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[Professional Development] 4 Ways to Become a Better Mentor

[Professional Development] 4 Ways to Become a Better Mentor

Great mentors can be the key to setting yourself up for success in any career. Being a mentor can be a great way to pass down the wisdom, tips, and tricks you’ve learned over the course of your career. Many veteran teachers often volunteer (or are urged to) mentor an incoming teacher. While being a mentor can be a lot of work, mentoring new teachers is critical to the success of the school year (and their teaching career as a whole). Here are a few best practices to help you mentor in a more effective way this school year:

  1. Start off with self-assessment of your mentee

Most people tend to have a pretty good read on what their personal strengths and weaknesses are, despite a lack of experience on the job. Begin your relationship by asking a few simple questions, such as what your mentee’s background looks like, what he or she likes about the field of education, what he or she is most nervous about, and where he or she feels his or her strengths and weaknesses lie. Consider having your mentee take a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® or CliftonStrengths 34 (formerly Clifton StrengthsFinder) assessment. Knowing your mentee’s perspective is likely to save you a lot of time.

  1. Observe your mentee in action

Let your mentee settle into a classroom routine and then schedule a time to come and observe him or her in action. Write down what you liked, what thought he or she could improve upon, and what ways you’ve overcome the same challenge in your own classroom. Your mentee may face the same challenges you once did and will definitely appreciate your feedback!

  1. Acquaint your mentee with others

For everyone, even a seasoned teacher, starting a new job (in a possibly brand-new place) can be overwhelming. Take this time to introduce your mentee to others and invite him or her to social outings. Is there a weekly happy-hour gathering? How about a softball league, book club, or workout group? Insider tips can help your mentee feel more welcome and in tune with what’s going on at your school.

  1. Don’t sugarcoat the good, bad, and ugly truths

It can be easy to give only positive advice and tips about your own personal experience at school. However, your mentee is still fresh into his or her teaching career and will want to hear all of the good and bad parts about your journey thus far. Use your negative experiences as teaching moments for your mentee. What problems have you encountered, and how did you overcome them? While it’s important to talk about the negative experiences, remain objective and neutral. Let your mentee form his or her own opinions about other teachers and building or district policies.

While you’re building relationships with new teachers at your school, make sure to evaluate and grow in your own performance with these helpful self-reflection tips!