Mentorship is a sacred relationship which takes a lot of effort. Too be honest a bit more effort than I thought.
I’ve always known that I’m a person who is happy to share my own personal experiences in hopes that it will help or even empower someone else. That’s always been one-shots/once off, mentorship for the day when the conversation allows for it. You could almost say that I’ve never committed to a longer term mentorship whereby I am the mentor. It is different when I’m the mentee.
As a mentee, I tend to prefer choosing my mentors as opposed to being given a mentor. I don’t know why. I would say it is based on conversations I initiate with the person and I figure that I can learn a lot from the person. When I’m given a mentor it sometimes feels forced, I mean what if we don’t have a mutual vibe to start with. That’s just me. I know that I have to establish my own comfortability. I know that I am not a person who needs to be checked on too often, because I enjoy self-learning and taking that initiative to acquire advice and experienced knowledge when I feel I need it. I’m not opposed to someone checking in on me, but I don’t like the feeling when it comes across as managing. So in essence, I like a mentor who can give me stability/structure but can be flexible with me as well.
As a mentor, I’m not really confident. It is mostly because I know that many people are not like me. I have been appointed mentees (student teachers) and I feel sometimes I need mentorship/a workshop on how to be a mentor because it takes me a while to notice what are other people’s needs in a mentor. My downfall is that I’m so wrapped up in my own business and daily tasks that if a mentee does not walk and talk with me, I forget. I know they would benefit much more if I took the time to slow down and give them my time, maybe sit for a coffee or something.
That’s the problem with teaching practice. Student teachers are placed in schools. The mentor they are assigned is the most busiest person, or we can say active in my other things. The thing with busy people is that you need to catch them in those small moments between events and that takes effort and initiative to be a bit bold and make your needs known to them. However, they are also the problem because to be a good mentor you need to be willing to give time to those who don’t necessarily have the oomf to be bold yet. Hence, they need the guidance to be out there. It means nothing to be good at your job but you cannot pass on your skills. Yes, you hope that people are watching enough to learn and be curious enough to ask, but it isn’t always the case.
Making connections is difficult, speaking as a semi-introvert. Sometimes it takes longer to analyse the room, to process who are the people around you and decide, “how best do you want to show up?” We do not always get it right.
In the education space, we sometimes lose potentially good teachers because of this mentorship dilemma. It is sad because of the amount of teachers we will be losing up to the year 2030. I feel bad, as I reflect that I could have done better. Not as an excuse, but can we also acknowledge that I am only in my second year of teaching; having a student teacher was not really something I could prepare well for. However, I take it as a learning experience for me. I hope to be more intentional next time, if the opportunity presents itself, maybe with my grade 12 mentees.
Thank you for your time. Love and light to you all.
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