Mentorship is the key to success. Every person that has achieved big dreams has been mentored by someone who came before them. The partnership between one person who is ahead with the person who is coming up behind is powerful. Mentorship allows for guidance, insight and warning for someone facing those very same obstacles for the first time.
Mentorship can be an organic process where one person seeks out someone they admire to ask questions and learn from. Mentorship can even consist of several mentors hand picked by the mentee for their expertise in a very specific area.
What Mentorship Shouldn’t Be
Mentorship does not have to be dictated, forced or assigned. It should be available and encouraged. This means the process of mentorship is applauded instead of frowned upon. It is a sign of growth instead of punishment. It is open ended for the mentee to can get aligned with the path they desire.
In education, oftentimes a veteran educator is paired up with a newbie teacher for mentorship. There is rarely any thought put into how these two individuals mesh or align with values, goals, or style. Due to this mismatch, the mentorship never gains momentum or strength to propel change. What a waste.
What Mentorship Could Look Like: For the Mentee
Spend time reflecting on how you want to improve your instructional practice. Think of educators you admire who are strong in those areas and jot their names down next to your specific improvement goals. This person does not even have to know they are your mentor. You can simply watch from afar and take mental notes of what they do and how they do it. If you are comfortable approaching them to ask a few questions, go for it!
Create the mentorship relationship you desire. Decide if you want to meet formally or informally, how often you want to catch up, if you prefer to watch them in action and need to get coverage for your class, etc. Designing your mentorship experience increases the chance you will find value in it and that it will translate into success in the classroom for yourself and your students.
The most important aspect of mentorship is that you get a choice in who you allow to influence you. If you are new or don’t yet know who might be a good fit, you can take suggestions from colleagues or administrators. If the person suggested ends up not being a great fit for how you want to grow, do not hang in the relationship. You have limited time to invest in yourself, so use it wisely. Take another suggestion and alter your course of action.
What Mentorship Could Look Like: For the Mentee: For the Mentor
Before diving into giving advice and guidance, take time to understand how your mentee wants to grow. Understanding their goals and dreams will help you provide the necessary resources, stories or examples to help them grow in that specific area.
It might be tempting to want to help them in a variety of other ways, but staying focused on their goals will allow them to find success faster. As those goals are achieved, new ones can be added.
Be respectful of how they desire the relationship to work. Listen to where, how and how often they want to meet. Their learning style and preferences are paramount in the new knowledge being able to stick.
Although you the mentor are the guide, the mentee is in the driver seat for advocating for what they need, when and how they need it. Be patient, encouraging and resourceful. If you need ideas for what topics to discuss as you meet, you can find this mentor guide helpful. (It is even editable for you to adjust to the needs of the mentee.)
Mentorship is a powerful tool to propel individuals into their potential. When a pairing is a strong match and both show up to do the work, goals and dreams can be achieved.
How has mentorship allowed you to grow into your best self?