Betty Lou Leaver, Rebecca Oxford
Mentoring in Style: Using Style Information To Enhance Mentoring of Foreign Language Teachers

Biology, Cognitive Style, Evaluation Methods, Language Teachers, Mentors, Personality Traits, Second Language Instruction, Second Language Learning

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This paper presents a new perspective on mentoring foreign language teachers. It suggests that mentoring is an essential part of a program manager’s responsibilities, but that it is important to individualize the process of mentoring if it is to be as effective as it can be. First, a definition of mentoring and issues surrounding it are discussed. Next, the key to successful mentoring—providing equal but not identical treatment—is described. The importance of recognizing style differences among individuals is addressed, including differences in personality type, cognition, preferred modality, conceptual tempo, and biology. Mentors who differentiate—mentor in style—report that the results are well worth the effort. In using style information to determine how to proceed with mentoring each individual teacher, some program directors prefer to have teachers first take one of the several available style inventories and then to discuss the validity and nature of the results with the individual teachers. Other program directors prefer to observe teachers and then to discuss their perceptions of styles with individuals. For a style-mediated program, it is recommended that style terminology or "type talk" become a part of the professional life of the program. Also recommends talking about style differences with the teaching team, building shared terminology that is nondiscriminatory in its characterization of personal differences, and providing an individualized approach to mentoring while also providing for the mentoring of the entire team of teachers in the program.

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