Mentoring for students - film

Covered in this illustration of practice:

If a student is outpacing classroom resources or desiring increased more complex and deep learning in an area of passion, then providing opportunities for staff and/or community experts to mentor students in their specialist area can drive success and increase autonomy. As this film shows, mentoring can occur in any setting: rural schools, distance education, comprehensive schools and specialist settings, and in any subject or topic.

Mentoring programs are part of advanced learning pathways for students. They are a valuable tool to extend, challenge and inspire students across one or more of the domains. Mentoring can be a relationship between student and teacher, student and community expert, or student to student, where the expertise and passion of the mentor brings added depth, breadth, engagement and challenge to student experiences.

Mentoring for students - film

Transcript - Mentoring for students (11 minutes and 8 seconds)

[On screen text] Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that this video may contain the images, voices and names of people who have passed away

[Cheerful music]

[On screen text] The Early Adopter School journey continues...


Voice over: The New South Wales Department of Education, High Potential and Gifted Education Policy was launched in June 2019. Implementation commenced in government schools’ Term 1 2021. To support the new policy, teachers, and leaders from a range of schools representing metropolitan sites through to rural and remote sites, including networks, came together as early adopter schools to give staff time to trial, act, reflect and share what they've learned through their various school journeys.

[On screen text] Megan Lockery. Principal – Lindfield Public School

Megan Lockery: And it showed success. It meant that the teachers were taking on board the things that we were talking about

Voice over: Through the challenges of COVID 19 and school lockdowns. These teachers forged ahead with their plans to embed the new policy into their practice.

Voice over: Penrith Selective High School concentrated on teacher professional development, using action research, providing time to work with academic mentors and celebrating success with a sharing circle.

[On screen text] Jaclyn Cush. Deputy Principal – Penrith Selective high School

Jaclyn Cush: One of the key focus points for us was really around how we start to develop collective teacher efficacy.

Voice over: Their focus was on exploring the social – emotional domain with the aim to improve student outcomes.

[On screen text] Mark Long. Principal – Penrith Selective High School

Mark Long: It's just incredible the depth of what they're doing. But those conversations, so we've been strategic, we've allocated time and worked through that. We've learned a lot and sometimes you lose some skin in those leadership positions. But I think deep down, you go, we know this is going to be worth it because it's been a really consistent 5 or 6 year journey.

Voice over: Leeton High School put particular effort into communicating and supporting the aims of the new policy with their whole learning community. As a result, they saw increased engagement across the domains and improvement in academic results,

[On screen text] Sally Doig. Teacher – Leeton High School

Sally Doig: Guiding students to really take the right path for them based on their potential.

Voice over: Lindfield Public School focused on differentiation by building creativity and applying the strategies in the differentiation adjustment tool to their programming.

[On screen text] Megan Lockery. Principal – Lindfield Public School

Megan Lockery: We're seeing policy now going into practice. We didn't dwell on the policy we've got straight into practice. That's what's having the impact.

Voice over: The initiative was supported by whole school planning to identify and develop creativity in students,

[On screen text] Libby Hamilton. Teacher – Lindfield Public School

Libby Hamilton: Reflecting on the learning environment that you'd set up, reflecting on the programming that you've done. And now let's see how we can embed some critical and creative thinking.

Voice over: 7 schools around Dungog in rural New South Wales worked together as a network. They familiarised their teachers with the policy and are focusing on the assess and identify key action.

[On screen text] Michael Kelly. Teacher – Dungog High School

Michael Kelly: We've been really well supported by the department, particularly through the evaluation and planning tool. That's been a huge amount of work, but absolutely invaluable for assessing where we're at now, identifying some of the strengths that we have and didn't know we had, and also obviously for identifying some areas for development.

[On screen text] Gillian Manning. Learning Coordinator – Dungog High School

Gillian Manning: I think it's definitely about a collegial support and also sharing of skills and expertise, not having to reinvent the wheel all the time. If somebody in a bigger school has already worked something out in a program, the willingness to share that across the community and to support our smaller schools and make sure that all of our students have equal outcomes

Voice over: By working on distinct areas of implementation and then coming together to share experiences. The early adopter schools are creating these illustrations of practice, as well as Power Points located on the (High Potential and Gifted Education) HPGE web section so other schools can reflect and be supported on their policy implementation journey.

Michael Kelly: In implementing any sort of a change in a school. It's really important that all staff feel comfortable in being able to take risk knowing that their line managers, their deputies and their principals trust them. That allows them to take that educational risk to really create something that's, that's unique and matches the particular needs of their students.

[title on screen] Find the talent— Develop the potential— Make the difference

[title on screen] NSW Government logo

[title on screen] © 2021 NSW Department of Education

End of transcript.

Questions for professional learning

For school leaders:

  • Mullumbimby High School has developed a teacher mentoring student model for their subject-accelerated students to flourish. How could you identify the advanced needs of students like Amanda and Beau in your school? How could you adjust the timetable to allow for effective mentoring? How could Mullumbimby High School extend this model to be used to benefit other students who show high potential?
  • Mentoring for individual or small groups of high potential and gifted students can provide deeper and more challenging learning opportunities. As a whole school, stage or faculty activity, brainstorm a list of possible mentors to which the school has access. Consider all domains of potential. How could this list be extended? What would be the next step?
  • As a school leader, how would you evaluate the impact of the mentoring opportunities offered to students and what evidence would you want to produce to demonstrate its effectiveness?

For teachers:

  • Mentorships involve linking high potential and gifted students with a content expert, who works with them to extend knowledge and understanding in a specific topic, subject or area of interest. As well as linking Rafael to a physicist to extend his knowledge of and passion for physics, what other kind of support structures do you think would assist him to further develop his talent?
  • In what ways can wellbeing be enhanced when schools connect with and draw on the expertise, contribution and support of their wider communities?
  • How can teachers discover what a student’s interests, knowledge, skills and activities are, outside of the school curriculum, and how can they use this knowledge to engage students further in learning? How might mentorships be used to facilitate this engagement and challenge for students?
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