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I am a kindergarten teacher

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I am a kindergarten teacher and a second section of kindergarten was added to our building this year. This is the first time I have had a grade level teaching partner. A first grade teacher has been assigned to be a mentor through our PLC. This has helped tremendously. The first grade mentor thanked me for giving support to the new teacher, and thinks that I should become the mentor. I feel that through the collaboration I am learning just as much from her as she is from me. I know my teaching has improved from everything I have learned.

So important for all

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I have been teaching for 8 years in the same school and district. I was very fortunate to be surrounded with a extremely helpful and approachable admin and group of colleagues. Mentoring is a very important step for not only new teachers but experienced teachers too. I really feel that this is a valuable way for all teachers to continue their education. Their is a mentoring program in place for my school district and all new teachers are assigned to a mentor as close to their grade level and content area as possible. It has been a worthwhile and positive experience for many of my colleagues whether they were in the role of mentor or mentee. I remember my time in the mentor program quite fondly, and while I am not a mentor for new teachers I am quite willing. I have been a cooperating teacher for student teachers, and I have very much enjoyed my time working with a younger generation of teachers. I learned much from them because they bring fresh and new ideas to the classroom. It is a win-win situation for all involved with mentoring.

Accidentally commented twice,

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Accidentally commented twice, and I'm not sure how to delete my second comment...

Mentors

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5th and 6th grade teacher from Wanamingo, MN

Why are we lacking positive mentors? Well, we live in a day and age where people are the busiest they have ever been. Compared to when our parents were growing up (60's and 70's), life it a lot faster. Some teachers, usually the good ones, are involved in numerous activities outside of teaching - youth group leaders, coaches, and community functions, to name a few. Those take up a good chunk of time. Teachers also have lives outside of school. All of these combined leaves not much other time for additional activities.

During the school day, as we all know, teachers are increasingly busy, with what seems like additional requirements being thrown at us each day. Adding one more responsibility for a teacher is a lot to ask. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be any mentors for new teachers, because I value guidance and being able to bounce things off others for their input. But to want a teacher to add one more duty to their already rigorous schedule without offering any kind of monetary incentive is asking a lot.

Another reason why we might be seeing a lack of mentors is teachers may not know how to do it. If someone were to ask me if I would be a mentor I would ask, "Well, what would that entail? How do I do that?" Maybe a little training for future mentors would be helpful?

I like the idea of mentorship because it's like having a coach in your corner. I also like the face-to-face meetings that come from having a mentor in your school because they know the demographics of the school that their mentee teaches in. The idea of online mentors is great, but for me, I prefer the mentor who is familiar with my surroundings.

I enjoyed reading the article. It made me think back to my first year of teaching. I had a mentor, but it was mostly a time for my mentor and I to see how life was, rather than how teaching was. I think beginning teachers are afraid to voice their opinions or give their thoughts because they think others view them as the "new" teacher or the inexperienced one. I'm now in my fourth year of teaching and always talk to my colleagues when I need help or advice. I don't know what I would do without talking to my colleagues. I would feel like I was all alone and making decisions without asking others for their input. I think there are mentors all around us, but they may not be labeled as "mentors". If we need help, we must ask. How do we know if our students have questions or need help? They ask! We need more mentors, whether you're labeled as one or not. Seek out new teachers to help them get started to a hopefully long and prosperous career!

First grade teacher from Ada, MN

Mentoring Teachers

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I think all new teachers should be assigned a mentor to help guide them and answer questions. It’s funny that teachers are there to teach children, but are standoffish when stepping up to help teach other teachers. My first year of teaching was in a district without a mentoring program. I was scared to death and tried hard to figure things out on my own. I was pretty timid so I didn’t want to ask a lot of questions. During that year, I was very overwhelmed and questioned if I was supposed to be a teacher or not. I feel that having a mentor would have made my first year of teaching more enjoyable and successful. I think all schools should be required to have a mentoring program for new teachers.

First grade teacher from Minnesota

Invaluable!

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This is a great article. I wish I had a mentor for my first year of teaching. This was 20 years ago and I was part of the "sink or swim" mentality. It took me a very long time to be confindent in my teaching. My district is just now beginning a mentoring program. We have a new kindergarten teacher in our building and I can see just how valuable this is. Not only does she have a mentor, but she has the support of another K teacher to work with and a school who has moved to PLCs as a way to collaborate. I wish I would have had all of that at the start of my career, but I can say it is very valuable even at year 21.

Second Grade teacher from MN

So important.

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This was a great post! My first year of teaching consisted of working in a Kindergarten classroom in a school district where there was no mentorship program. I was completely lost. I felt as though I wasn't prepared to take on the job of teaching these youngsters, and had no one to turn to for help. I recall being extremely frustrated and completely overwhelmed, yet I didn't want to go to my principal for help. Fortunately, I was soon acquainted with another K teacher soon after and she quickly took me under her wing. She is the reason I made it through my first year! Fast forward 8 years, and I am now in a district that is just getting started in developing a mentorship program. I understand how important mentoring is and look forward to helping other new teaches in the future.

4th grade teacher from Ada, MN

Mentoring

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I am in my seventh year teaching fourth grade in a rural school. Our school district doesn't have a mentoring program, but I was lucky to have a partner teacher in the other section of fourth grade who brought me along with her throughout these years. We have a good working relationship, we share lessons, worksheets, art projects, special incentives. This works well as then both sections of fourth grade are doing mostly the same activities. It makes me scared that in the next two years she may retire and I will become that mentor teacher to someone new! I still have many lessons to learn and am anxious to change roles, at times I don't think I am ready but look forward to new experiences and ideas from a new partner in fourth grade (in a few years :) )

Middle School Social Studies teacher, Bismarck, ND

Power of Online Mentoring

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I am fortunate enough to have taught in two separate districts, both of which have mentoring programs for new teachers. So, I have experienced the benefits of mentoring first hand with my mentor and in mentoring two teachers myself. Relationships are so important for any organization to develop! The online mentoring option is not just a great idea for those who are struggling with starting a mentoring program; but, they should be a strong component of existing programs. Emailing or blogging about questions may be less intimidating to new teachers, rather than having the face to face conversations. Online mentoring may be a little less embarrassing for those questions you really don't want to ask, but know you need to. It also allows mentors time to formulate answers or research answers and get back to their mentees. A win-win all around.

Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer

Important Topic

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Hi Lisa -

Mentoring is sooo important and I thank you for writing this post. 46% of new teachers leave their profession within 5 years (source: http://onforb.es/pV7Lqu Forbes). Imagine if we had more mentors supporting those new teachers.

In the corporate world, many new employees get mentors or "buddies" to support them/answer any questions and really just be there. Why can't we try this from the ground-up in schools? As you said, this doesn't have to be a huge investment in time and can have huge rewards.

Thanks again Lisa -- I remain inspired by your passion -- Best,
Elana

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