According to Ms. Wolpert-Gawron, mentors can shape the trajectory for new teachers, but often formal mentoring programs in schools can be “overly controlling and involve way too much paperwork,” and the mentor is in an assigned relationship, not one formed organically. For these very reasons, Ms. Wolpert-Gawron offers a new outlook on mentorship programs.
A good mentor exhibits the following six qualities:
- Respects what you’re trying to do, and helps push you to solve the problem using a different perspective
- Listens, but knows when to hold up her hand to make you pause and listen
- Collaborates, shares the air, and lives for reciprocal learning
- Celebrates your successes
- Gives you a safe space to vent, air, complain, and feel shame
- Models best practices while still appreciating differences in teaching style
And mentor-teacher relationships do not have to be based on seniority! That is, newer teachers can act as mentors too. The pivotal aspects to good mentorship are celebrating successes, maintaining a good attitude, and being a good leader, all of which can be accomplished as a newer teacher.
Schools benefit from good mentorship programs as well. According to the article, “continued and consistent mentorship” helps:
- Retain good teachers
- Improve their teaching practice
- Keep us engaged in the profession
- Improve the practice of mentors themselves
TWIN-CS continues to promote the practice of mentorship, but we encourage all teachers to engage in these practices every day! We all benefit from a healthy and engaged supportive space, and our students will benefit from having teachers who help each other.
Community-building is crucial to a successful school environment, so continue to follow the blog for more tips on how to create a supportive and fun atmosphere in your school!
-Melissa Hoppie, Graduate Student Researcher