Mentoring, for me, looks like willful sacrifice and unconditional support. Like a therapist, you remain accessible in times of crisis while being a supportive presence over time. It is continuous work that builds over time into a bigger picture of stronger professionals doing great work with our students.
The difference I have made in my mentees over the years is building their confidence in their work. A teacher within their first year struggles with autonomy of how to manage their classrooms. Having those open-ended conversations when it comes to classroom management, lesson planning, and instructional delivery strengthens their confidence as professionals over time. As a result, the number of questions decrease and you hear about more successes than challenges. The challenges happen less frequently throughout the year. When I see my mentees, they exude confidence and positivity because they have found processes and routines that work for them.
Furthermore, data is an integral part of the learning environment and mentorship. I view my data from a variety of perspectives, both qualitative and quantitative. I use data to improve my instructional delivery by looking at student misconceptions via the results. I use data to praise students for demonstrating strong understanding while spiraling our lowest performing content areas back into learning.
The impact I want most to have as a mentor is that I helped retain the best and the brightest professionals in education! It is a stellar achievement ro know that your support and guidance enabled a mentee to decide to return the next year.
Finally, throughout my mentorship experience, I learned that I am perfectly imperfect. I too, am allowed to grow and learn in the process of mentoring. My mentees have taught me some things as well. Learning “people first” is an integral part of mentoring before you can address the work that involved. I must give myself grace.