Why Graduate Teachers Need a Supportive Mentor

Photo of Holly (Teach Starter)
Updated | 3 min read

I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest, my hands were sweaty and I felt like I was going to be sick! I was switching from a feeling of excitement… to nauseousness… to thankfulness… to nervousness, all in a five-minute period. I was all over the place!

I was so incredibly thankful that I had received a teaching position, yet that first meeting with my teaching team and getting the keys to my first classroom was one of the most nerve-racking experiences in my teaching career! What am I doing?

Breathe I thought…you’ve got this…

I was lucky enough to be team teaching with one of my practicum teachers, and naturally, she became my teaching mentor!

I didn’t realise it at the time, but she soon became my backbone that year…a shoulder to cry on when it all got a little overwhelming, someone to share my morning coffee with, someone to share ideas with, someone who loves stationary just as I do and a true companionI could rely on!

The teaching profession can be brutal, exhausting and with all the jargon and lingo, your head is often spinning with questions! Then, there is your classroom management, behaviour management, the parents, the mixed abilities in your class!

Who do you go to when it all becomes a bit too much…

Here is a list of the top ten things my teaching mentor did to support me through my first year of teaching. It is not a research article about how to be a good mentor, it is my own personal reflection…

  1. She was supportive. She celebrated successes with me and discussed ways to improve those not so good moments.
  2. She inspired me.To me, she was one of the best class teachers I had seen! She loved what she did, and it showed!
  3. She picked me up when I was down.She could read me like an open book, she knew when I was feeling a little down in the dumps and knew how to pick me up!
  4. She listened. She was always willing to drop what she was doing and simply listen to me! She knew when I just needed to vent!
  5. She showered me with advice when I asked for it!She knew the exact time I was asking for advice and would shower me with her knowledge and experience. She was always willing to share her ideas, resources anything that would help me!
  6. She got to know me as a person.She made the time to ask how my weekend was, or how I was feeling!
  7. She made me feel comfortable.I was comfortable to ask her any question… no question was a silly question and no time was a ‘bad’ time to chat!
  8. She loved stationery, just like me!
  9. She was honest!She told me how it is!You will never feel like you have finished all your jobs! Write a list and come back to it the next day! Don’t try and mark every single piece of work! It just won’t get done! Be realistic with what you can achieve in one day…
  10. She shared her successes and her failures!She taught me that even the most experienced teachers have bad lessons or even bad days! Don’t spend time worrying about it when you could be spending time planning your next best lesson!

What is one thing you learned from your teaching mentor?

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