Friday, June 11, 2010

Mentoring: The Best Gift of All

Ever thought of mentoring? After  having a student teacher for half the school year last year, and having an intern this full school year, I feel energized and rejuvenated.   Having the experience of being with a new teacher as she "learns the ropes"  is one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences ever. Here are some things I learned this year from working with the incredible Miss H.
  1. There's a rationale for everything we do and every way we do it when we teach. When you have an intern, you reflect and share about all of your decisions.
  2. We don't have to be perfect, but always reflecting, striving for excellence and remaining committed to what's best for kids.
  3. Humor goes a long way. Being able to look across the room at another adult during a challenging kid moment and find humor in it gives strength and builds experience for a future challenge.
  4. Support is vital. Mutual support is even better. Teaching can be isolating so we must reach out.
  5. Communication is priceless. Open, respectful dialogue creates trust.
  6. We are always learning from each other: experienced teachers, new teachers, school staff parents, kids. 
  7. There is no hierarchy of experts: we are all learners.
  8. Everyone is on his/her own path: we must accept people where they are and nurture their strengths so they can flourish.
  9. Relationship is everything.
  10. We are never finished learning, growing, crying, celebrating. Savor, savor, savor each day as an opportunity to grow and learn. 
Thank you Miss Harrington for the opportunity to spend a wonderful year together, learning, laughing, crying, and celebrating the joys of our passionate commitment to kids.
If you have ever mentored, either in teaching or another arena, please share what it's done for your growth in the comments section. We learn so much from each other's stories!


Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree! I think that mentoring and sharing with others is the best way for me to reflect and improve my own teaching. If I can't explain to somebody else why I'm doing something, I should seriously think about why I'm doing it!

I applied for an intern next fall but there is only 1 and she wanted a different grade. Crazy! However, I have been blessed with a same-grade teaching partner next year for whom it will be her first full year of teaching. She has already visited my classroom many times for talks, and questions, and ideas! So, when one mentoring opportunity fell through, another materialized right before my eyes! I am excited by the prospect of the coming year!

Thanks for sharing Joan! I always enjoy reading.

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

Thanks for sharing Jamie. I am so happy that you have a "sort" of intern to mentor next year. I loved the positive energy and inspiration that my intern provided. Looking forward to reading about your experiences.

Aviva said...

What a wonderful blog post on mentoring! I've been involved in the NTIP Program (our Board Mentorship Program) for about five years, and I love it! This is a great way to learn from others, share ideas, and reflect on your own teaching practices too. I'm going to share your blog post with the principal in charge of our NTIP Program, as I think that it's one worth sharing with everyone.

Dr. Will said...

Until recently, I hadn't had a mentor. Sure, I have admired professors, colleagues, and former supervisors but never a formal mentoring relationship. I have always charted my own path without any guidance or feedback - which I know has been a career setback.

What you wrote about in your post is spot on and a must have for any professional - no matter how many years of experience of their position. Ms. H. was lucky to have you. She definitely learned from the best!

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

Thanks so much Aviva! It's difficult to put into words the joys and learning I have experienced this year. I appreciate your comments and your sharing the post with others :-)

Shelly Terrell said...

The opportunity to mentor another teacher is amazing! I wish most teachers could get experienced and passionate mentors like you who enjoy the opportunity. I had many mentors as a student and each one added so much to my professional development and learning. I have also mentored children and teens. These were some of the most rewarding moments of my life!

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

Thanks so much Will. I have never really had a mentor myself but I have reached out and listened to others with experience and stories to share. I had to be on my game every day! She and I were both so lucky :-)

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

Thanks Shelly :-) I also wish more teachers got to experience a year with a mentor in the classroom, learning each day! It was such a positive experience. I am sure those lucky folks you have mentored are changed forever. You are truly inspiring. Thanks for the comment.

Nicole Harrington said...

It has been such a rewarding and memorable experience to be your intern, Joan. I'm so fortunate and blessed to know you! I'm glad we became such close friends and I thank you (ETERNALLY) for everything you have taught me! See you Monday :)

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

Thanks so much Nicole. I have learned so much from our year together and I know we will be forever friends :-)