For Mentoring Month: Educators Are Mentors, Too!
Since January is National Mentoring Month, it’s a perfect opportunity to honor the mentoring that you, as educators, do naturally, every day of your career.
No one questions the benefits of mentoring our young people. Studies show that students with mentors have better attitudes, confidence and school attendance:
- Higher graduation rate
- Higher college enrollment rates
- Better behavior and relationships
- Enhanced self-esteem
Teacher, Mentor, Friend
Students form a special bond with the educators who evolve into mentors. In this excerpt from a student essay, the student describes how a teacher gave her courage, faith and a stronger commitment to education: “I remember him firmly assuring me that if I took his class and tried my best, he would not let me fail… Every class was not only a math lesson but a lesson in respect and hard-work and dedication… He never let me down.”
Another inspirational excerpt comes from a letter written to an English teacher at the Tennessee School for the Blind: “It wasn't long before we realized that you were teaching us much more than English. You taught us that it was respectable to be blind. You taught us that with self-esteem and hard work we could attain any goals we set for ourselves. We needed a role model, and you were there.”
Tips for Good Mentoring
Most educators already have jam-packed schedules, but luckily, mentoring doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Often, one insightful question or suggestion may be all that’s needed to make a difference.
As you mentor, remember these 5 simple tips:
- Be Approachable – Some students feel comfortable asking for guidance; others are shy or intimidated. Be open, available and approachable.
- Listen – Good listening expresses empathy, caring and understanding. A student’s true meaning, however, may be most clearly conveyed in their tone, attitude, and body language. Paraphrasing their questions or concerns will help ensure good communication, which clears the path to effective mentoring.
- Be Objective – As you form a close and friendly bond with a student, remind them that you will be maintaining objectivity when it comes to grades and expectations.
- Check In – Keeping in touch with the student helps them stay on track with their goals, and confirms that you care.
- Broaden Their Connections – There’s no exclusivity in mentoring! Recommend avenues for your student to find additional mentors and contacts.
What’s In It for You?
You’ve already proven your dedication to your students. But don’t forget that mentoring pays off for you, too! The biggest reward is the gratification of really making a difference in a student’s life. Other benefits include:
- A Good Rap – Word of mouth is a powerful tool among young people. Good mentors become the most popular teachers in school, with enthusiastic students requesting their classes.
- Tuned-In – As you deepen relationships with students, you’ll become more astute, tuning in to their thinking patterns, and the issues that matter to them.
- Well-Networked – As you suggest contacts for students, you’ll strengthen your own personal network.
The value of your mentoring will extend beyond your career, as your mentees go on to accomplish great things, even after you retire.
Join us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and share highlights as well as reach out to those individuals who have encouraged and guided you and had a lasting impact on your life. Thank you, Mentors!