When I think about my time teaching, the most beneficial thing I got out of a difficult experience would be the friends I made. Getting to know teachers as peers, not as a student, is such a privilege.
Today, I want to talk about my mentor, Ann Wilson. She was my Induction mentor during my second year, and that was a really strange year for me because I came out of a horrible experience, and I didn’t have a classroom. I was working with many different teachers and to be honest, felt lost. It was hard to know what my role was and everything was super unclear. She did so many things that helped me, even if it did not make the particular situation better:
- She made me feel seen and heard. This, in turn, was how I wanted to make students and people in general feel.
- She gave to-the-point and meaningful presentations and it was Google Slides #goals. Teachers go to a lot of professional development, and a lot of it is not very applicable to your own classroom. However, Ann always made a point to involve participants and it didn’t feel like being talked at for an hour.
- She stressed the importance of revising in teaching and in everything else. She openly talked about how it takes a few years to master a grade level, and it wasn’t until your third, fourth, or even fifth year that you really know what you are doing. Mistakes are to be expected, but not fatal, and “you’re not going to go from here to there in one day.”
- When I was having a hard time working with some of the teachers, she told me that other people can do what they do, but you have to make sure your side of the street is clean. That was really incredible because it was so frank. Anyone else might’ve told me to just hold my tongue and deal with it, or even that the other party is right and I’m at fault. However, Ann acknowledged that sometimes other people ARE wrong, and even if they bully you, you don’t become like them. She encouraged me to do the right thing even if there is no immediate payoff.
- I loved the way she talked about running her classroom. I think I would have really liked to be a student in her classroom! She treats her 3rd graders like little people, and did not baby them which is something I have always struggled with doing. She gave students responsibilities, but she did have hard times too with certain students. I love how she talked about helping students grow as readers and writers, and all the math strategies she helped me come up with. Teaching is a craft and just like any craft it takes practice and a ton of research and finding what works for you. This is an approach I’d like to take no matter what job I have.
In short, Ann encouraged me to revise often and write well. She also gave me a really good approach to living life, not only as a teacher but as a person.