I have written many posts on coaching. I was a literacy coach in a previous position. Most recently I left a position as a director who oversaw the instructional coaches at each of our district school sites. I am passionate about coaching and my beliefs related to instructional coaching. But today I’m transitioning into some reflections on mentoring.
In my new district, we are recreating a new teacher induction and support program (formerly known as BTSA here in California). The new induction standards call out the role of mentor (formerly know as a Support Provider under BTSA), so that is the term we are using.
According to dictionary.com a mentor is
a wise and trusted counselor or teacher
The same resource has 11 different definitions of a coach, but none of them relate to the support of teachers. The two closest definitions, that we in education have hijacked, are:
a person who trains an athlete or team of athletes;
a person who instructs an actor or a singer
As I reflect on those definitions, I am struck by the differences and the possible ambiguity when this role impacts so many teachers and students. Luckily, I have worked in systems that clearly defined the terms we used, so that everyone knew what we meant by “literacy coach” or “academic coach”. My colleague who will oversee the new induction program has also worked with a committee of teachers and administrators to create a definition of our new “mentor” expectations. Our expectations for mentors are actually very similar to that of the coaches I’ve worked with in the past. Our mentors will be asked to teach model/ demo lessons, observe classroom instruction, and provide feedback on lessons.
We are tapping into the knowledge, experience, and expertise of our veteran teachers to serve as mentors to our newest colleagues who will just be entering the teaching profession. Most importantly, we hope to create an experience where new teachers feel supported and welcomed, and therefore more likely to remain in the professional longer than the average (where teacher turnover rates are sad and shocking).
Some of my most influential learnings as a teacher and a leader have come with support from my mentors. There are a few leaders who have served, and continue to serve, as my mentor throughout my career and I know that I am a better educator, a better leader, because of their wise and trusted counsel and support.
- Does your school or district have coaches or mentors?
- How is the role defined?
- Have you had a valuable coach or mentor in your career?
*I’m participating in the #educoach blogging challenge and look forward to continuing the conversation with colleagues through comments, Voxer, and Twitter!