teachin' school

teaching tip 10. find a mentor, stat.

who?

choose a teacher who’s been at it for a few years but is not necessarily a “seasoned” teacher. you want someone who is still open to new ideas and theories but has some experience. the person you choose needs to be honest, connected to the school ecosystem, and reliable. and a good sense of humor doesn’t hurt.

why?

i didn’t have an official mentor in the beginning so i now know the importance of one. a mentor is someone that you can go to for support and guidance. he/she is not your boss. you have a principal for that. he/she will give you what you need to get through it. the first year is mostly about survival, finding out what you like, what you want to change next year. a mentor is someone you can bounce ideas off of and be honest with you.

when?

try the week before school starts to look around for a mentor when you are getting your room ready, doing inservice, and getting to know people. you may be assigned one if you are a first year teacher. this may or may not be the right person for you. if y’all aren’t connecting, talk to other people. don’t limit yourself to your own subject area. although they can’t give you as much time as a teacher, an associate/assistant principal can be really helpful too.

where?

talk to your principal and see if you are supposed to have a mentor assigned to you. then just start talking to people. hopefully, you’ll click with someone in the first couple of weeks. if not, go online. there are tons of blogs and groups of people to talk to now. it might be helpful to connect with your first year teacher friends from college too. they’ll have good stories and ideas to share with you.

how?

it doesn’t need to be a formal invitation. if you connect with someone, use them for support. and you can have more than one mentor! my first year, i went to a very knowledgable social studies teacher (my content area) for questions about curriculum or lesson ideas. but i went to an english teacher next door for inspiration, creativity, support, and laughter. she was an amazing teacher for me to talk to even though we didn’t teach the same subject.

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