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National Mentoring Month

By Trish Geraghty

Happy National Mentoring Month! Where would we be without our mentors? That is a question I am grateful I do not need to ask. My career and sanity would not be in place if it were not for the amazing mentors I have had and continue to have in my life. The importance of mentors far exceeds what can be captured in research. In education, we know the importance of mentoring for new professionals, but let us not forget that we all can benefit from mentoring. Let’s explore the benefits of mentoring from all perspectives.

New teachers

Mentoring for new teachers goes beyond providing guidance in the classroom. Mentors are the first go-to person a new teacher has for a variety of needs. Anything from figuring out the copier to finding the field trip forms—mentors are there. Mentors also give a new teacher an insight into the school’s culture and how daily school life transpires. I know I would have been lost without the support of my mentor those first few years. 

I know, as I said above, that the importance of mentoring goes beyond research. But let’s look at the research on the impact of mentoring on student achievement. Students who had a teacher who experienced positive mentoring during their student teaching performed better than their peers. Not to mention that new teachers with positive mentoring experience stay in the profession. Those are two huge reasons why an intentional mentoring program should be included in your school and district talent development plans. 

Vetern teachers

In every aspect of my career, I have been fortunate enough to have a mentor. However, I was only assigned a mentor during my first three years of teaching. After that point, it was on me to find a mentor. Special education can be an isolating area of teaching. As a special education teacher, I might have been one of two teachers at a school. Given the turnover rate, I quickly became the mentor teacher to new teachers, even though I still  could have benefited from a mentor of my own. This is when I discovered Professional Learning Networks (PLN). You can Google PLNs and find groups available in every subject area looking to expand their knowledge. When I began my career in leadership, a colleague offered to mentor me. What a blessing! I knew then that mentoring is not something you outgrow but that you will always benefit from having a trusted mentor. 

Becoming a mentor

If you have received mentoring and enjoyed it, consider becoming a mentor. Being a mentor is time consuming but rewarding. You get the opportunity to help guide someone and avoid the pitfalls you may have faced. Plus, I know that for me, mentoring is a way to stay current with research and what universities are teaching. I always learn just as much from my mentee as they do from me. 

If your school or district does not have a mentoring program, consider how you can create and implement one. If a mentoring program is already in place, then consider its effectiveness and make refinements as needed. Challenge the system to think about adding mentoring at all levels and years of experience. Mentoring is a gift enjoyed by both the giver and the receiver. 

 

Trish Geraghty
Trish Geraghty, an accomplished educational leader with 20+ years of experience, excels in curriculum development, instructional design, and professional development. Her proven track record includes successful support for schools, districts, educators, and students. Committed to ensuring universal access to high-quality learning, Trish is a visionary advocate for inclusive education. Her innovative approach to curriculum development reflects a keen understanding of evolving standards. Trish's transformative influence extends beyond traditional boundaries, actively contributing to the broader advancement of education. A catalyst for positive change, she inspires excellence in others, shaping the future of education through unwavering commitment and visionary leadership.

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