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What do teacher mentors need to be able to do in order to be effective?

June 2022

by Rebecca Tickell,  PhD student in Psychology in Education, University of York.

My research is centred around exploring the construct of self-efficacy, within the specific domain of teacher mentors. Self-efficacy is a construct linked to the level of confidence someone has about their capabilities to perform a certain role/task successfully, and the strength of those beliefs (Bandura, 1997). It has long been known that the beliefs someone holds about their ability to perform their role effectively can impact on their performance (Bandura, 1997; Stajkovic and Luthans, 1998). This should also hold true for the perceptions teacher mentors have about their capabilities to perform the role of mentor, which is inherently different to the role they need to perform as a teacher.

Self-efficacy beliefs are domain specific (Bandura, 1997) and they vary according to context. For example, mentoring a teacher requires different skills to those employed by a teacher working with students, so a person’s perceptions about their capability to execute each of these roles successfully will also differ. This means that if we want to measure a person’s self-efficacy beliefs, we need to create an instrument that’s specific to the domain of interest.

To inform the construction of a new and novel scale capable of measuring teacher mentor self-efficacy beliefs, I have tapped into the expertise of a carefully selected panel using the Delphi technique (Linstone and Turroff, 1975). This blog post will provide a brief overview of the methodologies I employed and my findings from the first phase of my research.

Competencies of Teacher Mentors

You might think that the question posed by the title of this blog would be an easy one to answer. You may even have lots of ideas yourself about what teacher mentors need to be able to do, yet despite numerous trawls through the available literature and research on teacher mentoring, I found that a usable list of teacher mentor competencies remained elusive. There were numerous ideas and suggestions from a wide range of sources. Mentoring competencies were presented that overlapped with other contexts, e.g., for mentors working in the world of business and commerce (Clutterbuck, 2004). However, in the specific domain of teacher mentoring, there was a paucity of information available that was both sufficiently succinct and specific, with nothing completely addressing the roles and responsibilities expected of a teacher mentor working in educational settings today.

The Delphi Technique

To find an answer to this question, I used the Delphi technique, a method developed by the RAND Corporation in the 1950’s as a forecasting tool (Dalkey and Helmer, 1963). This method uses the collective knowledge of a panel with specific expertise in the domain of interest. The panellists, who remain anonymous to each other throughout the process, have to come to a consensus or collective agreement about a problem or question put before them through several rounds of questionnaires (Linstone and Turoff, 1975; Rowe and Wright, 2001; Iqbal and Pipon-Young, 2009). The Delphi technique is an iterative process, with the analysis from each round presented back to the panellists for further inspection and comment.

The reasons for accessing ‘expert’ knowledge to develop a self-efficacy scale are those of validity and reliability (Bandura, 2006; DeVellis, 2017). Bandura (1997; 2006) recommends that the domain of interest should be well-defined and that expert knowledge is sought to ensure all of the different types of capabilities required to succeed in a role are covered. In this study, expert knowledge was sought from a panel of 26 experienced professionals in teacher mentoring from the UK working across a range of contexts. Through three successive rounds of questionnaire, an answer to the question “what competencies – knowledge, skills, behaviours and attributes – do teacher mentors need in order to be effective?” was decided.

The process used for this study is outlined in Figure 1. A final analysis was performed on the panellist responses from round 3 (R3) and the findings from the Delphi are summarised in the next section.

N.B. Open-ended questions are recommended in round one of a Delphi in order to gather data that’s rich and representative of the domain of interest (Iqbal and Pipon-Young, 2009). This approach also ensures that meaning across a data set is captured (Braun and Clarke, 2006) and the “qualitative richness of the phenomenon” is fully explored, as described by Boyatzis (1998, p. 31).


Thematic analysis was used to analyse the responses from R1:

Research findings regarding teacher mentors.

205 items were identified during the initial coding process (Saldaña, 2009), which were grouped into 48 categories, under 4 themes constructed or generated from the data (Braun and Clarke, 2006; 2021).

The Four Themes

  1. Plan-Do-Review: Leading and facilitating the process of reflection. Based on mentee’s experience, pedagogical practice, performance and expectations.
  2. Inter & Intrapersonal Intelligence: Building and maintaining professional and productive relationships.
  3. Teacher Practitioner: Mentor as teacher; holder of pedagogical knowledge and expertise; adviser, modeller and researcher.
  4. Professionalism: Role modelling, explicitly and/or implicitly, professional behaviours/skills. Sharing knowledge about the ‘field’. This takes place within a specific context/setting, changing according to mentee’s needs and/or place on their pathway.

Themes & Associated Categories


  • Critical Reflection
  • Problem Solver
  • Questioner
  • Scaffolded Support
  • Andragogy
  • Devise Interventions
  • Facilitate Dialogue
  • Constructive Challenge
  • Build Autonomy
  • Construct Learning Opportunities
  • Goal Setting
  • Constructive Feedback
  • Deconstruct (High Quality) Practice

Inter & Intrapersonal Intelligence

  • Respectful and Considerate
  • Communication Skills
  • Is Self-Aware
  • Interpersonal Relationships
  • Non-Judgemental
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Open-Mindedness
  • Change Management
  • Empathetic

Teacher Practitioner

  • High Expectations
  • Bigger Picture
  • Advocate for Profession
  • Connection Builder
  • Commitment to Mentor Role
  • Flexibility and Adaptability
  • Advocate for Mentee
  • Genuine Interest
  • School Context
  • Objectivity


  • High Expectations
  • Bigger Picture
  • Advocate for Profession
  • Coonection Builder
  • Commitment to Mentor Role
  • Flexibility and Adaptability
  • Advocate for Mentee
  • Genuine Interest
  • School Context
  • Objectivity

Categories that sit under more than one theme

  • Plan-Do-Review & Professionalism: Assess Mentee Progress; Programme and Pathway
  • Professionalism & Teacher Practioner: Learner
  • Teacher & Plan-Do-Review: CM Tools and Strategies
  • Teacher Practitioner & Inter and Intra Personal Intelligence: Barriers to Learning- Learners
  • Inter and Intra Personal Intelligence & Plan-Do-review: Barriers to Learning- Mentee

Please get in touch at if you have any questions.


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  9. DeVellis, R. F. (2017). Scale development : theory and applications (4th Edition). Los Angeles : SAGE.
  10. Iqbal, S and Pipon-Young, L. (2009). The Delphi method. The Psychologist, 22(7), 598–601.
  11. Linstone, H. A., & Turoff, M. (1975). The Delphi method : techniques and applications. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., Advanced Book Program.
  12. Rowe, G., & Wright, G. (2001). Expert Opinions in Forecasting: The Role of the Delphi Technique. In J. S. Armstrong (Ed.), Principles of Forecasting: A Handbook for Researchers and Practitioners (pp. 125–144). Boston, MA: Springer US.
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  15. Tickell, R. (2021). Constructing a self-efficacy scale for teacher mentors.