by Nick Ferentinos
JEA Mentoring Committee

This article from the New York Times Business Section on June 6 is worth reading. The connection between what it says about mentoring in the business world applies directly to the mentoring we do in education.

The key point it makes is that good mentors are listeners. Our tendency in mentoring sometimes is to give answers, to tell a teacher how to perform a particular task, or to try to “fix” a problem for the teacher.

By listening carefully, we can learn vital information about a teacher’s practice, make thoughtful assessments, and then bring to bear specific mentoring skills to help the teacher become autonomous and not dependent on us to provide all the answers.

I also like the distinction the article makes between mentoring and coaching, terms that are often used synonymously in our work. In the words of the writer, mentoring is “more holistic in that it develops the whole individual….”

That’s really our goal in mentoring: Not to enable a teacher but to help them develop in fundamentally important ways so that we can step aside and be sure the teacher will thrive.