Monday, September 22, 2014

The Benefits of Having a Mentor: October's Stepping Stones

For October's Stepping Stones in Arts & Activities magazine, I wanted to focus on the benefits of having a mentor, even if you've just transferred to a different school.

What is a mentor?  If you’re entering a new school, it’s good to have someone with prior knowledge to help you adjust to your new environment.  A mentor can be a co-worker, a fellow art teacher in the district, or a group of teachers, such as an art team.  There are many benefits to having a mentor when you begin at a new school.  Even if you’ve been teaching for years, it’s always good to have a helping hand when learning a new school environment. 

A mentor should welcome you to the family.  When you’re working in a new school, you are starting off with new faces, both staff and students.  He/she can introduce you to the staff, give you a tour around the school, and show you the ins and outs of where everything located.  

A mentor will be one of your go-to people with questions.  When setting up in a new school, you will have many questions that need to be asked, such as where the closest copy machine is located.  Visual art mentors are especially handy to help you with idea exchanges, where to get supplies, and where to look for professional networking.

A mentor can guide you with curriculum design.  If you've been teaching for some time and already have lessons in place, a mentor can inform you on what concepts students have previously learned  (which saves you from teaching a project the students may already know).

A mentor should inform you of your responsibilities as the art teacher.  Sometimes when you enter a new school, your mentor should be the one to inform you of any additional responsibilities as an art teacher, such as monthly displays for the district or props for school musicals.  

A mentor reduces your feeling of isolation.  With so much to plan and projects to prep, we can easily become isolated in our instructional spaces.  A mentor should be able to talk with you during your challenging times and offer construction advice for when we feel isolated throughout the school year.

A mentor can offer wisdom and learning from past experiences.  As a mentee, you may benefit from listening to the lessons that your mentor has learned along the way through their past experiences…both their successes and failures.   

A mentor can help you with reflecting on your art practice.  Having a mentor helps you to test your ideas and discuss your points of view in a safe and confidential environment, outside of the fears of evaluations. 

Working with a good mentor actually enables you to develop good mentoring behaviors and become a guide for others in the future

To view the complete article, please visit October's Stepping Stones.

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