In Greek mythology, Mentor (Greek: Μέντωρ, Méntōr; gen.: Μέντορος) was the son of Alcimus or Anchialus or Heracles and Asopis. In his old age Mentor was a friend of Odysseus who placed Mentor and Odysseus’ foster-brother Eumaeus in charge of his son Telemachus, and of Odysseus’ palace, when Odysseus left for the Trojan War (Retrieved from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mentor).
The role of mentors is so important, regardless of the profession one is in. Especially for us educators, having a mentor and mentoring other teachers can evolve into an amazing and creative relationship.
It is as simple as talking to someone about their worries, concerns, interests and guiding them into new paths. New kinds of teaching, new studies even. Be open and help out someone who needs it!
● A new colleague: All of us remember how we felt when we first started teaching. We either felt scared of trying anything new out, or nervous before we started teaching a new level or student or class. Letting them know what you would do in those cases can feel reassuring, Perhaps they feel disappointed after a bad teaching moment – you can help them reflect on it and move on. With someone there to guide them, things are easier and can be solved.
● A colleague with a problem. Again, as with new teachers a colleague might come up to you with a problem they have. A mentoring moment! Help them first of all understand that whatever it is, it has a solution. That if they have done something that didn’t work, it is not the end of the world (a lot of us tend to be self-flagellating) – they can reflect on it, see what they can do the next time it happens and not dwell on it too much. It can drain them of any motivation they have – this is another good aspect of having a mentor: getting all the motivation you need.
● A fellow educator in need of new ideas. Either new or experienced, all of us have been in need of new ideas. We feel at some point that we have completely dried up and cannot come up with anything new. That is another form of mentoring! We can help that colleague get out of that predicament. Some new ideas and guidance and they’re good to go!
After their lessons, have feedback sessions with them, for you both to reflect on – set up discussion groups and/or feedback sessions, as I described in my previous post, PD in Focus 2.