Glenn Gonzalez is an English teacher and mentor at Sanderson Middle School in the Greater Darwin region in the Northern Territory. He has been teaching since 1995, and his experience spans beyond Australia, having taught English, Science and Mathematics in the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Los Angeles.
Since 2011, Glenn has been teaching at Sanderson Middle School, at first as part of its Intensive English Program for Asylum-Seekers.Now he holds a leadership role in the English and Intensive English Unit (IEU) faculty.
Last year, he was selected by his principal to be a mentor for a teacher entering the profession: as part of Teach For Australia’s Leadership Development Program, all program participants (Associates) are paired with a School Mentor. This School Mentor is an experienced teacher at the Associate’s placement school who provides day-to-day practical support and assists with integration into life at the school and within the local community.
School Mentors participate in a Mentor Development Program, which includes both in person and online professional development for those who want to offer their expertise and support to a new teacher. Speaking of his own experience at the initial training, Glenn says that “it was an extensive three-day training. It was informative, invigorating and motivating.”
Glenn’s mentee is Alice Chipkin, who relocated to Darwin from Victoria earlier this year as part of the Leadership Development Program.
“Alice is such a dedicated, motivated and enthusiastic person,” Glenn says. He aims to establish a “positive and robust” relationship with his mentee. Though they have a weekly “wrap-up” conversation, Glenn also offers support and advice as needed. “I make sure that I am always available to address her concerns and questions – pedagogical or classroom management matters – on a regular basis.”
Research has consistently found that new teachers experience a range of benefits from quality mentoring relationships, including emotional support, increased confidence, improved self-reflection, problem solving capabilities and the development of classroom management practices and norms.1
“Being a Teach For Australia Mentor has provided me an avenue to share my skills and knowledge,” Glenn says. He considers himself to be a mentor and a coach at the same time. “It widens my horizons, not only by just being a mentor to my Associate, but also being a friend.”
1 Reference: Hobson, A. J., Ashby, P., Malderez, A., & Tomlinson, P. D. (2009). Mentoring beginning teachers: What we know and what we don’t. Teaching and teacher education, 25(1), 207-216