Each individual plays a role of a mentor and a mentee during his or her professional activity. We can find ourselves in both roles, especially informally. Preschool teachers get acquainted with both roles during their career, at the beginning of their professional path, learning from a more experienced mentor teacher, and later, when as mentors they transmit their experience and acquired knowledge to others, both to students and beginner preschool teachers. In the process of professional development of preschool teachers mentors have an important role in the initial education during pedagogical practice, as well as in the period when preschool teachers start their career. To perform this role in a qualitative and responsible way, it is important that they provide for their own professional development and the development of competencies contributing to their performance in the role of mentors. At the beginning the most important thing is to develop competencies that enable them to act in a new role; later on they have to ensure their professional development, which is closely related to the introduction of changes or novelties into their work, and to promotion.
In the theoretical part the notions of mentor and mentoring will be defined and the roles and tasks of mentors and the characteristics of a good mentor described. We shall highlight the relationship between mentor and mentee, set out the necessary competencies of mentors and explain the role of the head teacher in encouraging the professional development of preschool teachers. A particular emphasis will be given to the professional development of preschool teachers in the process of mentoring. Some models of professional development will be described and factors with an influence on professional development highlighted.
In the empirical part semi-structured interviews will be carried out with five mentor preschool teachers with more than 20 years of service, who are experts in their field and have been mentors to numerous people. In the survey we wish to find out how the professional development of mentor preschool teachers progresses and which are the stages they go through during their career as mentors. A special focus will be on factors influencing the professional growth of mentor preschool teachers.