Between passing Part 1 of the Teaching Certificate and training for the Unit 5 exam, candidates have to undertake at least six hours of practical teaching with the aid of a “mentor”. The role of a mentor is therefore an essential part of the process of training teachers, and mentoring is one of a number of ways in which experienced teachers can go beyond just teaching classes of dancers.
Becoming a mentor
There is no formal process for appointing mentors, though they are required to be fully certificated RSCDS teachers. Candidates generally find their own mentor, but they may apply to the RSCDS for help. Their own Branch should be able to provide help and advice and frequently candidates will ask an experienced teacher whom they know and with whom they feel comfortable. It is up to this teacher to decide whether he or she feels sufficiently experienced to take on the role. But help is at hand; the RSCDS provides a considerable amount of information to explain what is involved in mentoring.
What do mentors do?
The “Outline for Training Mentors” explains in some detail what the mentor is supposed to do, and also what he or she is not supposed to do – while giving advice to the candidate to encourage them to reflect on their teaching, the mentor does not take on the role of the tutor. The document also provides background information outlining what is required of candidates for Unit 4. Overlapping advice is offered in X3-28 Transition from Unit 3 to Unit 4, in the sections ‘Role of a Mentor – Unit 4’ and ‘Working with a Mentor’ (pages 3-4).
The Notes on Mentoring in Unit 4 give a good summary of what a mentor is expected to do in practical terms: visiting the candidate twice to observe their teaching and being available by telephone or e-mail to give advice and encouragement.
You can download a helpful guide that was part of a presentation about mentoring given at the Teachers Conference during the 2017 AGM & Conference Weekend by Anne Robertson.
Paperwork for mentors
Please read below for information on documents that will be useful or essential for you when you are mentoring a candidate.
Candidates for Unit 4 must submit a record of their teaching practice, strictly following the required format. It is useful for you as their mentor to have a copy of X4-05 Guidelines for Preparation of Record of Teaching Practice so that you can check that their Record is compliant. When the candidate has finalised this Record, you must complete the form X4-11 Mentor's Confirmation so that he or she can submit it to the RSCDS along with their Record and other required documents.
The booklet Teaching Scottish Country Dancing is aimed principally at candidates but is also useful reading for you as mentor, to help you to focus your advice and encouragement.
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