Mentoring is something that is not so common in most schools in our country, especially among young educators. The mentors we get are usually the formal ones – professors who are mentors on our thesis or professional development instructors. But what happens when two young teachers enter the mentorship circle?
We must not forget that mentorSHIP ends with SHIP, so like any other relationship, both sides get something in the process. What does that mean exactly?
This means that by mentoring someone, you develop as an educator in countless ways. Here are some ways you improve as an educator by mentoring someone:
- You become a better active listener, and you answer questions better;
- You discover new angles of observation for various methods, activities, and tools you haven’t thought of before;
- You get better as a teacher trainer, and you learn how to motivate adult learners;
- You learn how to explain things to an adult, educated individual in a respectful way;
- You revise all the teaching methodology you learned throughout the years;
- Finally, you feel the deepest, sincere joy when someone you mentored succeeds and becomes a mentor to someone else. This feeling of being proud of someone is truly priceless.
Now, if you ever had the opportunity to mentor someone, you have to bear in mind that one size does not fit all, just like with all your students. Mentoring is a very personal thing, and each mentoring program has to fit the specific needs of the person who is being mentored.
Here are some ways in which I help my colleague Nevena achieve her full potential as an online English teacher:
- We have meetings and live training on tools and methods she wanted to use or something I suggested;
- We share feedback on each other’s articles, video tutorials for digital tools we created, lesson plans, and more;
- She is leading a reflection journal on Padlet – she writes a note about every online lesson she conducts to help her see her teaching gaps;
- We share a classroom on Edmodo with our online learners so that I can see how they communicate and jump in if necessary;
- We have group lessons with all our students once a month so that we can work together;
- She follows the articles on my website and participates in professional development sessions (webinars) as a moderator.
I started mentoring Nevena because she was not confident enough, and she needed a little push in the right direction. Sometimes mentors are there to simply coach mentees and help them with personal development, not only professional development. Our mentorship is mostly focused on teaching online since I have vast experience in distance learning, but these activities I listed above can be applied to any type of educational mentorship.
Here is an unedited text with tips from my colleague, Nevena, whom I have a great honor mentoring in her quest to start teaching online:
Trying to start working online without a mentor is much more complicated than you think. There are so many options available for online tutors, and for those who are looking for tools online, it can be a disaster. We don’t know where to search, what to look for, or what is the other side of the coin of that shiny tool, which is advertised so much.
Despite what most educators think, a new teacher will not have too many questions in the beginning. The reason for this is that new teachers don’t have any ideas when it comes to the main aspects of a quality teaching process online.
Here are some tips I found useful while working with Milica and trying to develop my eclectic online teaching methods:
1.Listen and apply
If you are lucky enough to have a mentor as I did, the first thing to remember is – listen and apply. You will save yourself a lot of time and effort.
2. Ask without fear
Secondly, write down all the questions you have and don’t be afraid to ask. You also need to remember that sharing ideas and experiences is the most crucial part of the journey because it can help another teacher, even if he or she is more experienced. You will make a lot of mistakes along the way, but that doesn’t matter as long as you improve.
3. Use proper digital tools in the classroom
Using the right tools determines the quality of your online classes more than you think. Ask someone with more experience in ed-tech, because you will not remember to test anything before your first class.
If you are still thinking about sharing your teaching experience (read failures) – find a mentor. Even when that person doesn’t have an answer (which will rarely happen), it is good to know that someone has your back and that you can share your failures and learn from them.
If someone wants you to be their mentor, never refuse this opportunity for developing as educators together. Every educator has something to share, regardless of what they may think.
Nevena and I worked together and invited teachers in Serbia for a webinar about distance learning. The webinar was a complete success, and without my mentee moderating a meeting with more than 500 people, I would not be able to lead the webinar.
This article is originally published on British Council Teaching English.
What is your experience with mentorship? Have you been a mentee? Have you been a mentor? What have you learned from this experience? Write in the comments, I would love to hear your opinion!