Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mentoring: Whose Job Is It Anyway?

The first few weeks of school have passed and I have been very busy. As I started my 10th year in education, I knew it was going to be busy. I have some new projects starting this year with blogging, I'm organizing #edcampDetroit, doing a weekly tech guide for my district, #ProjectPLN, creating a online student newspaper, working on my Masters in Educational Technology and a few other things. Needless to say, I've been very busy, but not as busy as the new teachers in my department.

My district has a mentoring program. It's not bad. Veteran teaches are paired with rookies and help them with problems they encounter. They are supposed to meet n a regular basis and keep a log so teachers can receive credit for the hours they meet. I met rarely with my mentor teacher when I was a new kid on the block. Most of the time, the meetings were brief and sometimes I would spend my time sharing my lessons or helping with tech issues. I received most of my mentoring from other teachers I sought out for guidance or teachers that seemed to go out of their way to take me under their wing. For them, I'm eternally grateful.

I see myself doing the same thing now. Some of the new teachers have been stressing over the new curriculum, failing technology, crazy students and parents among other things. I feel it is my job to go out of my way and check in on these teachers to make sure they are doing ok. In my department, new teachers are very lucky because many of use veterans go out of our way to make sure they are doing well. In others departments across education, I hear about too many new teachers being left to fend for themselves. I think that is unacceptable. Fifteen or Twenty minutes of my time to listen to a teacher vent is not going to destroy my day. After being surrounded by teenagers all day, sometimes teachers just need to vent to another teacher. We get so wrapped up in our lives as teachers, we forget that we are all a part of an entire school. We are only as strong as are weakest teachers. If we are not there for each other, who will be?

There will never be enough time in the day as they continue to pack students in our rooms, but we need to look out for one another. Dragging these new teachers out of their rooms to join the group for lunch is one of many ways you can truly save a new teacher's sanity. Make some time at the end of the day to see how the new kids are doing in their room. Do you have any extra posters they could use in their room? Drop them off in their room. Leave a flashdrive with some of your best lessons in their mailbox. Small gestures like this can make the difference in a teacher's life.

Let's not forget the veteran teachers. As schools move toward integrating more technology into the classroom, there are going to be some teachers that have a hard time adjusting to the new tech. If you are a tech savvy teacher, look to adopt a teacher that is not as tech friendly. Find some time and show them some quick and easy tricks to make their life a little easier. A small tip once in a while could make a real difference in their classroom and it will make a huge impact on the students as well.

We are all in this together. If your school has a mentor program, try to get involved. If you have a teacher you work with, try and share the love around if possible. Look to veteran teachers who might need some attention with specific tech needs and see how you can help them during the school year. As I watch the Twitter stream more and more, people are starting to realize that teaches cannot wait for government or administrators to solve the problems in education. We need to support each other and make sure we have a great work environment. It might be the districts job to set up mentoring, but it really is the responsibility of every capable teacher out there to look out for other teachers.

Try and help out a teacher next week.

- @TheNerdyTeacher