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How to be a Great Mentor

What does a good mentor "do"?

First of all I want to talk about what a GREAT mentor does, because good is the enemy of great. If you settle for "good enough" at anything, you are doing just that, settling. You could be a "good" teacher, and just teach the same "good" content year after year. To be GREAT, you must constantly strive to be better, by participating in engaging Twitter chats, reflecting, searching blogs and Pinterest for new and exciting ideas, and teaching every day with zest, zeal, and enthusiasm. But, I digress, as the topic today is being a great mentor, not teacher.


How to be a GREAT Teaching Mentor

**(note: As the only first year teacher at a small school I did not participate in any official mentoring program, first year teacher training, or actually even have an assigned "mentor." As the department of one I found my own mentors through blogs, #langchat, and world language educators on Twitter. Most of these mentors probably do not even know how important and influential they were to me. I am basing these suggestion of what I wish I would have had as a teacher mentor, and great leaders I have worked with in the Camp Adventure program).
  • Be a LEADER not a boss
    • Bosses say "Go!" Leaders say "Let's go!" Leaders are right there in the trenches working along side you at tasks that "bosses" would consider menial and beneath them. Lead by doing, while showing others with examples and helping them to develop their craft, not just doing it for them. 
  • SHARE your Resources
    • I made it through my 1st year teaching as a department of 1 by begging, borrowing and stealing ideas and lessons from any Spanish teacher who would let me. The best gift I was ever given my 1st year teaching was a teacher at a conference told me to give her my flash drive, and she loaded it with EVERYTHING from their large Spanish department's shared resource folder. Sharing is caring, and I will be forever grateful to that worried mama bear teacher who felt so bad for me as a 1st year teacher without any foreign language teachers at my school. One of main reasons I created this blog was to try and give back, the way that so many bloggers have freely given to me. 
  • Ask SPECIFIC open ended QUESTIONS
    • If you ask "how was your day?" you will get "fine." If you ask "do you have any students that you are having trouble with in class?" you will get "YES! Do you have any advice on Jonny?" Some new teachers want to appear like they have it all together, but most likely they are on the verge of losing it. Being asked a specific open ended question, allows them to lower their guard and be ok with sharing what they are struggling with.  
  • Be There
    • Be approachable, available, and ready to answer questions, and give advice. Don't be the biatch, scary, know-it-all that everyone has to walk around eggshells to be around. Go into THEIR room to check in with them, do not wait for the to come to you. 
  • Give them POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT
    • Everyone needs to hear positive about how they are doing, especially new teachers. After working 12 hour days all week long, new teachers need to hear positive things to make it seem like it is all worth it. They need to hear that students are raving in the hallway about how awesome the new teacher's class is, or just that their room looks great after all the time they put into organizing their classroom.
Most of all, do not treat being a mentor as a chore, but rather an OPPORTUNITY to develop the next generation of teachers.

Please know you are ALL mentors to me & I APPRECIATE you more than you will ever know!
- Allison 

2 comments

  1. How amazing and what a gift that the teacher put all her files onto a flash drive for you! I love sharing teaching ideas. It would have been very helpful to me if teachers would have been willing to share resources as I was bounced around to 6 different grade levels in the past three years. I will always keep that in mind when other teachers are moved to grades that I have taught.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think all teaches should just share! Eventually you realize that you want to create things your own way, but at first all teachers are just desperate for ANYTHING!

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