by Julie Dodd
JEA Mentoring Committee co-chair
Business writer Eva Del Rio’s recent column provides a good way to guide a start-of-the-year conversation with your mentees.
Del Rio, who offers advice to business professionals, recommends making three lists as a strategy for having a more productive work life in 2013. You can encourage each mentee to develop the three lists and then talk with you about those lists. You, too, can develop these lists for each mentee and refer to your lists during the conversation with the mentee.
Step #1 – List five aspects of your work life that please you.
I like that Del Rio starts with the positive. Too often in jobs — and this can be especially true for new teachers — we focus on the problems and disappointments. That can be a negative way to start what should be a positive conversation.
Those positives can range from getting a new camera for the staff to helping the editor develop better management skills to taking the staff to a fall journalism workshop to having a supportive principal.
Step #2 – List five aspects of your work life that make you unhappy.
Del Rio says to keep this list to no more than five. The adviser may be unhappy with the staff overall because she inherited them from the previous adviser who resigned. The adviser may be frustrated in having so few computers for the staff to work with or having four different course preparations in addition to advising the yearbook.
Step #3 – Develop an action blueprint.
Del Rio reminds us that some aspects of our work — good and bad — are beyond our control. She says to mark those off the lists. Then look at the remaining items and decide what actions can be taken to continue the positives and improve the negatives. This becomes the blueprint for the new year.
Here’s where you, as the mentor, can play an important role in helping your mentee determine what that blueprint can be. For example, if a disappointing aspect of the job for the adviser is having the staff miss deadlines, you can help the adviser set up a schedule and reward/penalty system that will promote the staff meeting deadlines. That’s something that could be improved immediately.
You also can help your mentee see what items could be on a long-term blueprint. At the midway point in the school year, the adviser probably can’t change who is on the newspaper staff now but can start working on recruitment of next year’s staff.
As you and your mentee talk through the three lists, you’ll see that this process is similar to the Collaborative Assessment Log that helps structure conversations with mentees — but this blueprint process is the bigger-picture approach.
Most of us know that many New Year resolutions fizzle out before the end of January. You can help your mentee’s blueprint be successful by coaching him/her to not set too many goals or goals that are too broad in scope.