Thursday, May 5, 2011

The BEST Mentoring Experience: A Framework for Professional Development

ANNOTATION: The BEST Mentoring Experience: A Framework for Professional Development

Kortman, S, & Honaker, C. (2001). The best mentoring experience: a framework for professional development. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.

Kortman and Honaker's book is based off of the mentor and induction teacher training program they developed for the College of Education at Arizona State University: “Beginning Educator Support Team” or “BEST.” The program itself is a 3-year program that has four components: BEST for Beginning Educators, BEST Classroom Visitation Support, PEP—Professionals Evolving Practice, and BEST for Mentor Teachers. The program started in the 1990's to support new educators in the Phoenix area but grew quickly to work with educators across the state and even out of Arizona. The book was published in 2002 so the BEST program itself may be quite different (or extinct) by now, but the book provides “research based, developmentally appropriate activities for the support of the mentor teacher” (p. xii). The book is a blend of research-based theory behind mentoring and sample resources such as timelines, checklists, worksheets, and journal pages that can be used in whole or in part for a mentor/induction program. The topics covered include:
  • Beginning the Year Successfully
  • Creating Positive Interactions With Students And Parents
  • Balancing Teacher Stress
  • Developing Corrective Discipline Strategies
  • Accommodating Student Differences
  • Understanding Standards for Teachers
  • Celebrating BEST Practices in Teaching
  • Closing Down the School Year
The book is well organized, full of usable resources, and to the point. Each chapter includes a suggested calendar, professional development plans, and forms, activities, reflection questions, templates etc. to use. The book concludes with 2 ½ pages of additional resources and references.

Kortman and Honaker are obviously experts on the BEST program as they developed it themselves. Both are professors at the University of Arizona with many years experience as educators and as mentors and thus the BEST program is comprehensive and extremely practical and user-friendly. They incorporate articles and research from others in the field to back up the theories behind quality mentoring and the BEST program itself has been subject to research to create a truly research-based program. Although they are biased to their own program, I found their work credible because it was built upon the work of many others in the field as well as on their own very valid knowledge.

In designing a mentoring program for Magnolia, I wanted examples of how other programs train their mentors. The BEST program, being a three year program, can't fit into our two year calendar, but I was able to make informed choices about which elements to integrate based on the theory and research explained and the plethora of resources. I was able to look at actual forms, suggested timelines, and planning tools that helped me visualize what the Magnolia program could accomplish in two years. I directly used several ideas and articles from the BEST program in developing Magnolia's Teacher Induction Program.  

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