A friend of mine recently wrote a blog regarding mentorship. Who she looked up to and what she took away from them and how those learning’s / experiences changed and molded her into the educator she is today.
Over the past nine years of being a full time educator I have been very blessed to have multiple people I would call mentors! Maybe this could / would be a future blog during this upcoming March Break. What you will reflect upon after reading this blog is your legacy, as I have since partaking in my ‘first real mentorship-type job’ within the Board.
We had a short introduction / ice breaker session to get to know mentor / mentee a little more in depth; then we broke away into mentor and mentee sessions. Within the mentor session we got to review / reflect and think about our experience as a first year educator; our thoughts, feelings at the beginning of the original contract and throughout the year. Wow, it seems like so long ago but was ONLY 9 years!
During that first year I had one go-to guy that supported me in so many areas in life as an educator and outside of the educator roll as well. He was someone that ‘made’ my first year successful in an extremely difficult classroom! He was a mentor through and through and to this day I continue returning time and time again to him when I need that supportive nudge in the right direction or someone I can talk to about anything; even his dreadful Leafs!
I never really thought of it at the time but upon reflecting within that mentor breakout session I came to fully see how much impact and important he was (and still is) for me! Now, one thing that was shared within that breakout session was this thought; ‘What do you want your LEGACY to be’?
Wow; my original thought was LEGACY?!?! Holy smokes I just want to ensure I do have a successful honorable career…but after pondering and exploring this concept of legacy for a few more days I see it in a new light. I would like my personal legacy to be something more and something similar to what I got from my first mentor in school….a leader / role model / someone to confide and trust / someone to reach out to for support / someone whom can push one beyond their reach and explore endless possibilities and push one to become remarkable….what I WANT to be known for OR within this blog; my LEGACY is to be known as a Mentor similar to what Dennis was and still is for me!
After reading a blog entitled ‘Mentorship Part I’ by Norma; I strongly considered what my students would take away each year from being with me! My thoughts / hopes would be that I cared what was inside each individual; I build such strong rapports with my students and families that they become extended family for me. I invest so much time and effort into each of my students yearly that they ARE part of my family, and my family is everything to me! I would hope my legacy shows that you need to have fun and laugh throughout the day; that building and maintaining cohesive relationships is key to problem solving all the small things that occur in life. I want to be known for challenging and pushing each person to reach the best of their abilities and full potential and be a stable figure in which to turn to for answer to the tough questions!
Last year I watch a Hagersville Elementary School Legacy retire and walk away from a very successful career (Hats off to Len Georgi) and was thoroughly touched as I watched the tears stream from so may people; colleagues, former and past students, family and friends. I seen a remarkable man become an icon that day! I seen what I could only hope and wish would occur when I walk away from my career many, many moons from now…..respect and a mentor whom was firm but you always knew where you stood with him!
Legacy is such a strong word! But alongside my legacy I want one word; mentor!
During my 3rd year of teaching I was approached by my administrator and he suggested I take on Co-op students, which then lead to a conversation not long afterwards about obtaining a teaching student. I didn’t think I had much to give to anyone at that time, I think it was more another body to support me within my difficult classroom, but I like seeing the glass always half full instead of empty so I would hope that he actually did see that I could / would be valuable for someone to work under.
Long story short, fast forward six years ahead to now; I have seen eight high school co-op students (two of which proceeded into a career into teaching and currently on Occasional List / another one this past semester realize an unforeseen gift of teaching within her as well and is planning on perusing post secondary education and become a teacher as well). Three college Early Childhood Education students (giving back to my Fanshawe Diploma and my personal mentors during those college placement days) two of these fantastic people are now on our DECE Occasional List within the Board as well. Six Teaching Students (from year one to five) and another since January of 2017; two of which are working as Occassional Teachers within our Board and three in Hamilton-Wentworth. Three Indispire First Nations Teaching Students Online; one of which is now working full time in Alaska! My latest; notch to add to this ‘Mentoring Role’ is my NTIP mentee; whom I foresee being snagged in the near future on a full time gig!
I have also worked along side some amazing gals within our kindergarten classrooms; all of which I considered my team at the time and forever in the future as well! I would like to think I challenged them all to think outside the box and become stronger and better versions of themselves!
The reason I started was Dennis; the reason why I have continued is because I learn and stay fresh from them! They challenge me to think and reflect on my practice and challenge me to see the gifts within each of them and pull it out for them to see! They challenge me to get the most out of them in various means and ways! Each of these wonderful people are entirely different people from each other, they made me go beyond my own bounds and think way outside my box to flip things around and make them become better, stronger educators and people! I would hope that they would all say if one and only thing they walked away is was a strong desire and means to reflect upon themselves, their lessons, students and whom they were and currently are becoming!
I have thought very hard about MY legacy; and yes I do love having fun and yes I joke around all the time and laugh and thoroughly enjoy each student (young or older) that have ever walked through my classroom doors, but the one thing I continue coming back to is that I want to be known as a mentor / role model! I want to be known as that guy whom did the coolest things inside the classroom and out but shared those things so anyone could use and do them with their students as well!
So, Norma…the challenge was accepted and I hope that one day, people would say that yes he was a mentor to me!
And; yes to continue Norma’s challenge ‘Be a mentor’ for others, make a difference for someone else!
I am continuously blown away when I see former people whom I worked with soar and become something amazing like Krista (now taking on her first student herself – way to go Krista) and Nick (making a thoroughly strong name for himself on the OT List in GEDSB) and another future prodigy in Presley (taking her tech understanding outside the classroom and expanding student experiences with skype and differentiating for vast personalities currently within my classroom) and her fantastic partner in the Hagersville Stem Club; Joe!
Mentoring is amazing! You learn so much about yourself and others along the way! But; I will be honest my favourite part is releasing them into the wild and watching them all excel! That is why I continue doing what Dennis suggested I try!
So, in closing consider what others would think of you! What is your legacy you will leave behind you as Len did last year?!? What will people say when you walk away from a career in education?
I know I am far from being done and far from reaching my goal; continue to reflect, challenge and test yourself people! Be a mentor and help others reach their goals and dreams – its an unreal feeling watching hopes and dreams transpire!