Posted by: lboudreau | August 2, 2011

Mentoring

I start to feel like a department chair.  We’ve had to hire a part-time teacher for two sections of Algebra II.  The school, bless them, hasn’t folded me into that process, instead giving me a bit more summer, but I did get to interview one of the candidates.  I enjoy interviewing candidates; I’m always interested in how they discuss education, and in hearing new ideas.  I feel, too, that even if the candidate isn’t hired (which happens), we’ve all had some sort of teaching encounter– an odd sort of professional development.

We hired the person I interviewed.  Fresh out of Agnes Scott, she’s new to teaching, although experienced in finance, and she’s going to be quite a fine teacher: eager, creative, and energetic.

I may be her official mentor, but I’m new to the school, and they may assign her to someone who, say, already knows Haiku.  Regardless, I will be a mentor to some degree, and I take it seriously.  While there, I had the opportunity to help Lovett develop its mentor teacher program, and it’s become a viable, useful program.  It’s also portable; I freely admit that my best ideas are stolen, and I plan to “borrow” from the Lovett program as we welcome a new math teacher to AGS.

I find this terribly rewarding.  After a summer as a mentor teacher for Breakthrough Atlanta, I am more than ever convinced that good teaching starts with good mentors– from a walking tour of the People and Places You Really Want to Know, to suggestions about dealing with students, to brainstorming creative approaches.  Teaching is at heart a human endeavor, not done best in a vacuum, and everyone benefits– everyone learns– when mentoring works.  I think this is especially true with new teachers; it was certainly true for me– I feel nothing but gratitude for colleagues who showed me the ropes, pushed me to another level, or simply paid attention to what I was trying to do.  (And due to their efforts, I have a library of good ideas– see earlier comment about theft.)

So, the year starts with teaching.  We meet tomorrow for that walking tour and to share curriculum.  And start talking about students and classes.  Makes me happy.

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