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grams offer teachers a practical and supportive way to learn and grow on the job. They also offer mentors themselves an opportunity to advance in their profession and, often, to earn financial rewards for sharing their skills with others. While mentoring often takes place within the context of a formal program, teachers can form mentoring relationships on their own, perhaps with a trusted director or other colleague. Mentoring, however, is not the same as supervision. (See “The Difference Between Mentoring and Supervision,” in Chapter 3.) Mentors are skilled in their craft, creative in problem-solving, keenly observant, able to reflect on their practice, flexible in relating to other adults, ready to learn new information about the process of teaching, and willing to take risks in order to grow. 7 Mentors should have significant experience in teaching young children, with a command of relevant skills and knowledge to share with their protégés about pedagogy and how children learn. Men- toring works best when mentors have received education and training not only in child de- velopment, and the care and teaching of young children, but also in adult learning, teacher development and reflective practice. 8 Mentors are open to understanding their protégés For Mentors Without Extensive ECE Experience Ideally, mentors have significant experience in teaching young children, with a command of relevant skills and knowledge to share with their protégés about pedagogy and how children learn. In fact, a number of states have established sets of competencies, certification processes and/or training programs for mentors, coaches and other professional development providers in ECE . 9 If you do not have an extensive background—or if much time has passed since your most recent ECE experience, or if your only teaching experience is with older children—you will need to augment your own preparation in order to strengthen your competencies related to children’s learning and early childhood teaching. Consider the following suggestions: • F amiliarity with your state’s early learning standards will ground you in what your community considers to be ap- propriate standards for the learning capabilities of young children of different ages. In addition, your state’s teacher competencies for early childhood educators will give you a comprehensive picture of the knowledge and skills you will be helping your protégé develop, and will help you assess your own needs for growth and development in order to assist her effectively. • A course on early childhood curriculum and teaching may also be a good place to start. By becoming familiar with the theory and research behind different approaches to teaching young children, you will be better prepared to help your pro- tégé clarify her own assumptions as a teacher, and to offer her alternative strategies to consider. • I f you have not been an ECE teacher yourself, or have not taught recently, other strategies can help build your knowledge. The best option is to spend time in high-quality early learning settings as an observer or volunteer, even for a couple of hours per week. Direct observation or practice will give you a feel for what your protégés face, and if you taught long ago, it can refresh your memory of just how complex an undertaking it is to teach young children well. Perhaps you can visit such programs with your protégé or with other mentors, and talk about the teaching strate- gies you have observed. You might meet with one or more classroom teachers, and interview them about various teaching approaches you’ve observed them practicing. See also the listing of resources at the end of the chapter, for other ways to view teachers at work. As you begin, be sure to find out what mentor competencies, certification processes, or trainings have been established in your community or state. 7. Hall, Draper, Smith, & Bullough, 2008. 8. “Reflective practice” has been defined as “the capacity to reflect on action so as to engage in a process of continuous learning” (Schön, 1983). 9. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, & Head Start Bureau, 2005; NAEYC & NACCRA, 2011. 6 AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS