Our last #saskedchat focused on mentorship and the role it plays for teachers especially in regards to new teachers and internship. The chat was very lively with many of the contributors willing to share ideas and insights about the importance of mentorship for new teachers and interns but also for themselves as veteran teachers.

That was Then

As an administrator, it was sometimes difficult to know who to talk with about certain things and I sometimes would call on someone I considered a mentor to talk and bounce ideas around in order to get feedback and suggestions. I confess that I had few mentors as a young teacher/administrator and relied more on the collegial support of colleagues and peers than any mentor-type individual. At the time, mentorship, especially in education, consisted of the usual “Don’t smile until Christmas” and “It’s you or them so you’d better make sure it’s you!” type of stuff (Really, I heard those two lines as a new teacher!). As a profession, sometimes I wondered at the lack of support for new teachers as many young teachers I started with became the “out in 5” statistic because of the “trial by fire” mentality that young teachers had to endure.

Shifting the Burden

Over the past 10 years I’ve seen a slow shift toward a growing realization that young teachers and interns need mentorship and support. Instead of throwing  them in the deep end to see if they swim, schools and school districts are providing support through mentorship-style pairings within a school to at least provide a young teacher with someone to go to for guidance. Although this is a great improvement, it still can be less than satisfactory especially if the two in the pairing aren’t “compatible”!

Teaching is slowly evolving away from the stoic teacher in isolation – which still harkens back to images centuries ago of teachers in isolation teaching students away from the general populace, of boarding schools and one room schools on the prairies. Finally, there are cracks in these facades as school connect to the world around them and open up, sometimes virtually, to people and places all over the world – yet, there is still a sense of isolation somehow that has not quite been overcome. A separation, almost like schools are still a cycle behind, not quite yet up to speed and teachers, for all some are connected, still have many teachers who work in isolation in their classrooms.

The Chat Archive

There are so many great conversations, ideas, insights and just great exchanges in this chat. It’s well worth the time to go through it!