One of my personal joys in the last decade of teaching has been to mentor teachers new to the profession. In our district all first and second year teachers are assigned a mentor. I have been one of the teachers fortunate to have been asked to do this. As with anything, it takes time to develop a successful stride when stepping into a new job. Mentoring a new teacher takes commitment and the art of developing relationship. I am in my fifth year of consecutive mentoring with three different teachers – special education, French, and 8th grade literacy. Each has brought a new perspective to me both professionally and personally. Mentoring has challenged me to become a teacher of teachers and to learn from someone new to the profession. Today I met a previous mentor for breakfast – something we frequently shared at a favorite restaurant throughout our two years as mentor and mentee.
My current mentee is fresh and excited about the profession. She constantly strives for self-improvement. She and I plan our lessons and units together as we share how to implement and assess Iowa Core standards. We spend hours pouring over lesson plans, assessing student progress, integrating technology. She is a digital native; I am a digital immigrant. She drags me along, she pushes me forward, she brings out the best in my teaching. She will hand me a lesson plan and then say, “Okay, I can’t wait to see you work your magic on this one.” Even though I am her encourager, she is the one who encourages me. Even though I am her guide, she guides me. Even though I can share experience, she shares a fresh perspective.
With each of my mentees, we have shared ideas, observations, effective instructional techniques, ideas for student engagement, and a friendship – young one with veteran sage, Luke Skywalker with Yoda, Karate Kid with Miyagi. No movie will ever be made about our mentoring journey; the only movie will be the one that runs through our minds as we remember our time of sharing and growing professionally and personally into the teacher we all continually aspire to be.