Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Reflections of an {almost} Mentor Teacher

So, yesterday at 3:45, I was asked to take the training to become a Instructional Mentor to our Resident Educators.  Today I am sitting in a hotel two hours from home - having completed our first full day of training. 

I love learning new things, and this is right up my alley! 

But, holy cat, has education changed a ton since I started teaching more than 15 years ago! 

Back in the day, there weren't mentors.  No one was really worried if I was stressing out, or would even know unless I freaked out in the teachers' lounge (which happened a bunch my first couple of years!) 

I was so fortunate to work with teachers who were more than willing to help me out when I needed it.  At some point during those first few years, I made a nuisance out of myself to nearly every teacher in our building!  I remember crying more than once over kids' bad behavior or particularly hateful parent letters.  I also remember the joy with which I told every teacher who ever helped me out how great a certain kid did on his latest math test!  Those friendships have survived the test of time - they are some of the women I call "besties" to this day!

I also had great classes my first few years who made it easy to hone my skills.  I started teaching my first year at the end of first quarter when a teacher suddenly quit.  Let me tell you, folks, this was such a blessing!  All of the decorations were up, the gradebook was set up, there were discipline procedures in place, and (best for me, even though I feel a little guilty about it) the parents were so glad to see the previous teacher leave, they love, loved me!   It was like when I was little and my sister got in trouble; for a while I got to play the favorite child, you know what I mean? 

One other factor that I believe helped me a ton was my professional history up until that point.  I left school with a teaching certificate, but didn't use it for about 5 years.  When I went back to the profession, I started as a sub.  The lessons I learned from subbing were invaluable!  I kept a notebook with good/bad ideas of the teachers' for whom I subbed.  Taking on the responsibility for 28 kids at age 28 was, for me, a lot more successful than it would have been when I was 23.  There's something to be said for life experience!

I'll be able to write a more comprehensive post about the RE process after tomorrow's class, but today I just felt like sharing a quick reflection.  With almost 50% of all new teachers leaving within 5 years, it was an interesting trip down memory lane to see what caused me to stay.

So, then, I'm curious about your journey.  What factors have influenced your path in education?


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