At the end of every summer a new school year begins and with it a new cohort of Cotsen mentors and fellows. To prepare our mentors for a successful year of coaching and mentoring, the Foundation offers an initial two-day training session, as well as three days of follow up training aimed toward preparing these teachers for the mentoring role in the ART of TEACHING fellowship.
The Mentor Academy was created to provide incoming mentors with the tools and resources to help fellows develop their instructional skills, and to prepare for year-round goal-setting and classroom observations. Cotsen mentors and fellows follow a coaching cycle of planning, observing, and debriefing. The mentors and fellows move through these stages to intentionally follow a line of inquiry about practice through multiple phases of planning, teaching, and reflecting on student outcomes.
“The approach Cotsen is taking with the coaching cycles seems so logical,” says Elisa Erickson, a first year Cotsen Mentor at Lampton Elementary. “The cycle keeps coming back to the main goal, supporting the fellows’ professional growth.”
Mentors perform a wide array of planning activities throughout the year related to work in the fellows’ classrooms and facilitation of monthly inquiry meetings that expand the vision of excellent teaching. Planning often leads to research for materials, readings, and learning experiences that will support the growth of the fellows and the mentor as well.
“As a new mentor my biggest concern was, how am I going to be able to manage seven fellows and meet all of their needs, but Cotsen gives you the tools and resources we will need to be successful.” says Erickson. “I feel that the new mentor academy was fantastic. It gave me the opportunity to get my feet wet and learn some important tidbits about what is expected. This is going to be a fabulous two years.”