The Secret to Mentoring
Our middle school students are learning about self-direction and self-management, facing challenges head on, and finding success – both inside and outside of the classroom. Distinctive Schools teachers and leaders recognize how mentoring is beneficial for both their students and their practice, “Being a mentor has impacted my practice, it has given me a whole new insight into learning from a student lens.” says Rachael Beucher, Assistant Director of CICS Prairie, “Mentoring has changed the way I hold students accountable in my class.”
Did you know that January is National Mentoring Month? We asked Distinctive leaders to nominate mentors who have made an impact on the teaching and learning in their schools. We’re excited to celebrate the impact of these mentors, and share a few keys for implementing a mentoring program in your classroom.
“You have to build trust and a strong relationship with students before anything else. Most of my beginning sessions don’t focus on academics as I get to know the students better. They need to know that, as their mentor, they can come to you about anything, not just schoolwork,” shared Frank Cademartori, music teacher at CICS Irving Park. Mentoring has allowed students to see a new side to Mr. Cademartori, “It’s totally different from my job as an enrichment teacher, and has allowed me to connect with students in a new and meaningful way. It allows them to see that I am more than the content that I teach.”
Building trust is an important component to mentoring. “It takes time to set a solid foundation of trust. Authenticity, transparency, and consistency in my actions helps students to identify who I am as an educator and mentor,” shared Le’Ka’le Darden, sixth grade science teacher at CICS Bucktown. “Starting the year with questions about who they are, what's important to them, and what support they think they will need allows me to learn more about them as well.”
When asked about her approach to mentoring, Traci McCullough, eighth grade teacher at CICS Bucktown, shared “My strategy is to help my students help themselves. I help them to build on their strengths, so they gain self-confidence to chase the challenge.” Being a mentor has impacted Traci’s classroom and the way she teaches; the relationships built through mentoring time deepens her understanding of student learning. It has changed the way Traci communicates with her students and families, and made it easier to assist students in meaningful goal setting.
If you are considering a mentoring practice for your classroom, we have three keys to help you get started: