Monday, September 1, 2014

Everyone Needs a Mentor

Who are you responsible for? It is a big question. For teachers the obvious answer is students for administrators it may be teachers, but I encourage you to think differently. Take a moment and think about the people that you have recommended for a job at your school. Do you take responsibility for that person's actions? Do you feel somewhat guilty when they make a mistake or are out of line? 

You should, because you are one of the primary reasons that they are employed by your school. As a teacher I felt responsible for a group of teachers that I sat on their interview committee. When I gave my recommendation to the principal it felt like I was signing a 30 year mortgage. Hiring a teacher is like buying a house. It looks great at the beginning, full of promise but if it is not properly maintained bad things can happen. That is why it is imperative for lead teachers and administrators to take an intentional role in the development of novice teachers. Mentoring programs are great and they work, but I am looking deeper. Most mentoring programs pair a experienced teacher with a novice. The team works together to improve the practice of the novice. The part that is often missing is high quality constructive feedback. My experience as a person being mentored didn't give me clear direction about how to be a better teacher. It lacked frank conversations that were needed to help me see the faults. 

I encourage you to find someone that you can be responsible for. Guide them and if need be have a hard conversation that will make them a better educator.