By Teachers, For Teachers
Navigating your way as a new educator in the teaching profession can be challenge. Even though you may have been trained to handle all of the responsibilities that being a teacher entails, it can still get quite overwhelming. Luckily, experienced teachers have been in your shoes and know just how you are feeling, as well as the pressures that come along with being a first-time teacher. They have walked your path through the teaching profession and can provide you with the knowledge and advice you need to get through your first year. Unfortunately, not all schools provide a mentor-teacher program, so it’s up to you to seek out your own mentor. It’s really worth your time and effort to find a suitable mentor because of the many benefits. In fact, research shows that first-year teachers who have the support of a mentor are more likely to develop better classroom management skills, have student achievement go up, and are more likely to stay in the teaching profession. Here are five more reasons why new teachers should seek out a mentor teacher.
Let’s face it, experienced teachers know what they are talking about. They have been in the teaching profession for some time and have the experience and knowledge to pass down to you. They have dealt with just about everything and can share their experiences with you so you can learn from them. Good mentors share their own struggles, and how they overcame them. They are also equipped with knowledge and skills that you may not have acquired just yet. By sharing these experiences with you, they are enhancing your teaching performance and providing you with the knowledge and expertise that you need in order to be an effective teacher.
No one knows better about what you are going through as a new teacher than an experienced mentor teacher. They, too, were just like you, starting out as a new teacher trying to find their way. They know the ropes and can provide you with thoughtful advice based on their own experiences. Mentors can provide you with helpful inside information, like where to go if you need help with classroom technology, where to sit in the teachers’ lounge, which administrator you should watch for, or how you should write your lesson plans so you won’t have to rewrite them. They can help you prepare for evaluations, class field trips, and parent-teacher conferences. They are your biggest asset and closest ally. Think of a mentor teacher as your guide and dearest confidant.
It can be easy as a first-year teacher to lose track of what is expected of you, especially because there are so many tasks and responsibilities that must be accomplished throughout the year. Mentors can help you with all of that. Their job is to guide, support, and instruct you of what needs to be done. They can help clarify goals for student learning, help you understand the curriculum and learning standards, help you prepare for observations and student-teacher conferences, and get you ready for any formal or informal assessments. In short, they are there to help keep you on track.
A mentor teacher can help build your confidence and give you a sense of security that can help you in your first year of teaching. Many new teachers lack confidence because they are unsure of themselves and their abilities. A mentor can help build that confidence by offering hope and optimism. Good mentor teachers support you and help you adjust to your environment. They have the ability to inspire you, all while instilling a healthy sense of confidence in you. They are there for you when you need them and know how to leave you when you’ve become self-sufficient in your teaching methods.
Another benefit a mentor teacher has is that they can give you useful feedback on how well you are doing during your first year. A good mentor is effective at giving you feedback that’s instructional versus being overly critical. They have the ability to help you improve your teaching by giving you thoughtful advice based on their years of experience. It’s just important to remember to focus on the information that they are giving you, rather than trying to justify or defend what they are telling you.
When seeking out a mentor, remember to be proactive and find someone that is highly committed, experienced, inspirational, a role model to others, and is skilled at providing instructional support. Mentor teachers can provide invaluable help during your first year, so it’s essential that you find one that suits all of your needs.
What qualities do you think a mentor teacher should possess? Please share the characteristics you feel makes a great mentor in the teaching profession in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you have to say.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.