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Department of Education

Information for Mentor Teachers

Download the EED New Mentor Teacher Orientation Packet as a PDF.

Click on one of the links below to go directly to that question:


Who are mentor teachers?

The mentor teacher (also called cooperating, master, partner, or resident teacher) is a key player in the apprenticeship experience, serving as a model of effective teaching.

The mentor teacher observes the candidate interact with students, parents, and colleagues and helps the candidate prepare and present lessons. These activities put the mentor teacher in the best position to assess the apprentice’s strengths and areas needing improvement.

The CCTC requires mentor teachers to be:

  • a) certified and experienced in teaching the subject(s) of the class;
  • b) trained in supervision and oriented to the supervisory role; and
  • c) appropriately evaluated, recognized, and rewarded by the institution.

If you are interested in becoming a Mentor Teacher, you will need to fill out and return a Mentor Teacher Service Declaration. These forms are sent to participating schools in February each year and need to be returned to the Elementary Education Coordinator.

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What are the selection criteria for mentor teachers? 

With the support of administrators in cooperating schools, mentor teachers selected to participate in the Elementary Education program at Humboldt State University:

  • 1) are credentialed multiple subjects teachers with a minimum of three years of successful K-8 teaching experience, and at least one year of successful experience at the assigned grade level(s):
  • 2) achieve and effectively model the six standards of the California Standards for the Teaching Profession (p 53), presenting demonstration/application lessons for student teachers to observe and providing regular opportunities for them to practice and receive feedback;
  • 3) demonstrate excellent communication skills in working with students, families, colleagues, and community members;
  • 4) are committed to providing support for their apprentices’ ongoing reflection and professional development through regular communication about curriculum, instruction, classroom management, parent/family involvement, and other professional concerns; and
  • 5) are committed to their own ongoing professional development in clinical super­vision with in-services provided by the Elementary Education program.
  • In addition, mentor teachers working with English Language Learners must:
  • 6) possess valid Language Development or (Bilingual) Crosscultural, Language and Academic Development certificates or credentials;
  • 7) model effective English language development (ELD), specially designed academic instruction delivered in English (SDAIE), or development and instruction in the language of emphasis; and
  • 8) present ELD, SDAIE, and/or bilingual demonstration/application lessons for student teachers to observe, and provide regular opportunities for them to practice and receive feedback.

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How does the program meet the Standard for the Preparation of Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential Candidates for Reading, Writing, and Related Language Instruction in English?

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Standard for the Preparation of Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential Candidates for Reading, Writing, and Related Language Instruction in English requires verification that all mentor teachers are utilizing specified reading practices. The program meets this requirement through the use of a verification form signed by the administrator.

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What are the EED requirements of all mentor teachers?

Mentor teachers are required to attend the orientation meeting led by the university supervisor at their school site. The university supervisor will distribute and review the updated EED Handbook; clarify roles, responsibilities, forms, procedures and program changes; and answer questions student teachers, mentor teachers and the administrator may have. The orientation also provides an opportunity for the administrator to address apprentices regarding expectations and pertinent school site information.

In order to support mentor teachers in providing helpful feedback to their apprentice, new mentor teachers are required to attend a mentoring inservice at the beginning of fall semester. A clinical supervision video is also available for use by mentor teachers and supervisors. Viewing and discussing the video with mentor teacher colleagues and the university supervisor can be helpful .

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What are the mentor teacher's responsibilities to the apprentice?

As in any classroom, apprentices have a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. While some will easily adapt to the teaching role, other apprentices will be under stress in this new situation; all will appreciate support and guidance. Mentor teachers should strive to establish a positive professional relationship with the apprentice.  Leading the apprentice into the role of a "junior partner" in a common enterprise, equally interested in and responsible for the progress of the students in the classroom, provides helpful support for the apprentice.

