This year has been a year of mentoring for me. I had the amazing opportunity to participate in the AASA More Than a Power Lunch series for Women Educational Leaders, where I received regular mentoring from a Superintendent across the country. I also facilitated an aspiring administrator program in my own district, where veteran assistant principals served as mentors to aspiring leaders.
These experiences have reminded me of the value of mentoring, at all stages in a career. They also highlight the importance of paying it forward. One of the best parts of education is that there is almost always someone who has walked a path before you, someone who can help you along the way. But that means that we need to be that person for those who come after us.
I have been an educator for 20 years, serving as a teacher, a peer coach, as assistant principal, a principal, and a director. I am blessed to have worked for a number of amazing leaders who became my mentors along my journey.
Recently two people approached me separately, on Twitter, asking if we could meet in person so I could share my leadership journey with them. On their own, each of these educator was seeking out mentoring and researching different leadership pathways. While few of us travel the same path, we can all benefit from talking to someone who has traveled before us. I was happy to meet with these educator and share the choices I have made to be the leader that I am today.
As a self-proclaimed introvert, I am not a fan of forced “networking” where a large group of relative strangers end up in a room together, forced to discuss a list of questions provided by yet another stranger. I much prefer to have personal, 1:1 conversations with other educators. This not only makes me less anxious in an awkward social situation, but it allows me to get to know someone at a much more personal level.
I would like to encourage all of my fellow educators to do two things this summer as you rest and relax and read:
- Reach out to someone whose career you admire, someone from whom you could learn, or someone you just want to get to know better. Schedule time to meet with him or her in person (or via video chat) and talk.
- Be open to others reaching out to you, seeking advice. We all have something to contribute and you never know when someone might benefit from an experience you are willing to share. Pay it forward.