I would like to say I’m not technically behind on the 30 day blogging challenge from @TeachThought as I have been reflecting on how I could possibly articulate the importance of mentors and the impact inspirational colleagues have had in changing my thinking over the years.
I find myself writing this post, then pondering just to erase and start over. Where do you begin when so many people have helped you grow to be you?
Perhaps I should lead with … I wasn’t planning to go into education. I wanted to be in the glamorous world of fashion and live in New York City. My mom wanted me to go into education. I recall sitting on a deck long ago looking out at the lake as my dad asked me to outline the pros and cons of my dreams and challenges with declaring a major. Never once did he tell me what to do and thus I walked out of undergrad on my own terms with a double degree – a BS in Business (Apparel Marketing) and a BA in Education.
I student taught in the business department at Aurora High School in Nebraska with three amazing individuals and recall at the very end of that experience I couldn’t think of a way to properly thank them. Mr. David Long said, “There is only one way you can pay us back. You must give back to the profession by supporting and helping other new teachers starting out. Listen carefully and give them a chance to fail with your support to pick them up again. Find ways to develop confidence and help teachers shine.” As a result of that conversation and choosing to go into education, I have been lucky to have hosted more than 10 student teachers over the years. Since then, I’ve moved out of the classroom, but continue to be dedicated to promoting the amazing things happening in the classrooms all across the district and finding ways to help make connections and get these educators in front of others.
What makes a good mentor? To me, this is a person who stops what they are doing and truly listens. Trust is of the utmost importance, as I don’t want people in my life always telling me what I want to hear. True mentors are transparent between beliefs and action. They skip the lip-service as they fundamentally understand the damage double talk has on relationships and productivity. The mentors I have had are not afraid to challenge my thinking, and as a result, they help me grow. Mentors stay connected to what you are doing and can anticipate roadblocks. Mentors who make an impact don’t tell you what to do, but they are there to be a voice providing different perspectives to make you slow down and think before you act.
Mentors are a vital part of your team and without them, you are not as strong as you could be. A mentor is a coach, a cheerleader, and a manager all wrapped into one. Who is the most inspirational of all? Hmmm… I can’t identify just one person through the decades. Partially because I believe in so many people and would never risk hurting someone’s feelings or damaging a relationship by not being mentioned in a blog post.
Instead, I think I will start identifying those who make me think by identifying #ff on Twitter each week. Want to learn more? I’m also interested in who or what inspires others to be their best. Participate in your first “Follow Friday” this week and share so that others can follow and learn along as well! I have found social media to be an amazing platform to celebrate those who are willing to support and push others to be their very best!