Teacher mentoring: learning to teach with support

Imagine a medical student who is sent to be the head of a hospital ICU right after graduation? Unthinkable, right? This is the case in the teaching profession: one day you are taking notes for your bachelor's or master's degree, and the next day you are solely responsible for a classroom with dozens of students in your charge. The difficulties are compounded when it comes to vulnerable environments. Mentoring or tutoring programmes offer new graduates initial support so that they can complement their learning with the help of more experienced teachers. In this interview, they tell us how it works.

Teacher mentoring: learning to teach with support

“Someone who has had the experience of teaching in a very difficult environment will never forget what it means to learn and teach in these conditions: you know there is a very high percentage of students who have to live and be educated in very difficult conditions and you know there are teachers just starting out who are having a very, very difficult time because they don’t have the tools to help their students. This experience will guide everything you do.

These are the words of Miguel Costa, director of institutional relations of the foundation Empieza por Educar, and his is the voice of experience. A biologist by training with a PhD in neuroscience, Miguel discovered his teaching vocation while giving biology classes as an assistant professor during his PhD. He subsequently left science for teaching and joined a school with a socio-economically precarious, 85% immigrant student body. It was there where he fell in love with education for life and began a career that took him through secondary school, basic vocational training, and intermediate and higher vocational training, until 2011, when the Empieza por Educar Foundation crossed his path. The foundation was looking for experienced teachers to help other teachers who were starting their careers and who were going to work in difficult environments. He dived in head first. Until today.

In this interview, he talks about, among other things, the great need for support and guidance for teachers just starting out and how teacher mentoring programmes, which have proven effective in many OECD countries over the years, can make a huge difference.

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