What Questions Should New Teachers Ask Their Mentors?

So you’ve got a mentor teacher, and he or she is ready to answer your questions! Unfortunately, you’re not quite sure what those questions are yet. Here’s a list of no-shame-in-asking questions to help start the conversation.

 

Before we start, here are three good ways to use this list.

1. If you’re working with one specific mentor teacher… make an appointment to sit together for a one-hour brain-picking session. Copy and paste all of these questions onto a WORD document. Ask as many of these as apply. Take notes. Ask followup questions as needed.
2. If you’re looking to build a board of (teaching) advisors… forward this list to a few different people. Ask if they’ve got five minutes to answer any of the questions. Or, send different questions to different people. As you get answers, you’ll also start to get a sense of who to approach with different kinds of questions.
3. If you’re meeting all the experienced teachers in your school in the same week… keep this list in mind. Many teachers will say something along the lines of, “feel free to ask me if you need anything!” Usually, beginning teachers nod enthusiastically and say they sure will, but they think they’ve got everything covered for now! Then they slink off to their own classroom where they can have a panic attack in private. A more productive way to handle these offers for help, which are almost always genuine, is to say, “actually I do have one question…” Then ask one of these.

Okay, here are some good questions to discuss with experienced teachers before the first day of school.

  • Is there a specific discipline system that everyone on our grade level (or school) uses?
  • What do I do if a student refuses to follow directions on the first day of school?
  • Do you have procedures you’d recommend for any of these classroom routines?
  • How many grades do we need to have in our grade book by report card day (which probably falls in October)? Do you have any advice for staying up-to-date on grading?
  • What school supplies should I expect students to bring on the first day?
  • What school supplies should I ask for in the first week?
  • What subject matter should I teach on the first day?
  • Can I see your first-day lesson plans?

Is there anything else that should be on this list? Please use this one-question survey to let me know.

P.S. You can now get your copy of Adequate Yearly Progress: A Novel!

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