How to Set Up a Language Instructor Mentor Program

By Jennifer Robertson Montes posted 07-05-2010 19:36


Do you have a mentor program in place for your new language instructors?  If not, you should!  Mentor programs offer a number of benefits to your department:

  • It relieves administrators of doing all the training for new hires.
  • The new instructor gets to meet one of your veteran instructors right away and can contact him or her for questions. This is especially important if the majority of your instructors are adjuncts.
  • The mentor instructors are acknowledged for their contributions to the department.

How to Set Up a Mentor Program

The first thing you need to have in place is a way to identify your top instructors.  You must also select mentors who will be objective during the hiring process and make honest recommendations to hire or not to hire.

Work with your mentors to identify your classroom facilitation criteria and create a Teaching Demonstration Score Form that all mentors will use for the application process. At the end of the form, be sure there is a space for comments with a recommendation to hire or not to hire. Set a minimum score needed to hire an applicant (and stick to it!).

Before implementing the new mentor program, have a meeting with all mentors to review the program objectives and expectations.  Have biannual check-in meetings with mentors to give and receive feedback.

When you are ready to implement the program with a new applicant, be sure that your mentor is prepared.  Notify the mentor that he or she will have a new applicant at their next class, and confirm that it is not a test day for students.  The mentor should be prepared with a detailed lesson plan for the class which outlines the activities that the new applicant will observe and the activities that he or she will actually teach.

Be sure that your applicant is prepared.  The applicant should be informed that he or she will participate in a teaching demonstration.  Have the applicant come to the mentor's class one hour in advance.  During this time, the mentor will review the lesson plan with the applicant to ensure that he or she understands what to do for the teaching demonstration.  Have the mentor inform the applicant that he or she will NOT receive the outcome of the teaching demonstration on that day.

The applicant should observe the first 30 to 45 minutes of the class before taking over.  During the teaching demonstration, have the mentor complete the Teaching Demonstration Score Form and turn in the form to program administration when done.  The mentor can ask students what they thought of the applicant as well and make notes on the form.

Have a payment system in place so mentors get a stipend payment for every applicant they mentor.  If the applicant is hired, assign the mentor to do all the initial training with the individual.  Be sure that the mentor receives payment for his or her time.  Have the mentor be the new hire’s first point of contact for any follow up questions concerning internal procedures, curriculum, classroom management, ideas, etc.

Hiring the right instructors is critical for a successful language program and having an effective mentor program in place will help ensure that success.  Look for more articles in the future on this topic at: