BEST Tips for Mentors: October 2022


Beginning Educator Support Team (BEST)


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BEST Events

Mentor Academy 101 

Oct. 15 & 22 (Saturday), 8am-3pm

Oct. 19 & 26, 8am-3pm

Jan. 24 & 26, 8am-3pm

Feb. 1 & 2, 8am-3pm

Mentor Academy 201

Oct 11 & 13, 8am-3pm

Oct. 24 & 26, 8am-3pm

Jan. 30 & 31, 8am-3pm

Feb. 7 & 9, 8am-3pm

Mentoring Teachers of Special Education

Oct. 25 & 27, 8am-3pm

Feb. 6 & 8, 8am-3pm

Mentor Roundtables 

There are many different roundtables at different times of day and days of the week. There are roundtables for mentors of color (BIPOC), mentors of special education teachers, mentors experiencing compassion fatigue/burnout, mentors in small or rural districts, mentors of ESAs, and mentors looking for a roundtable experience that utilizes the circle way protocol. We are also offering a specialty Roundtable for School Nurses.

Check out the BEST Events & Trainings page to register for open opportunities! BEST will continue to provide all events online until further notice.

SAVE THE DATE: Our BEST Virtual Mentor/Coach Equity Conference March 8 & 9, 2023.

Our BEST Virtual Grantee Convening is March 15, 2023.

This year's BEST Spring Symposium theme is Transformational Mentoring.

Registration will open in December.

BEST spring symposium logo

Artwork Credit: Taylor Kidder-Morrill of the Educator Effectiveness Office at OSPI

BEST Contacts

Lan Le, Administrative Program Specialist

Kati Casto de Ventura, Lead Program Supervisor

Bawaajigekwe Boulley, Program Supervisor 

Contact us:


P: (360) 725-6430

Tips for Mentors
October 2022

BEST Announcements


March 8 & 9, 2023 

BEST Virtual Mentor/Coach Equity Conference


March 15, 2023 

BEST Virtual Grantee Convening

Registration is not yet open for the conference or convening. Stay tuned!

We anticipate registration opening in December.

BEST spring symposium logo

We are excited to announce this year's BEST Spring Symposium theme: Transformational Mentoring.

The theme is inspired by The PD Book by Elena Aguilar and Lori Cohen, and the BEST Team is working diligently in our planning to provide a symposium that offers alignment in our words and actions.

Artwork Credit: Taylor Kidder-Morrill of the Educator Effectiveness Office at OSPI

New Mentor Event: Using Instructional Frameworks in Observation & Feedback

Using Instructional Frameworks in Observation and Feedback focuses on mentor/mentee observation cycles using instructional frameworks as a third point. Participants will learn to use the Principles of Practice and Mind the Gap tools to guide their observations and feedback.

Special thanks goes to BEST Mentor Faculty Kjell Stroomer-Rowe, Anzara Miller, and Drew Dillhunt for creating this content and facilitating it at its launch on September 15.  


Upcoming Dates

You can register now on our website for the next Instructional Frameworks and Observation Mentor Academy on Thursday, November 3. This is a one-day training from 8am-3pm. 

We are also offering the academy on January 20, and registration will be available soon on our website. Stay tuned!

NAKIA Academy Launches its 3rd Academy in October


OSPI and WEA partner to offer NAKIA Academy, a mentoring and leadership academy by and for people of color.

We had over 200 educators apply for this year's fall academy, and we were able to accept 90 participants. The academy starts in October and runs through February for a total of 8 sessions.

Topics include: Understanding identity, relationship building, confidentiality, conversation skills, mentor roles, connection and healing, and imposter syndrome.

NAKIA Academy is more than a workshop, a training, and a professional learning event. NAKIA Academy is a community emphasizing continuous growth and support. Three cohorts meet monthly over a five-month period and focuses on community thinking, learning, interacting, skill-building, and fun. 

Special acknowledgement is extended to our NAKIA Academy Facilitators who contribute greatly in designing and facilitating this transformational experience to be full of love and light: Patricia Beuke, Sonia Barry, Christiana Jackson, Shelly Hurley, Brooke Brown, Dr. Tanisha Brandon-Felder, and Fran Oishi.

BEST has hired 3 new Mentor Faculty who are educators of color and who are in training to facilitate NAKIA Academy: Dr. Demetricia Hodges, Christine Robinson, and Ashley Dwight. 

If you'd like to learn more about NAKIA Academy, contact Torian Hodges-Finch with WEA.

Learn in Community with NAKIA Academy Facilitators at BEST Roundtables

Didn't get into NAKIA Academy this time? Consider a BEST Roundtable with one of our NAKIA Academy Facilitators. Visit our BEST website and register today! No need to apply. Just click the link and register. 

Please Note:

*There are 3 Roundtables specifically geared for educators who identify as BIPOC. 

