This past week celebrated a National Mentor Day-who knew, right? I think mentors are very important. I think everyone should have someone who is there to support them and that they can look up to. My first year teaching I did not have what I'd call a good mentor. She made fun of me for using technology (they were old school with packets of worksheets). She did not help me prepare the kiddos (the way she prepared her own class) for our standardized testing. (My theory on that is she didn't want a first year teaching having a class to better than hers). I left that school after two years and did not look back.
At my new school I had a teacher on my team who I considered to be like a mentor to me. She shared ideas and resources. She was who I inspired to be. Now, I try to pass that on to new teachers as well. I think if we supported new teachers more we wouldn't have so many people leaving the profession.
Anyway, I facilitate for our Student Council. One of the things I really wanted to start this year was a Peer Mentor program. So the Student Council representatives could go into the classroom (they were willing to give up their recess time, so it didn't affect instruction or anything) and sit with, talk to, read with a younger student in need of a role model. I asked my colleagues to send me the names of students in their classes who could use a little encouragement, confidence, or maybe someone else to be accountable to. I got 2 replies. :( I asked our administration to send me names-they certainly know the kids they see in the office all the time. I got no replies. If you know me, you know I'm stubborn and do not give up that easily!
So I ask our Special Ed. teacher if we can use her students and she reluctantly agreed. She wasn't sure about all the interruptions and strangers in her room, but she acquiesced (I can be convincing. :) One of the 2nd Graders who was so gung-ho to start being a mentor, she went in on her own and began being a friend to a student who has about 12 different labels, including being autistic. The teacher said she was wonderful with him and it went much better than she had expected. He usually doesn't socialize at all but was talking up a storm with this little girl.
A little late in the year, but better late than never. The rest of the kids I've paired up with Kindergarteners-they can always use a good role model. I'm excited, the kids are excited and I just thought I'd share our idea with you guys.