Mentoring Versus Carping: How to Pair Mentors with Mentees

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As you prepare to start the year, you recognize you have several new, enthusiastic teachers joining your team. They are a great group of hires and you are sure that, with good guidance, they’ll all grow into teaching “stars” in short order. To help accomplish that goal, you want each of them to have a teaching mentor for their first two years.

As you set about pairing new teachers with experienced ones in a mentoring relationship, you must pay close attention to a mix of personalities. Some of the mentors, though meaning well, have been seen as constant critics for a new teacher who is insecure and wants to create her or his own style. Mentors who prefer a laid-back approach seem to not be giving much guidance to a teacher who is really looking for professional support. Some mentors are gruff and no nonsense and work well with some teachers while crushing others. Others are constantly supportive.

It’s a tough assignment to set-up these relationships but, done well, they reap huge rewards in both professional teachers and long-term relationships. Sometimes you barely know the new hires, but what should you look for?

  1. Is the person you are considering for a mentor well suited to the job in general with the skills, time, and attributes to allow him or her to work with others?
  2. Is the mentor a positive force and accepted in his or her own right and for responsibilities in your school?
  3. Is the mentee more inclined to need support and guidance or confidant, only wanting help when he or she asks for it?
  4. How will you introduce the mentor and mentee to each other so the mentorship develops into a cooperative experience not a boss-underling or master-student relationship?
  5. Are the reporting relationships clearly understood by both mentor and mentee, particularly with regard to those that will reach your desk?
  6. Has the new hire had experience in mentoring relationships before? If so, how did they go? You might want to recheck references on this account.
  7. Has the mentor had experience in mentoring relationships before? If so, how did they go? Look back over past mentoring experiences and see the type(s) of personalities he or she works with best.
  8. How and when will you check to make sure you’ve got the correct match-ups? If the relationship isn’t working, who initiates the change?

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