#week2 When should a mentor of teacher-research be directive, if at all? #week2


Richard Smith
 
Edited

Just a reminder that the activities for this week in our EVO are here: 
https://groups.io/g/Mentoring-TR/wiki/Week-2-%E2%80%93--starting-Jan.-19-%E2%80%93-Developing-topics-and-questions 

It may be that you're not currently mentoring anyone to do teacher-research, and/or have already moved beyond the stage of  'deciding on a topic / research questions' and/or at the present time can't find someone to have a mentoring dialogue like that in the 'Files' section ('Identifying areas of uncertainty through mentoring dialogue'). 

If so, you may find the following question more relevant to comment on - it's one that bothers me sometimes: 

'Are there times, in your experience, when it is good to be directive - though not necessarily judgmental - when mentoring teacher-research, and for what reasons / on what occasions?'


Rossana Piccini
 

This is a good question. Whether it is justified or not, I can think of cases in which it seems that being directive actually helps:
> when teachers lack confidence or agency, whether due to lack of experience or because their development towards autonomy has been somehow thwarted... In this case they might need a little 'push' as they are not used to 'thinking by themselves'.
> when teachers get stuck and don't seem to get anywhere
> when there are deadlines to be met and/or in order to stop teachers from dropping out...
It bothers me too. Collegiality and self-directedness might need to be taught
(I think I've got something about this- I'll come back later!)


Rossana Piccini
 

(cont.) Though this is not actually about research, I've written this essay for a Trainer Development course and this question was one I tried to deal with... In it, I refer to this paper*, which addresses this issue. *  https://academic.oup.com/eltj/article-abstract/67/3/302/628178?redirectedFrom=fulltext   


Elizabeth Bekes
 

Dear Rossana,

Yours is an excellent paper, I love the values underpinning it as well as the clarity and brevity. Of course, what I call the 'Alchemist effect' --"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."-- , has kicked in again, because this week we are carrying out peer observations in order to help each other identify specific issues and challenges falling under several large topics. These are done voluntarily by both observers and observees, and are considered to be of great benefit for the future of our EAR projects. I have now sent out your essay to the seven participants immediately involved, but I'm going to share it with the rest of the group. too. We are having a whole group meeting at the beginning of February, and I am hoping to find that your principled (as well as very practical) considerations will have been taken on board and contributed to providing helpful feedback to each other.


Elizabeth Bekes
 

Richard has posed an important question and, in her message, Rossana gives good examples of when a more directive approach might be good. I wholly identify with the deadlines aspect. Last week, we had about 8 hours left to submit a small research grant application and some quick thinking and firm direction was required. I set up the 'activity' so that each group member was working on a task: one on finding a couple of references and knocking them into APA format, another two filling in the form and discussing the exact wording of our responses, while I was hovering around. In the final stages, our native-speaker member had a good read through (we told her we could do it, but for us, NNESTs, it would take longer. There was a sense of immediacy about this authentic task, which seemed to energise these teacher educators: the image I shared in the last webinar intended to catch that mood.


Rossana Piccini
 

Thanks a lot, Elizabeth! I'm so glad that you have found it useful, indeed! And loved the idea of the 'alchemist effect' - it seems to prove itself over and over, doesn't it?  ♥☺

Deadlines...yes, I've had cases like the one you describe, Elizabeth,  and what you did sounds familiar too. In an ideal world, everyone should be able to learn and accomplish things at their own pace, but this is not always possible in professional life.

Looking forward to other participants' ideas regarding this interesting question.


Ravinarayan Chakrakodi
 

Yes, it is necessary to take control of the situation , to assert and to instruct at times. This happens when teacher researchers do not meet the timeline, when they highlight only positive experiences but do not share the challenges they experienced while doing research. We need to be directive when they take things for granted, when they do not show much progress in their work.
Best
Ravi


Elizabeth Bekes
 

In actual fact, Ravi, I find it almost entertaining how teachers can behave in a way that they would be most upset about in their own classrooms! I need to ask them to put away their mobiles and gently remind the PhD holder that only one person should be talking at a time... I have to disregard the fact that not everyone gets finished with the set reading and I have to remind myself to send out reminders. But, in all honesty, the more I infantilise them (by scaffolding left, right and centre), the more they behave like children! And, clearly, only I can break this cycle by changing the group dynamics.

