The role of the mentor

E-portfolio is a space where learning and teaching stories can be constructed, deconstructed, re-examined, and alternative stories hypothesised by Provisionally Registered Teachers (PRTs) with feedback from mentors and the community. In our context, we want a professional conception of self to grow out of representational narrative, critical thinking and positive interpersonal relationships. Although the mentor is an external influence, the PRT is self-directed in their learning, mentors do not tell PRTs what or how to think; the role is more than that. The mentor role involves feedback to the PRT, teachers shape themselves and their practice based on others perceptions and feedback, which reinforces particular perspectives of identity. The mentors authentic questioning of learning and teaching stories sets a constructive feedback loop into motion. The mentor reflects feedback and perceptions back to the PRT, as if they are looking into a mirror. The feedback a mentor gives is one of the most powerful influences on learning and teaching. Hattie’s’ many articles about the power of feedback supports the idea of collaborative mentor and PRT relationships to solve dilemmas, analyze actions and shape a persons thinking.

Effective mentoring supports PRTs in their meaningful work of teaching and learning. The mentor builds on prior knowledge and current ability, reflecting back to the PRT and dialoguing the next step. The ability to share the learning window with a selected ‘group’ allows a dialogue drawn from collective knowledge and understandings to explore taken for granted and unanalyzed practices. At the same time, the mentors are building their own learning and passing on knowledge and skills to others through a commitment to work through contradictions and divergent experiences and continually invite challenges and questions on different levels.



Everyone has a different lived life that shapes and alters his or her representation of practice to the world. As teachers grow to understand the e-portfolio process, the rich, complex learning windows they build are a way for teachers to represent their practice. The use of each image or narrative to represent a concept includes a connection to other artefacts via reflection. The interactions between the pieces the PRT selects to represent the learning narrative present and tell a story. These emerging and transforming stories become examples of the ‘wise practice’ often spoken about by Lee and Carr. They document a sequence of reflections, actions and events, the processes of change. Katherine Nelson (1997) comments “Development is an elusive underground process usually hidden from view” (page 101).The documentation of practice, using a learning window, to answer a question, ethical dilemma or provocation is a path to surface the learning of the PRT, deepen knowledge and refine skills for both Mentor and PRT.