  • Dr. Brandon-Felder and Brooke Brown are co-facilitating a Roundtable perfect for NAKIA cohort members current and past.
  • Christiana Jackson is facilitating a Roundtable with a BIPOC emphasis.
  • Ashley Dwight is facilitating a Roundtable welcoming all Mentors of Color emphasizing sharing story, mentor skill building, and examining imposter syndrome. 

Patricia Beuke is offering a Roundtable open to mentors of all backgrounds making use of the The Circle Way meeting structure.

Christine Robinson is offering a Roundtable open to mentors of all backgrounds for ESAs.  

Tip of the Month

Rooted in Research Continued (Part 2 of a multi-part series)

By Dr. Alicia Roberts Frank, Amy Hedlund, and Dr. Erin Stewart, Keeping Exceptional Special Educators (KESE) Project Staff

Background: In the fall of 2021, OSPI was awarded a grant through the U.S. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services to increase the retention of highly qualified educators who teach students with dis/abilities, which includes a goal to strengthen mentoring of beginning special educators. Our monthly mentor tips are based on a survey of 144 special educators in their first three years of teaching in Washington. 

Survey: Survey items asked beginning special educators to rate a variety of mentor interactions on a scale of 1 (not a priority) to 5 (top priority). Respondents identified meeting in-person or virtually (3.74), emails or phone calls/texts (3.57), instructional observations (3.17), and participation in professional development with their mentor (2.87) as the most important mentor interactions.  

Specific Feedback

Beginning special educators also provided specific feedback on how frequently they would like to meet with their mentors and how they would like their mentor/mentee interactions structured.

  • Frequency: Beginning teachers expressed a desire for contact with their mentor that ranged from daily, weekly, bi-weekly, to monthly. While there were varied suggested frequencies, it was clear from the responses that beginning special educators want consistent and frequent opportunities to access their mentor. Several beginning special educators commented on wanting more intensive and frequent support from their mentor at the beginning of the school year. 
  • Structures of Mentoring Interactions: Beginning special educators generally want structured in-person meetings, informal check-ins, and in-the-moment support or suggestions.

For example, beginning special educators expressed a preference for routinely scheduled meetings at consistent intervals and a model or protocol to guide meetings.

Several beginning special educators commented that they would also like structured opportunities to observe colleagues or their mentor teacher as well as opportunities to be observed and debrief the observation with their mentor.

They saw these opportunities as a way for them to improve their own instruction and get new ideas.

Mentor Tips for Frequency and Structure of Meetings with Mentee(s)

According to BEST Grant Assurances, mentors of first-year educators should have an average of 1-2 hours per week per mentee for planning, reflection, and problem-solving conversations. Time can also be spent conducting observations and providing feedback.

Tip: Collaboratively decide frequency for mentor/mentee meetings and communications. This discussion should include:

  • How often (minimum) the pair will meet
  • How the pair will meet (in-person, virtual, etc.)
  • How the pair will communicate outside of meetings (phone, email, Google Doc., etc.)

Tip: Collaboratively decide the format for mentor/mentee interactions. This discussion should include:

  • Mentee observations of the mentor and other colleagues
  • Mentor observations of the mentee
  • Shared professional learning opportunities
  • Protocols for observation debriefs and check-ins

Free Tools to Help Establish Mentorship Frequency & Structure

Tools from the BEST Website:

This is a conversation template talked about in Mentor Academy 101, and because it includes “next steps,” some mentors use it as a consistent structure for recurring meetings.

Coaching for Equity: As mentors meet with mentees, consider the elements of equity that can be woven into the conversation. Try using The Equity Rubric from the book Coaching for Equity by Elena Aguilar. "This rubric is a tool for reflection and ongoing development—and it's intended to push the conversation about equity."

More free tools from Coaching for Equity and Elena Aguilar's other texts can be found on the Bright Morning website.

Mentoring Matters: Free templates for Formal Mentoring Agreements and more can be found on the Mentoring Matters website.

The Formal Mentoring Agreement helps identify mentorship details, purpose, goals, process, and responsibilities. This will offer mentees the structure they are asking for as outlined in the research presented from the KESE Project Team. 

New Teacher Spotlight 


Lyssa Elmstrom is a K-6 Special Education Integrated Program Teacher in the Kent School District. This is the beginning of her 2nd year.

Advice for Mentors From Lyssa:

My advice for mentors is to have a set schedule.

My mentor and I met every two weeks. I would keep a list of questions as they arose to ask her throughout the week if they were not time sensitive. Knowing when she was coming made it so I could prepare questions beforehand. 

My mentor gave me multiple means to contact her if needed. I was able to ask her time sensitive questions in between our scheduled meetings as needs changed for me throughout the year such as during progress report time or if I had a specific question about an IEP.

An alternative could be to have your mentee send you an email on a specific day on your “off” week that you can expect to get. Then, set time aside to answer questions in a routine way if sporadic messages don’t best meet your mentee's needs or your schedule.