Friday, May 6, 2011

Help Wanted Ad

Due to numerous events in my career, I have never been lucky enough to have a real mentor.
 Trust me this is not because I have not worked with great educators.  In fact, I truly believe that all three Social Studies departments have been the strongest units of their respective schools.  At Pequannock, I worked with some amazing thinkers. John Graf, Russ Irving was the life blood and conscious of our school.  Politics and the expectations placed on me at that school it made it damned near impossible to have a mentor. I did share and steal ideas at times but had no mentor.
The most dynamic planner and thinker, I have ever met was Steve Schels. Today, Steve works at Sparta high and we now live 2 hour apart.   Mr. Schels was a great colleague but had no desire to be my mentor!
I moved to Cinnaminson and again worked in strong department with tremendous staff.  Rob Becker inspired me and we shared ideas.   Being married, a little older and a proud fool, yest again, I worked at another school and found no mentor.
For the last 4 years, I have worked at a third school and have yet to find a mentor.  At 38, I feel like it may be a little late to pick up a mentor.  I am blessed to work with great people in my department.  Additionally, I have learned and been inspired by a great educator and true colleague @andreamystrena,
One thought I have is this no mentor issue may be related to the hiring process.  All three places I worked desired “finished” products. After spending two hours talking about how “finished” I was to get the job – I have never felt super comfortable going back on that and asking for help.
As a coach, I read about the “coaching” trees of all these great coaches.  Tom Izzo and Bill Walsh have these amazing coaching trees with former assistants running teams all over the country.  Yet, I find myself feeling alone professionally at times and feeling like I could use a guidance counselor!
So here is the Job description:

Needed a mentor.  Candidate must be wise, sage like.  Candidates should posses the Wisdom of Mr. Miyagi.  If chosen for this position candidate should demonstrate the motivational skill of Mickey Goldmill (Rocky).  Ideal candidate would have the warmth of Paula Dean but the wit of Alton Brown.

Here are a few of the things I need to ask my new mentor:
1)        How do they do it?  I see these amazing teachers on twitter with amazing blogs, even better lessons and perfect family lives.  How do these people juggle all of that? (These thoughts have led to the recent idea of creating an #sschat blog) with multiple perspectives as many of us find that balancing act hard)
2)      What is next for my career?  Should I stay in the classroom? Should I pursue an Administration degree?  What about an IT/Media Center Specialist certificate?
3)      How do I balance all the voices and find my own? Grades good or bad? Late work? Teaching accountability and having a no zero policy?  Skills versus content? 
4)      What really matters? What do my students truly need to be successful?


Ms. Mystrena said...

First, thank you for your extremely kind compliments! The first question you posed at the bottom of your post is one I wrestle with all of the time. I barely have enough time to read and "favorite" my PLN's tweets, let alone write my own. How do they do it? I'm okay with still being kind of a silent observer, but would like to get even more active in the future. I feel so lucky to have found those amazing teachers on twitter.

Questions 3 and 4 are also things I think about every single day. I admire you so much for the risks that you take in the classroom and for your courage to sometimes have policies with which everyone doesn't always agree (like late work). In that sense, I've learned so much from you and think I came out of my shell as a teacher a little bit more after working with you every day last year. I always try to keep in mind the big picture skills and lessons that my students will remember years from now. Too often we get caught up in the minutia and the bigger, more important things are lost.

Anyone who walks past your classroom can hear you making a difference in your students' lives. Even if you do decide to move on to an administration, IT/Media Center job, I know that you will continue to have a huge impact on your students.

Paul Bogush said...

"All three places I worked desired “finished” products..."

That is a really interesting observation. Wonder how the interview would be different, how schools would be different if we assumed all teachers are works in progress.