There was a big article in our local paper last month about how new teachers entering the profession are not getting the help and support that they need. It went on to talk about how new teachers coming right out of college often lack the practical knowledge that comes from working in the classroom versus what a college professor theorizes. They need a mentor in their school on their grade level to help them get acclimated to the job,  someone who will be their advocate and support system regardless of their age. If they are new to a school system from another state, fresh out of college, or perhaps re-entering the profession after staying home for awhile, all could benefit from some form of a mentor. I remember one year when a new fourth grade teacher was assigned to be mentored by the art teacher. Now there's a good match!

        Some systems take mentoring to the extreme and make new teachers sit through endless boring sessions or tapes on what to do or not to do. While some of that information is useful, overloading them while they are in a state of disequilibrium and trying to get used to the profession can be overwhelming. In addition, mentor teachers are often required to sit through these meetings as well, year after year. For their efforts, they are paid a stipend that might cover a meal at a fast food restaurant once everything has been taken out of the check. This is to compensate them for the hours spent going to mentor/mentee meetings every week for a semester.

          I prefer to serve as a mentor to someone on my grade level or perhaps one grade level above. That way I can share lesson plans, newsletters, classroom management strategies, units, and materials with them.  I have been told that this practical hands on advice is a lot more helpful. Rather than have the new teacher sit through a series of videotapes each week, I feel that he or she would benefit more from practical knowledge and assistance. An example of why follows.

           One year I had a first year teacher I was mentoring come to me in tears. A parent was giving her a really hard time and had demanded a conference. Just like a dog smelling fear, I hate to say it but some parents can sense a newbie's fear and exploit it. I offered to sit in with her during the conference and I am glad I did. 

           The parent came in absolutely furious. She started out with language that would make a sailor blush. After about ten minutes of this, I asked her "What exactly is it you want?" This made her pause for a minute and then she went on with her tirade. I again asked " But what is it you want? If you want to talk about how often your son is getting in trouble, is cursing at us going to get what you want? If you want us to hear you, it would help if you would calm down and discuss this rationally. I understand that you are upset and we want to hear you. But if you continue to use this kind of language, we are going to conclude and wait for you to come back when we can talk like adults." 

           I didn't know if she was going to curse some more or throw something at me, but believe it or not, she calmed down. She talked about her frustrations at her son always getting in trouble. It was obvious that she needed time to get some things off her chest and that her frustrations were a result of her anger with her son as well as some long simmering complaints with the school system in general. She was a single parent struggling to support her family by working two jobs. Together, the teacher and I came up with an action plan to help her at school and at home. We also put her in touch with some needed  outside resources that would help her. By the end of the conference, she hugged the young teacher and thanked her for listening. The rest of the year went much better and ended on a good note for all concerned. New teachers need someone to intervene if necessary with parents, administrators, or other teachers.

Whenever I have mentored a new teacher, here are a few things that I try to impart to them as we work together:

1)  Ignore labels such as limited or slow. Look at each child that enters your classroom with a clean slate; one who is capable of unlimited potential.

2) Believe in your students.  Rather than assuming that a child can't, give him or her the benefit of the doubt and assume that they can.

3)  Create a loving, accepting environment where each child can flourish.

4) Make learning fun.

5) Greet each child when they come in every morning with a hug or a smile. Tell them you are excited to see them.

6) Leave a bad mood outside your classroom door. (Believe it or not, I actually  try to visualize a box right outside my classroom door. I imagine dropping my bad mood in there until school is out.) Young children pick up on it if you don't.

7) To reach a young child's mind, you have to capture his heart. No matter how well you know your subject matter or how carefully you have planned your lessons....the real key to unlocking a child's potential is letting him know you believe in him and will always be there for him. My students call me their "School Mama". I tell them that there is no way I could ever take their Mom's place, but while they are at school, I want to take care of them and make them feel safe.

8) School systems often jump on a new "bandwagon", discarding a recently introduced program that teachers have just finally managed to figure out how to use. Don't be too quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak. Hang on to strategies and techniques that you know were good for children.

9) Keep a journal of your school year. Write down questions and concerns to discuss with the teacher who is mentoring you. Weekly meetings are a must.

10) Have an open door policy. Parents who are allowed to come in and volunteer get to see first hand what happens in your classroom. That automatically cuts down on a lot of questions and concerns.

If you are new to the profession, what do you need to help you be more successful in the classroom!

When I was in my twenties and thirties, I used to sit in church with tears rolling down my cheeks every Mother's Day when the minister would recognize all of the Moms in the congregation and instruct the ushers to pass out pink carnations. For seventeen years, I had hoped and prayed for a baby. My husband and I had given up hope after three miscarriages when we learned that I was pregnant with our precious daughter. For the past twenty-one years, I have watched her blossom into a beautiful young woman who I love with all my heart.

Since tomorrow is Mother's Day, I wanted to write a post honoring all of the Moms and Grand-moms out there in blogland I have come to know in the three short months I have been blogging:

Moms who spend time with their children like ~J, Tree, Terra, Dana, Brenda Susan, Kelly, Jen, Traychelle, Rosie P, Karin Katherine, Robyn, Oka, Soup Baby, and Purseblogger .......

Moms like The Empress, Phyllis at All Things Beautiful, Midwest Mama, Michelle, Melissa, Kathy, and Over Yonder who take the time teach their children at home.........

Moms like Adrienne, Lauri, Velvet Over Steel and Debbie from single/complicated who make sacrifices as single Moms to do their best for their children.....

Moms like T.J., Crystal, Messy Mommy, Heather,  Debbie who is becoming her, Teresa, Marla, Dolly, Michelle, Z and C's Mom, Bossy Betty, Arizona Mamma and Magee Mommy who laugh with their children.....

Teacher Moms like Bits N Pieces, Theresa M, Mrs. C, and Lipstick Life who are teachers in public or private schools.

Moms who put in "face time" like Turning Back the Clock, Anne, He Me + Three, Leslie, Elizabeth, and Frugal Vickie ......... 

Moms like me with one daughter like Aging Mommy, Stacy, Tammy, Tracie, and Jocelyn ........

 Moms who blog about their children like Shell with her little Monkey, Bear and Cub, Karen Blados with her punk and punkette, Sarah Lynn, Amy with her two girls, JDaniel's MomHelga, Angie,  and DebbieDoos and her boys.

Moms who never age like Java...sigh

Last but not least, the GrandMoms out there like some of my favorite bloggers: Jenny Matlock, Ms. Anthropy, Andrea, Bernie and Teresa at Too Many Heartbeats.

When I read your blogs, I delight in them so much because they bring back memories for me of time spent with my own precious daughter. Happy Mother's Day to all you card carrying Moms! You've earned it.



I don't know if you are a Mom or not, but Happy Mother's Day anyway!

He got blud, bones, a hart and made a Mom.



Why Did God Make Mothers?

Why Did Your Dad Marry Your Mom?

When Mother Teresa received her Nobel Prize, she was asked, "What can we do to promote world peace?" She replied, "Go home and love your family." 

I hope you all enjoy time with your family today!   Blessings