by Julie Dodd
JEA Mentor Committee

Fred Hassan interview in NYTFred Hassan, chairman of Bausch & Lomb, offered good advice for mentors in an interview for the New York Times’s Corner Office.

He was asked how he has been able to mentor employees who have gone on to become CEOs of other companies.

Hassan: “I did a lot of reverse mentoring. So I listened to what they had to tell me, and that helped me be a better mentor.

“I don’t think mentors are at their best if it’s only one way. Mentoring is also most effective when the person who’s being mentored really wants to soak it up. I don’t think it’s an easy ‘push’ system. It’s a much better ‘pull’ system.”

The JEA Mentoring Program, modeled after the New Teacher Center‘s approach, encourages our mentors to do just that.

* Ask the mentees what their concerns and accomplishments are and then listen.

* Talk with them about what they see as their options and strategies for addressing teaching challenges — whether with students, ad revenue, or prior review challenges.

* Provide support, resources and advice in areas where mentees are asking for assistance.

Working to promote a “pull system” instead of a “push” approach can be challenging for any mentor who has arrived at a leadership position and has experience in knowing how to handle situations. Mentors can be eager to tell mentees how to “fix” a teaching situation. But the times and context of the situations can be quite different for the mentor as a teacher and the mentee as a teacher. And beginning teachers aren’t in the same position as veteran advisers in how to address many situations.

Have you had a situation as a mentor when you have thought you had “the answer” for how a situation should be handled but your mentee had a different solution that worked for him/her?