Mentor teachers are required to:

  • a) Orient the apprentice to the school site, classroom, and curriculum.
  • b) Create an atmosphere of acceptance among the students by introducing the apprentice to the class as a co-teacher and by providing personal space (desk, counter space) for her/him to use.
  • c) Introduce the apprentice to fellow teachers and site personnel; monitor/assist student teacher with letter of introduction to parents or other appropriate communication with parents.
  • d) Set a specific time for conferencing with the apprentice. This will allow for open communication and discussion and usually helps prevent or solve problems that arise. Conferencing may be done in person, by phone, e-mail, written notes and/or journal.
  • e) Beginning with Phase I in fall semester and in Phase III in spring semester, transition the apprentice into greater and greater involvement with students.  From the beginning of Phase II (fall), provide ample opportunities for the apprentice to practice teaching the whole class prior to the required solo teaching (minimum of three days) toward the end of the semester. The apprentice will be completing the State mandated Teaching Performance Assessment from January through March and will need ample opportunities to practice teaching in preparation for the Teaching Event (3-5 hours of math instruction) that should be scheduled toward the end of February, prior to the regular spring semester solo teaching (minimum of two weeks). During Phases II and IV, the university supervisor, mentor teacher, and apprentice must agree as to the proper timing for solo teaching.
  • f) Be aware of the teaching competencies which apprentices need to acquire before they are recommended for a Multiple Subjects credential.
  • g) Share planning strategies (daily, weekly, etc.) throughout the year.
  • h) Provide the apprentice with professional advice and models of current instructional techniques (e.g., a balanced approach to reading instruction, GESA).
  • i) Require written lesson plans for your review and suggestions before a lesson is taught.
  • j) Keep the principal and university supervisor apprised of the apprentice’s gains in proficiency. Please inform the HSU supervisor of any difficulties that are not being resolved in a satisfactory manner. (See procedures for Performance Improvement Plan initiation and unprofessional behavior allegations on pp 18-19.)
  • k) Complete all university required assessment forms in a timely manner, including a final letter of reference for the candidate’s placement file.
  • l) Release the apprentice one day in September, October, and December to visit the spring fieldwork classroom for a full day. This facilitates building rapport and communication among mentor teacher, credential candidate, and students in the spring fieldwork classrooms.
  • m) Release the apprentice one day in April and June to visit the fall fieldwork classroom for a full day. This allows the candidate to follow the development of the fall placement students throughout the year.
  • n) Mentor teachers are strongly encouraged to provide a small amount of bulletin board space in early fall where their apprentice(s) can display photos of themselves and things they enjoy.
  • o) During the solo teaching period, be present on the school site and available for conferencing with the apprentice each day of the solo.
  • p) Following successful solo teaching by the apprentice, team teach with the apprentice, encourage visitation of other classrooms to experience more grade levels and teaching styles, and allow the apprentice to attend job interviews.

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How can mentor teachers integrate apprentices into the classroom?

Phases I & III, early fall & early spring (EED 751 & 753)

The apprentice may have a checklist of activities provided by the instructor(s) of credential course(s) designed to articulate coursework with fieldwork experiences. In general, the sequence of activities is:

  • 1) Apprentice observes mentor teacher teach particular lesson and debriefs with mentor teacher;
  • 2) Apprentice teaches similar lesson using mentor teacher’s lesson plans and debriefs;
  • 3) Apprentice writes lesson plans for similar lesson and after approval of lesson plans, teaches the lesson and debriefs.

From the beginning of Phase III, plan together with the apprentice for completion of the Teaching Event (TE) required by the State.

The Rubric for Instructional Teaching Behavior (p 52 of EED Handbook) and the Observation Summary (pp 76-77) may be useful for the apprentice-mentor teacher debriefing.

For additional integrating activities, the apprentice could: observe specific students; read aloud; help with "getting to know you" activities; lead students in/out to recess, library; take anecdotal records; work at centers; work with students one on one; read answers to math facts, homework; lead brief sponge activity; be in charge of the class for a few minutes while the mentor teacher takes a student out or makes a phone call; take running reading records, one on one; become familiar with district's curriculum and safety expectations; begin thinking about a central focus for the TE mathematics learning segment and themes for solo; explore ideas for lesson plans/unit plans for EED 752 or 754 solo; attend after school activities and meetings (PTA, IEP, staff, student study teams, in-services).

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How can the mentor teacher build on student teacher skills and help apprentices prepare for solo teaching?