This week there have been interesting instances of this when two of the groups needed to design tests to explore vocabulary and critical thinking. Neither of these tasks are straightforward, but I managed to give only rudimentary instructions and keep away, while letting those involved know that I am available, should they need "an extra pair of eyes". Lo and behold, they managed without me, and I'm sure we will discover a lot of interesting things when we look at the data they gathered. It's worth noting though that this was like a pilot or trial run with the main exploration / data gathering not taking place before mid-March. Knowing myself, I would have been a lot more anxious if this week had been the one and only chance of gathering specific data. We have a conference coming up in July, and there is the usual pressure to publish, so the data gathering methods will need to be well thought out and carefully designed.


SIDNEY MARTIN MOTA
 

I think that mentors should be directive when things start to go sideways, but without being too obvious that you are being directive (we could  sugarcoat it a little : )
I don't know if you understand what I am trying to say. It is true that mentors should be taking the leader role but I would try to avoid being TOO directive as much as possible. So I would try to avoid situations leading to mentors being too directive by giving clear instructions, having a fluent dialogue and so on. 


Ravinarayan Chakrakodi
 

I agree with you completely, Elizabeth. Being flexible, giving enough time especially at the initial stages of research and bringing them to track by patting them gently, recognising their efforts and then leading them forward may be worth in mentoring.
Ravi


On Sat, Jan 25, 2020, 01:18 Elizabeth Bekes via Groups.Io <ebekes=yahoo.co.uk@groups.io> wrote:
In actual fact, Ravi, I find it almost entertaining how teachers can behave in a way that they would be most upset about in their own classrooms! I need to ask them to put away their mobiles and gently remind the PhD holder that only one person should be talking at a time... I have to disregard the fact that not everyone gets finished with the set reading and I have to remind myself to send out reminders. But, in all honesty, the more I infantilise them (by scaffolding left, right and centre), the more they behave like children! And, clearly, only I can break this cycle by changing the group dynamics.

This week there have been interesting instances of this when two of the groups needed to design tests to explore vocabulary and critical thinking. Neither of these tasks are straightforward, but I managed to give only rudimentary instructions and keep away, while letting those involved know that I am available, should they need "an extra pair of eyes". Lo and behold, they managed without me, and I'm sure we will discover a lot of interesting things when we look at the data they gathered. It's worth noting though that this was like a pilot or trial run with the main exploration / data gathering not taking place before mid-March. Knowing myself, I would have been a lot more anxious if this week had been the one and only chance of gathering specific data. We have a conference coming up in July, and there is the usual pressure to publish, so the data gathering methods will need to be well thought out and carefully designed.


Anastasiia Gubarenko
 

 

Hello, Richard, Seden, everyone! 😊 

 

It’s so interesting to read others’ comments and vision here. Thanks for sharing.

 

Directive or not directive?
It’s a good question. Since I don’t mentor exactly teachers right now, I always try to apply all my mentoring skills to my current students.

As my practice shows, some direct feedback, teaching or learning can create mostly counter effects. What I mean here is that we, people, are very fragile creatures, so are our students. Hence some direct instructions or solutions might be too straightforward (though I like straightforward talks without extra beautification), but our students might accept our words too personally and it will prevent them from perceiving our words in the right way. Hence I prefer a  dialogue (as I work 1-to-1 nowadays, even when I used to work offline and had big classes, but at the moment when I had to restore a nice rapport between me and students, I talked to each student individually, trying to understand their ‘pains’ more and it did work out!). The right-built dialogue with concept Questions (here I have to master my skills, of course, you never know which set of Questions will work better with this or that student). Anyway, this process reminds me of a meeting with a psychologist: while answering their Qs, people come to the solutions like on their own with the so-called magical push from a mentor’s side :).

Thank you, Richard, for food for thought. I’m definitely rethinking and systematizing my knowledge at the current moment in terms of Question construction and tailoring them to my teaching-learning situation.

Looking forward to our webinar!
Have a nice Saturday, everyone! 📖