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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The Mentor Diaries

Today, I turned a corner in my own learning of what it means to be a mentor teacher.  This is my first year in such a role.  Prior, I had only had experience as an associate teacher or facilitator.  Both of which were for shorter amounts of time and both of which, I felt, had less at stake for the other person, than for the MDTA teacher I am currently responsible for 'mentoring.'

Like students, I want the best for this teacher.  I want them to feel inspired, to love learning, and above all else, LOVE teaching - as much as I do.  When I thought I wasn't being very successful at this, I began to feel quite down about it.  As I would, if there were a challenge student in my class.  I thought about it constantly, talked about it with my friends, bored my partner to death about it...but it grated me.  How could I get what I wanted from this?  

Like students, adults are all different.  They bring their own backgrounds to the classroom, own experiences, own habits, own baggage...  In a classroom, an experienced teacher is able to understand and notice these things about particular students or groups of students and therefore, adjust their approach to those students to engage them, extend their thinking, motivate them, support them and help them to learn.  Adults are the same.  However, as a mentor, I had not transferred my learning as a teacher of children to my mentoring adults.

I was expecting that the learning would occur as it does for me.  That the best approach to take, was the approach that worked best for me.  Through experiencing for myself and reflective questioning and goal setting.  However, that wasn't working.  Rather than reflect on my own mentoring, I would blame.   Blame the teacher, blame the programme, blame studies, blame family, blame the students, blame the weather.  

So when another colleague of mine tried a more upfront, no fuss approach - and it being received in a truly transforming way, I realised, my approach was not right for this 'student.'  That I have to adjust my approach.  That for some adults, this is a better way to address their learning needs.  Just like it is for students sometimes.

It's someone who teaches for a living, that I was struggling to find how I could help in this situation.  I think I have higher expectations of adults - but really, it's not about kids, adults, teens, elderly...we are all LEARNERS.  

I think I turned a corner today.  We are life long learners who need different approaches.

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