BEST Tips for Mentors: December 2023


Beginning Educator Support Team (BEST)


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BEST Events

Registration is open for our 2023-2024 BEST Academies for the ENTIRE YEAR! Click here to get to our Events & Trainings page. All academies are free to attend.

*Registration closes 48 hours prior to the academies.


  • Mentor Academy 101
  • Mentor Academy 201


  • Using Instructional Frameworks in Observation & Feedback
  • Mentoring Teachers of Special Education
  • Mentoring ESAs
  • Mentoring School Nurses


*The 2023-2024 Mentor Roundtable Schedule is available on our website

After attending Mentor Academy 101, mentors can choose an on-going learning community to engage with others throughout the school year.

Roundtable content will remain consistent across all Roundtables, however, the emphasis will vary. Please choose and register for the roundtable that best fits your needs, interests, and schedule.

*Prerequisite for Mentor Academy 201, Mentor Specialty Opportunities, and Roundtables is prior attendance of Mentor Academy 101.  

BEST will continue to provide all events online.

Contact BEST


P: (360) 725-6430

Tips for Mentors
December 2023

Dear Mentors,

Seasons Greetings! This is the time of year for reflection. Where are you resting and relying?

Engaging with reflection for yourself and extending it to mentors is great way to lean into positive, strength-based mindsets, goal setting, connecting instruction to outcomes, evaluating progress towards goals, and refining equitable and culturally responsive classroom practices. In other words, reflection centers on Mentor Standard 2: Mentee Reflective Practices. By building reflection into your mentoring design and practice, may there be new learning, conversations filled with understanding and appreciation, and clear connections with intentions, actions, and goals.

Here is a reflection prompt for you. Feel free to extend it to your mentee as well:

What is one celebration you would like to share about your work?

We wish you all the best for a season of meaningful reflections as you engage with hope, courage, and curiosity, which are wonderful skills in effective mentoring practice. May this time of year help guide you and your mentees into the new year ahead in ways you want, need, and deserve.  


Your Friends at BEST

A Gift of Words for the Season 

MHN winter image

Art and writing by Morgan Harper Nichols

Every snowflake starts out as a tiny bit of dust in the air. As it falls, water vapor freezes on this particle in a pattern that is unique to it. This pattern is affected by the constantly changing conditions it goes through; each snowflake has slightly different paths from one another as they make their way to the ground.

Perhaps, in some way, our own experiences are like this. The constantly changing conditions create different shapes for the many seasons and chapters of our lives. It can be hard to make sense of it all in real-time, as we move from one day to the next. However, this is true: when we catch a glimpse of the way that our life has taken on the shape of "courage" or "hope" or even just "curiosity," we're allowed to embrace it. Through the ever-changing shifts and patterns we encounter, there is still room to embrace any subtle, yet meaningful change we notice, even the ones that may seem fleeting...even the ones we weren't expecting. Perhaps, even here, you can be open to the possibility that the journey ahead can still unfold in beautiful, healing ways that you have yet to imagine. This doesn't mean ignoring the difficulties present, nor does it mean drifting aimlessly. Instead, to be open is an opportunity to explore potential for new ways of finding beauty and meaning right here....and even if it's small, we're allowed to believe it matters. And just as each snowflake's journey leads to a unique design, your own journey can reveal new shapes today. So, how might tomorrow be different? How might you learn, grow, breathe, and let go? What might "starting over" look like? What shape will your courage take? You are allowed to welcome these questions, as you move through each day. - MHN

Mentor Tools

As you work to build your own and your mentee's capacity to reflect and respond consider the following tools:

"7 Success Factors for Coaching Programs" with Jim Knight: video

7 Factors in the Video:

  1. Coaching Cycle
  2. Understand How to Work with Adults
  3. Set of Teaching Practices: Instructional Playbook
  4. How to Gather Data
  5. Communication Skills: Listen, Ask Questions, Build Connections, Speak the Truth In a Way It Can Be Heard
  6. Are you a leader in the way that coaches need to be leaders? 
  7. A Coach is Supported 

8 Key Coaching Skills Checklist

8 Skills on the List:

  1. Developing Trust
  2. Being Present
  3. Listen Actively
  4. Clarifying
  5. Empathizing
  6. Being Succinct
  7. Asking the Best Questions
  8. Giving Feedback 

"The Four Stages of a Formal Mentoring Relationship" from Mentoring Matters: video

  1. Prepare the Mentoring Relationship
  2. Negotiate the Nature and Process of the Mentorships
  3. Develop & Progress Towards Goals
  4. Moving On: Reviewing the Journey & Celebrating

Nine episodes with Elena Aguilar All Less Than 15 Minutes: The Bright Morning Podcast

"Each episode provides you with a concrete strategy or tool guaranteed to improve your coaching conversations (and really, all your conversations)." 

  1. Improve Your Communication with Non-Verbals
  2. Learn from Your Coachee’s Non-Verbals
  3. Less Talking, More Impact
  4. A Confidence-Building Sentence Stem
  5. A Question to Surface Underlying Beliefs 
  6. A Question to Unlock Your Power 
  7. The Power of Silence 
  8. Let Your Coachee Lead
  9. Supercharge Your Learning 

BEST Events in the New Year

Please check our website for a full list of events and trainings. We offer Mentor Foundational Opportunities, Mentor On-going Opportunities, and Mentor Specialty Opportunities.

Beginning Educator Support Team Website

Join a BEST Roundtables.

Mentor Roundtables are year-round opportunities for mentors and coaches to build knowledge, practice skills, collaborate with colleagues, and reflect on their work supporting educator growth and pursuing educational equity. Roundtables follow a 3-part structure: Connecting, Building, Coaching. Register Now!

Join us at Academies in January!

Mentor Academy 101

Mentor Academy 201

Mentoring Teachers of Special Education

BEST Announcements

BEST is taking a sabbatical from our annual symposium. This includes the convening and conference. See you in spring of 2025!

Academy event registration will close 48 hours prior to the academy. Please plan ahead and register prior to 48 hours to the event.

NAKIA Academy has launched, and applications are closed for this year's virtual academy hosted by OSPI and WEA. Next year's applications will open in August.

FYI: There was no newsletter issued in November, in case you were looking for one. This month's newsletter offers a couple extra tools to make up for missing last month. Hopefully they are received as supportive. Thank you.  

Got questions? Ask OSPI!

OSPI has launched a new publication that invites all Washington residents to ask OSPI questions directly and get answers publicly. Called The Study Session, this publication is an opportunity for families and community members to engage with OSPI on all things public education. It is published once per month on the OSPI Blog. Click to learn more about The Study Session, including how to submit questions.

OSPI’s website address is changing! 

Effective September 1, 2023, OSPI is changing the current website address from to This change is required for improved security. 

Please make sure to update your bookmarks, links, and saved pages to reflect this change, as redirects will only be in place for a period of 6 months. Rest assured, all the content and functionality you've come to rely on will remain intact at the new URL.  

All OSPI email addresses will remain unchanged. If you encounter any issues or have any questions about this URL change, please reach out to OSPI’s support team at We're here to assist you and ensure a seamless transition.