Monday, November 17, 2014

Mentoring Others

            My niece is frustrated. As a student teacher there is enough angst to go around. However, add in student teaching in a foreign country, one in which you don’t know the language, and it’s doubly anxiety ridden. Often times she has self-doubts, questioning the sanity of her decision to become a teacher. I’ve assured her every good teacher questions his or her practices in the classroom, wondering how effective the methods are. But are my words enough to bolster the confidence of this budding educator? She needs support, an invested mentor of sorts. A listening ear and an honest tongue. Do first year teachers receive the needed support to be effective educators?
            I’m not sure how other districts operate, but I know new teachers in my district are assigned a mentor. The two meet together, going over questions, discussing the classroom and any problematic areas. Overall, I think it's a terrific program that gives a new teacher needed support.
            I’m not sure if my niece will receive that type of support no matter where she goes. She will be  a good educator, if she doesn’t self-doubt herself silly. I may not be much, but I will continue to speak into her life. She has too much potential to be an effective teacher not to fight for her to remain in the occupation.
            So look for someone who’s new to your school. Maybe they came from middle school and transferred to high school. That person may not be new to teaching but he/she is new to the age group. When I first came to alternative ed from private education, I was adrift. A fellow teacher took me under his wing and gave me sage advice that impacted me then and still does. He's since retired, but whenever possible, I connect with him. At least yearly. So get involved. Offer suggestions, offer help, bring in a care package, take that teacher our for coffee after school one day and get to know him/her. You could make all the difference.
            Being a teacher isn’t easy but it can be meaningful. Look for first year or young teachers. Not only can we have an impact on our students but we an also encourage another teacher. Who knows, you may even learn a thing or two yourself!

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