When I first started my teaching career, I thought I knew basically everything. I rarely asked questions, and I assumed that the new theories, practices, and techniques I had completed during my master’s degree would be more than enough to keep me on the path to pure awesomeness.
I actually did know a few things, but I found out very quickly that there were a lot of things I still had to learn. After running into some tough challenges, and realizing this, I found a mentor. They provided me with guidance, and sounding board, and a source of knowledge that no book, website, or professional development series can provide. Things quickly started to get better. I started feeling more confident, felt less stressed, and my classroom management improved.
There a lot of things having a mentor can do for you as a teacher, but here are three that I think are the most powerful.
1. They can save you a lot of time and frustration:
First and foremost, a mentor can save you a lot of time that would normally be spent on trial and error in your classroom. I can’t count the number of times I would excitedly walk up to my mentor and share a new idea or concept I wanted to try, and she would provide feedback. She would NEVER say “don’t do that”, but she would use caution. She would either ask questions that would make me re-think the implementation, or she would provide a story about already trying it and insights from her experiences. Either way, the end result was always better than it would have been. I was able to benefit from my mentor’s experiences and I saved a lot of time and frustration because of it!
2. They can provide support:
Whether you’re brand new to teaching or a seasoned veteran, no one should ever do this job alone. Sometimes the best role of a mentor is an available ear. I cannot stress enough how awesome it is just having someone who understands what you are going through probably is. Advice and shared knowledge is always nice, but just knowing you have someone to go to when that lesson blows up in your face, or an evaluation doesn’t go as planned, can play a crucial role in your early success as a teacher. This can help your ability to bounce back when things don’t go perfectly.
3. They have mastered what you’ve just begun to learn:
More than anything, whether its formative assessment, mastery learning, or a new tech tool you want to try, there is a good chance your mentor has some insight, experience, or a complete understanding of what you’re trying to do. This is an invaluable tool to have at your disposal. If you take the time to listen and learn from your mentor, you will grow exponentially faster as a professional educator.
Need a Mentor?
Finding a mentor isn’t too hard. I’m sure right now you have at least 3 people you are connected with that you could call or email. You may even already have one (which is great!) The point of all of this is that you are not alone. If you don’t have a mentor: find one, if you can’t find one reach out, I’m here to support your success.
So let’s do this! Let’s reach more students, share ideas, and change education for the better. Find your mentor, learn as much as you can, and thrive in your classroom like never before!