Day 6: What does a good mentor do?

Hey y’all! No day 5 because I forgot to take a picture of my classroom before I left the building for the weekend…but it’ll be up Monday!

“What does a good mentor do?”

Mentoring in education is pretty crucial, as it is in most professions. A good mentor can most likely impact your staying a teacher and not ditching a couple years in because you feel ineffective, unsupported, and uninspired. I have been and am still being mentored by a couple people, so here is my breakdown of what I think a good mentor does:

1. Supports you when you need it 

A good mentor knows when to pull you aside and ask how it’s going. I am, for better or worse, independent, and so my first instinct is to try to fix something myself. I have always struggled for asking for help when I need it, so a good mentor should be approachable and show follow-through. Being in a new building means that I have a question about something every day; it feels like the entire staff is mentoring me!

2. Challenges you to be a leader 

Good mentors should not just be focused on helping a teacher “survive,” but should also encourage a new teacher to put down some roots in areas to grow leadership skills. I have been thrown into some positions where I did not feel qualified or ‘experienced’ enough to handle, only to come out of it wiser and more competent.

3. Corrects you when you’re wrong 

Being a new teacher is kind of like being a puppy: we can be overconfident, reckless, and we most definitely make mistakes. A good mentor will tactfully put it all in perspective when you don’t have a great grasp or understanding of an instructional technique or method, school politics, finance, and the “law of the land” in your building.

4. Is someone you can “watch and learn” from 

A good mentor walks the talk. He or she is a person to observe and learn from, and is consistent with the best practices that are being coached to you in the classroom. A good mentor doesn’t tell you one thing and then practices the opposite in the classroom. He or she is experienced and should be a person you visit to watch teaching in action. For me, seeing experienced teachers teach is like watching artists paint. Everything they do is deliberate and skilled.

What about you, teachers? What do you think good mentors do?





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