Phases II & IV, late fall & late spring (EED 752 & 755)

  • a) Review the EED 752 or 754/755 assessment form (pp 58-59, 64-65 of the EED Handbook) with the apprentice at the beginning of full-time fieldwork.
  • b) Plan together with the apprentice from the beginning of full-time fieldwork for the two-week solo teaching. This can include field trip planning.
  • c) Well before the solo, give the apprentice responsibility for one subject, then several subjects, building to half-day and then whole-day teaching. The apprentice needs to feel comfortable and be capable of teaching all areas of the curriculum. A week or so before the solo, have the apprentice do most of the teaching. Provide written feedback to the apprentice. University supervisors are required to do a minimum of three clinical observations preferably prior to the solo fall semester and three clinical supervision observations preferably prior to the solo spring semester.
  • d) Ensure that the apprentice has a good grasp of your management/discipline system. Discuss with the apprentice the management/discipline plan to be used during the solo.
  • e) Discuss the role you will play during the solo. As much as possible, allow the apprentice to work independently during the solo. Some teachers prefer to be out of the classroom all of the time. Others plan to be in the room at specified times. Some teachers (usually in primary) assume the role of an aide. We encourage apprentices to invite you in at designated times to enable you to state in your reference letter that you observed specific strengths during their solo teaching. We also encourage apprentices to invite the principal, vice principal, or another teacher to observe them during their solo.
  • f) At least one week prior to the solo require apprentices to have (1) lesson plans for the solo teaching blocked out on a “lesson plan book,” or facsimile, with time slots and curriculum areas filled in, and (2) detailed lesson plans (see sample lesson plans available from supervisors) with objectives and content standards, assessments and adaptations for differentiated teaching for any individually designed lesson. These lesson plans may follow a direct instruction format, any other lesson plan format used in EED classes, or a format you suggest. You and the university supervisors are required to review apprentice’s plans for the solo. All lesson plans should provide sufficient detail for use by a substitute teacher. University supervisors are expected to observe at least once during the fall solo and twice during the spring solo.
  • g) During the solo be present at the school site and plan time to reflect/regroup with the apprentice at the end of each day.
  • h) Involve apprentices in providing feedback to students, maintaining grades, and planning for parent-teacher conferences.
  • i) Following the solo, apprentices may team-teach with mentor teachers, help determine grades, participate in special events, visit other classrooms, attend job interviews, and help with end-of-the-year activities.

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What are the mentor teacher's responsibilities to the supervisor?

  • a) Provide time (at mutual convenience) for conferences with the supervisor. These should follow each of the supervisor’s clinical supervisions. Brief contacts may follow other visits, as appropriate.
  • b) Document apprentice performances (may use apprentice contact forms, Observation Summary) to share with the supervisor and apprentice on a regular basis.
  • c) Provide time (at mutual convenience) for three-way assessment conferences (MT-ST-US) at the end of each fieldwork phase.

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What are the mentor teacher's responsibilities to Humboldt State University?

  • a) Attend a required university-sponsored orientation meeting and a clinical ­supervision workshop for mentor teachers. Other training in clinical supervision may be substituted.
  • b) Complete university-required evaluation forms promptly.
  • c) Inform the EED fieldwork coordinator of any problems between the apprentice and super­visor that are not being resolved properly.

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How are mentor teachers evaluated?

During the final assessment conferences for both fall (EED 752) and spring (EED 754/755) the apprentice, mentor teacher, and university supervisor are all evaluated. Set aside an adequate amount of time to discuss the apprentice’s progress as well as effectiveness and quality of guidance provided by both the mentor teacher and university supervisor. Formal evaluation also occurs at the end of each semester; the university supervisor and the apprentice, independently, evaluate the mentor teacher using the form on pp 72-73 of the EED handbook (also online here).


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How are mentor teachers rewarded?

Mentor teachers’ greatest rewards come from the satisfaction of helping to mentor new teachers.  They also receive HSU privileges, including HSU library privileges during the year of service, and in some cases, the opportunity to purchase a computer through the HSU bookstore with an HSU employee’s discount.  Mentor teacher privileges are based on information from the fieldwork agreement form (p 51) so the Credential Office must be notified of any changes taking place after the form is submitted.

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How can I utilize the School of Education's Expertise Directory?

The HSU School of Education Expertise Directory can be found here or via a link on the Contact Us page. The Expertise Directory is a way for faculty and staff here at the School of Education to share our knowledge and volunteer our time in public school classrooms, as a thank-you to our Mentor Teachers. As a mentor, you may contact any of the people listed in the directory and ask them to make a volunteer presentation in your classroom.

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