Sep 19, 2013

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Become the Best Mentor Ever with These 3 Tips

AOE Mentoring

As schools recognize the need to support their new teachers, many of us veterans are serving as mentors. Sometimes mentors are formally appointed to the newbies, other times we naturally just take those wide-eyed, overwhelmed teachers under our wings. Whatever your situation, it is critical that you keep these three mentoring strategies in your back pocket…

1. Model, model, model: Modeling best practices is just as powerful for new teachers as it is for your students. Take advantage of any opportunity you can create for the new teacher to come in, see your classroom and watch your studio teaching habits. It is one thing to tell them how you run things, but it is a whole other thing to show them. Don’t be afraid to approach your administration with a proposal to make this happen, even if it means finding coverage or a sub for the new teacher’s classes.

2. Help develop problem-solving skills: You want your mentee to grow into a teacher with the kind of assertive attitude that helps him or her find creative solutions to the problems that all teachers eventually come across. That won’t happen if you solve problem issues for him or her. Guide your new teacher to solve problems on his or her own through productive conversation and solution-based proposals. Talking to administration can be intimidating to new teachers. Help develop talking points and solutions centered around student needs.

3. Pass it on!: Every time I work with new or student teachers, I give them the gift of every piece of material I’ve created. Giving them a treasure trove of lesson plans, art club contracts, and field trip notes allows them to spend time where it is most important during those first few years: developing a management style. With a library of art teaching resources crafted by an expert teacher at their fingertips, they no longer need to spend countless hours reinventing the wheel.

By giving your mentee these simple but high-impact gems, you will make a difference in the life and career of a new teacher.



What was the best piece of advice or guidance your cooperating teacher or mentor gave you?

What other advice do you have for mentors? 




Sarah-DThis article was written by AOE Team member Sarah Dougherty.  Sarah is the Visual Arts Curriculum Coordinator and Arts Integration Specialist for the largest school district in Iowa, prior to which she served as an elementary and HS art teacher for 7 years.

About Sarah | Sarah’s Articles

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  • Lisa

    I had two mentors which was great for me! Divided their required work load and I was able to always ask two people for help and advice when needed!
    Being a mentor is a great way to “clean up” supply closets! As a new teacher, you’re not sure what materials you’re going to need. My mentors went through their supply closets and asked me to go through stuff they pulled out that they don’t use anymore! It was great!
    One piece of advice for all mentors: always help with the kiln/clay process the first year! This is such a daunting thing for (most) new teachers. Give ANY advice you can think of that will help the new teacher. If they have never loaded a kiln before, go over to their school when they are ready to load it the first time and physically help. No new teacher wants to end up with a disastrous first clay experience!

    • Sarah

      I always have questions about ceramics from new teachers, so true, Lisa!