Characteristics of an Effective Teacher Mentor

Teacher mentorship is essential for the growth and development of staff. Oftentimes, mentorship is an afterthought and poorly executed. This leaves teachers struggling to make an impact in the classroom. Before designing a mentorship process or program, it’s important to hand pick the perfect candidates to perform the mentor duties. They are the ones that have the biggest influence on the program. The mentors determine whether or not the mentor process or program helps teachers grow their craft.

Characteristics of an Effective Teacher MentorThis post will outline the characteristics necessary to have a strong mentor in your teacher mentorship program.

Logistical Non-Negotiables

  • Same grade level or subject area (or only one grade level removed)- Understanding the content area and idiosyncrasies of teaching similar aged students will allow the mentor to provide the most accurate and effective guidance
  • Available to meet during the day (similar planning/lunch periods)- Teachers should not be required to meet outside of contracted hours, so finding time during the day is important and easier if schedules line up
  • Interested in supporting the growth of another teacher– Sometimes potential mentor candidates don’t have mental, emotional, or physical capacity to support the growth of someone else, so ensure a mentor is interested, invested, and eager to participate

Desired Attributes

  • High performing on evaluations– It will be hard for a mentor to guide the performance of another teacher, if they are not able to reach a high performance themselves
  • Leadership potential or interest– Just because a teacher is strong in the classroom, does not mean they are capable of helping someone else develop their skillset (leadership)
  • Patient, positive attitude– Growth takes time, so a mentor should naturally be patient and remain positive no matter how quick the growth occurs, so the mentee feels encouraged to keep trying
  • Strong communicator–  Mentors will be giving constructive feedback to help the teacher grow, so the need to be able to deliver clear, succinct directives
  • Good listener– Teachers will face struggles and mentors need to be able to listen well enough to determine what those areas are in order to help them problem solve

Helpful Resources

Now that you are able to identify the characteristics needed in potential mentor candidates, review the following resources related to mentorship for additional support in designing your teacher mentorship program.





What characteristics did you admire most about your teacher mentor?

About the author, Gretchen

I am a teacher trainer and coach. Working elbow to elbow with teachers and teacher leaders to ensure instructional proficiency and student achievement soar lights me up. We have a real need in our nation for strong educators to remain in the field. My blog, book, podcast, courses and instructional materials are geared towards empowering teachers (and those that lead them) to receive the support needed to grow and thrive today, tomorrow and always.