open doors to otherwise out-of-reach opportunities. Coaches on the other hand may not have any experience in the same problems of the individual, however they will be appointed as an individual who has the knowledge and skills to help the individual to obtain their goals (coaching network, n. d. ) The original concept of a “mentor” was based on a character from Greek mythology, namely, Homer’s story of the Odyssey.

Within this story, a goddess appears in different forms to help guide, protect and support the journey of the main character within the story. This all knowing and powerful figure that Homer describes as “Mentor,” has shaped our modern day expectations and perceptions of what a mentor does or more importantly what a mentor should do. However, it is helpful to have a realistic understanding of what is meant when the term “mentoring” is used in today’s society (Dubois, Karcher, 2005, Chapter 2) According to Garvey, Stokes and Megginson (2009, p. 1) the core mentoring model is one of the more mature and experienced engaging in a relationship with a younger and less experienced person. This then shows true within schools. A mentoring relationship is one between the more experienced a knowledgeable ‘The Mentor’ and the one that needs support and guidance ‘The Mentee’. Crucial to successful mentoring is the building of a good personal and professional relationship. Mentors need to have a range of skills and competencies in order to be effective on their role self awareness, understanding of others, commitment to their own learning and an interest in developing others.

A mentor also needs to be understanding of the situation and environment that the mentee is in; they must have a sense of humour and good communication skills (George, 2010) The mentoring relationship does not stay the same throughout the process, it changes and progresses over time. The Mentor needs to be aware of the stages of the developing relationship. They need to be able to recognise that the mentee will have different needs and knowledge and require varying levels of support according to the stage they have reached.

A range of mentoring styles and approaches will be needed as the mentee gains in experience and the relationship enters each new phase (George, 2010) Government schemes such as every child matters; change for children are now supporting the notion of having a learning mentor in every school throughout England. A Learning Mentor is a relatively new concept in the field of education and is used within schools to support them in raising standards.

Specifically Learning mentors are placed in schools to raise pupils’ attainment, improve attendance and to reduce permanent and fixed term exclusions. Many schools have successfully implemented the Learning Mentor programme and assessed that the impact is evident on individuals and groups of pupils (George, 2010) Learning mentors tend to work on a one to one level or in small numbered groups, a learning mentor must be a good listener, be able to encourage and motivate and act as a role model and encourage the build up of a mutually respectful relationship (Hayward, 2001).

According to Hayward (2001), Learning Mentors have had an incredible impact on individual pupils’ lives, in some cases transforming low achieving and unfocused students with minimal self-esteem and a lack of commitment into more confident pupils with higher grades, improved motivation and a sense of direction. What all Learning Mentors have in common is their aim to break down barriers to learning , unlocking education opportunities for school students and releasing hitherto untapped potential (Hayward, 2001).

However there are many key factors that could mean that the mentoring relationship may not be as effective as it should be or factors that can ensure that the mentoring relationship is successful. A range of factors relate to the effectiveness of learning mentor provision. They include the skills, experience and ability of the learning mentors, how the work links to broader provision within the school and beyond, and how the learning mentor is supported and trained. The first part of an effective mentoring relationship is the match between the mentor and mentee.

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