I’ve been thinking about mentors lately. At the outset of every school year I stress the importance of building relationships around the school. Relationships need to be nurtured with students, colleagues, parents, and so on. In particular I stress the imperative that students must feel cared for and guided by their teachers, and valued by their classmates. This is essential. I want every student to feel that there is an adult in their world that they can seek out for a conversation, for advice, for a moment of listening. I don’t often use the word mentor when I think about these relationships.
Building relationships and being a good listener are foundational to mentoring but mentorship is far more.
It’s not about friendship. Mentors teach. Whether it is through role modeling, offering advice, or challenging one’s beliefs and thinking it is about teaching and learning. It is about being pushed to consider alternatives or future directions. From learning a specific skill to mapping out future choices, mentors engage in significant and potentially life changing experiences for their mentees. While that sounds pretty “heady” and serious, it’s not something that happens overnight or without an amount of relationship building to begin with.
I’ve been thinking about mentors as I watch my two sons, both in their 20’s, navigate their worlds. My oldest son graduated from college, took a low paying volunteer type job with AmericCorps and ended up working in an office surrounded by interesting people. He ended up working closely with an individual who grew into his mentor. Over the course of the year, he Continue reading