You’ve probably heard about how important it is for teachers to have a high quality mentors… and it is. But even the best mentors can be busy or not the right person to turn to in a given situation. As a teacher, you don’t just need one mentor. You need a whole board of advisors. Here’s who should be on it:
1. Someone who gives great all-around advice.
How do you know? Think about how you feel afterwards. Or read this piece on teaching advice – the good, the bad, and, “That would never happen in MY class.”
2. Someone whose whose teaching style you admire.
You don’t necessarily need to confide in this person – in fact, you may even find them a bit intimidating. The main thing you want is permission to watch them teach and ask questions as needed.
3. Someone who teaches a similar subject.
From this person, you want lesson ideas, lesson plans, and maybe help troubleshooting your lesson plans.
4. Someone who teaches similar students – or even the same students.
This can be the same person you talk lesson planning with, but it doesn’t have to be. If you teach remedial biology, it can be helpful to get lesson plans from an AP bio teacher, but you may be better off holding strategy sessions with a remedial English teacher.
5. Someone you complain well with.
Sometimes you have to break the “stay positive” code to stay sane. But picking the right complaining buddy is an important decision. Here’s why… plus, some other reasons complaining about work can be a lot like drinking.
6. Someone who remembers your strengths, even when you don’t.
Often, this is not a teacher at all. It could be a friend, family member, or significant other, maybe even someone who you just snapped at for making a well-meaning suggestion like, “Try making your lessons fun!” Here’s something to share with the loved ones you know are trying to help – even if they keep saying all the wrong things.
P.S. You can now get your copy of Adequate Yearly Progress: A Novel!