"In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care." ~ Maya Angelou in this PSA
Day six of the Reflective Blogging Challenge asks us to consider, "What does a good mentor do?" When I think back over my career I realise how fortunate I have been to have so many good mentors to guide me. Back then, I probably wouldn't have used the term mentor, but rather these people were trusted colleagues and many became friends. I think Maya Angelou's quote sums up why they were effective mentors - they cared.
Teaching is a challenging profession - it is not the type of job you can go to school to 'learn' and then, voila, you are an amazing teacher. Educational theory and understanding how children learn is important, certainly, but the art of teaching is a craft honed over time. I believe that is why the role of a mentor is so important, though what a good mentor might do would probably look different for different people at different points in their career.
At times a mentor can be that quiet voice of confidence to let you know that you can do it. A person you can trust and turn to when things don't work out as planned. As a teacher's confidence grows a good mentor might be someone to learn with, to encourage us to try different strategies, to take risks. It might be a colleague who shares their practice with you or plans lessons with you, pushing you just a little farther in your thinking.
I'm sure I could research and discover the qualities of good mentors and develop an argument about why mentorship needs to be an integral part of teacher induction. However, it is day 6 of the challenge, I've just finished my first day back after the break and I am tired! Before calling it a night however I just want to say thank you - to all of my many mentors... you cared.