from many perspectives—as teachers, as learners, and as members of a community and
culture—and they encourage protégés to play an active role in their own learning process.
Mentoring is both relationship-based and content-based. Mentoring should take place
within an open and warm relationship, founded in mutual respect for what each person
is bringing to the process, but it is more than this: It is a finely tuned balance of support
and challenge, focused on encouraging reflection, change and growth. 10 Mentoring also
is focused on content through the sharing of knowledge: The mentor knows about child
development, early learning, and a range of teaching strategies, such as how to support lit-
eracy—and as a learner herself, she is also open to researching and finding out about new
areas of knowledge along with her protégé. Mentoring can be useful for anyone working
with young children, without regard to how long they have been in the field—and protégés
can be a very diverse group, with wide variation in education, skills and experience.
Activity Questions for Journal Writing
We recommend that you keep a journal of your mentoring experiences to use as a tool
for professional growth. Journal entries can be very brief—a passing thought, an anecdote,
a question, something your protégé has said—or as lengthy as needed to get a complex idea
down on paper. As you begin your work with a protégé, reflect on any or all of the following
questions, or write about them in your journal.
1. Has anyone ever been a mentor to you, whether in a formal mentoring program, an ECE
setting or another situation? Consider friends, co-workers at current or previous jobs, and
others in your community who may have served as role models.
• What did the mentor help you to learn?
• How did your mentor support you in learning?
• What qualities did you appreciate in your mentor?
• What qualities do you think your mentor appreciated about you as a protégé?
• What, if anything, was difficult about the relationship?
2. Have you been a mentor before, whether in an ECE setting or elsewhere?
• Whom did you mentor?
• What did you do to help your protégé to learn?
• In what ways did you feel helpful?
• What qualities do you think your protégé appreciated about you as a mentor?
• What qualities did you appreciate about your protégé?
• In what ways might you like to become more effective as a mentor?
3. Has your own teaching experience focused on the age group of children with whom
your protégé(s) work?
• What age level of children do you feel most confident about teaching? Infants and
toddlers? Preschoolers? Early elementary? Grades 4 or higher?
• Is your expertise at the age level of the children with whom your protégé works?
• If you have been working with older or younger children than those with whom your
protégé works, what strategies will you pursue to build your knowledge and skills?
10. Daloz, 1999.
SUPPORTING TEACHERS AS LEARNERS