BEST Tips for Mentors: November 2022


Beginning Educator Support Team (BEST)


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BEST Events

Using Instructional Frameworks in Observation & Feedback

Jan. 20, 8am-3pm

Mentoring ESAs

Nov. 5, 8am-3pm

Mentor Academy 101 

Jan. 10, 12, 17, 19, 4pm-7pm

Jan. 24 & 26, 8am-3pm

Feb. 1 & 2, 8am-3pm

Mentor Academy 201

Jan. 30 & 31, 8am-3pm

Feb. 7 & 9, 8am-3pm

Mentoring Teachers of Special Education

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 also offer 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.

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
November 2022

Symposium Theme
  • BEST Virtual Mentor/Coach Equity Conference: March 8 & 9, 2023
  • BEST Virtual Grantee Convening: March 15

Registration will open in 2023.

Tending the Mentoring Relationship During Disillusionment

This time of year can often cause a dip in the momentum of first-year teachers. Ellen Moir, in a newsletter for the California Teacher Project, defined this time as "disillusionment:"

After six to eight weeks of nonstop work and stress, new teachers enter the disillusionment phase. The intensity and length of the phase varies among new teachers. The extensive time commitment, the realization that things are probably not going as smoothly as they want, and low morale contribute to this period of disenchantment. New teachers begin questioning both their commitment and their competence. Many new teachers get sick during this phase.

Phases of First Year Teachers Attitude Toward Teaching

Image from the New Teacher Center


Self-Care: Tending Each Other During Disillusionment

For yourself and your mentee(s):

  • Use Employee Assistance Program resources. Most EAP programs offer free and confidential counseling for life challenges and changes. 
  • Normalize challenges novice teachers face, which helps develop resilience. 
  • Nurture connections, purpose, flexibility, and hope to develop resilience.
  • Coach mentee(s) or ask someone to coach you to prioritize, develop efficient systems to meet demands of the job, and set and protect healthy boundaries.

Tip of the Month

Rooted in Research Continued (Part 3 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 Results: Survey items asked beginning special educators to rate a variety of mentor support areas on a scale of 1 (not a priority) to 5 (top priority). Respondents identified positive behavioral supports (4.05), special education services within a multi-tiered system of support (3.88), specially designed instruction (3.88), social emotional learning (3.84), and progress monitoring and data-based decision making (3.82) as the highest priorities. ​​Beginning special educators also identified additional areas of support:, including 1) induction support, 2) working with paraeducators, 3) curriculum and instruction, 4) legal Requirements of IDEA, 5) collaborating with administrators and general education teachers, 6) family and community partnerships, and 7) balancing workload and case management.

Mentor Tips for Determining Support Needs  

Mentees may not initially be able to articulate the areas that they need support. Mentors should collaboratively work with their mentee to identify priority areas or a focus of mentoring. Strategies to consider, include:

  • Choose no more than 3 focal areas for the year.
  • Use questioning strategies and deep listening to identify barriers, specific support areas, and the connection to student outcomes.
  • Support your mentee with identifying what success in those areas looks like.
  • Set goal(s) and track progress over time.


There are many templates and existing tools to help support mentors. At the same time as seeking out helpful, tried and true tools, keep in mind it is ok and sometimes preferred by mentees to modify, adapt, or create something entirely unique based on mentee strengths, interests, needs for the times. Tools can be used as is or serve as inspiration for something better! 

New Teacher Spotlight 

Jennifer Nichols

Jennifer Nichols is an elementary STEAM teacher in the Kent School District. She is a First Year Teacher.

Jennifer’s advice for mentors is active listening and individualization.

It is important for mentors to spend some time getting to know the personalities of their mentees before facilitating goal setting for the school year. Like kids, some teachers may not always fit on a traditional goal setting form, rubric, or protocol. So, it was helpful when my mentor listened for my unique assets and helped me individualize those to access points in supporting my students.