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Mentoring Teachers Toward Excellence: Supporting and Developing Highly Qualified Teachers.

MENTORING TEACHERS TOWARD EXCELLENCE: Supporting and Developing Highly Qualified Teachers. Judith H. Shulman (Editor), Mistilina Sato (Editor), Sharon Feiman-Nemser (Foreword). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006. (Published in Partnership with WestEd.) 304 pp. $32.00. "Mentor" generally connotes a knowledgeable educator helping a novice or beginning teacher develop, thereby acclimating the new teacher to a new profession and or school setting. Shulman and Sato take a very contemporary view of mentoring as it applies to National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs). "The cases in this book represent the notion of mentoring more broadly ... by focusing on the relationships between teachers who would consider themselves peers or colleagues, and between professional developers and experienced classroom teachers" (p. 1).

The book consists of 14 case studies, divided into six parts. The cases from the mentors concentrate on such topics as: The Role of the Mentor, Vision of Accomplished Teaching, Complexities of Effective Mentoring, Structuring Group Process, Setting Boundaries, and Mentoring One's Colleagues. The reader gains insight into the mentoring process, which partly involves educators setting out on a one- to three-year journey of written reflections, videotaping lessons, and critically evaluating their pedagogy, using national standards as a guide to demonstrate mastery in their area of expertise. The mentors are quite explicit in detailing their thoughts and actions within each case.

The chapter divisions help the reader evaluate each case: the "Case" as presented by the mentor and "Commentaries" by professionals in the field who evaluate the case and pose possible outcomes that the mentor might have opted to use. Generally, two commentaries are provided, offering different views. Finally, the chapter ends with "Teaching Notes," a short summary of the case including issues and questions raised. Mentors will benefit the most from this section, as it prompts them to evaluate their own mentoring style.

Certification is a way for teachers to sharpen their skills and receive recognition for the excellence they bring to the classroom; many times, it allows them to receive advanced pay. The editors aptly address the pressure and stress some teachers feel in the process of obtaining certification for this advancement. They note that school districts are encouraging certification and even helping to fund teachers and mentors for their faculty, thus adding another dimension of responsibility to the mentor. Yet, the outcome is based on the teachers' desire, organization, and thorough documentation and demonstration of their expertise expected within the standards.

Critically thinking and addressing personal pedagogy is a difficult thing, and so a mentor plays a key role as teachers embark on the journey for excellence. Mentors are advisers, cheerleaders, coaches, confidants, and sometimes even the conscience for the teacher during candidacy. The issues discussed in this book will help mentors understand their roles and responsibilities. Reviewed by Lorene Hall, Student Teacher Supervisor at Trinity International University-Florida and Ph.D. student at Barry University, Miami Shores, FL
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Author:Hall, Lorene
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 22, 2007
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