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Home : 2002 : Oct : 6

    The Mentoring Program
    By If I ran the world ...

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    Although I have only been on the "mentee" side of the mentoring relationship, I think I have seen some trends with the whole mentoring thing as I read posts on these boards. While there are some wonderful mentoring stories, too often problems seem to arise. The main problem seems to be that the mentoring program doesn't do a good job of matching people up. The mentor either doesn't want to do the job, or else really shouldn't be doing it because he/she is way overbooked with other activities. The mentee either refuses all advice or else is overly dependent and expects the mentor to do all the work. Even when both people are in ideal situations and have the right mindsets for mentoring, it seems there is often trouble because each has different expectations for the mentoring relationship. Some mentors are eager to come in and impart all kinds of wisdom on the mentee (because they have the altruistic intention of helping the mentee avoid the mistakes they made as new teachers), while the mentee wants to have a go on his/her own. Sometimes mentors want to back off and have the mentees come to them ocasionally with questions, but the mentees are so timid about everything that they expect much more help than the mentor wants to provide.

    Point is, the mentoring programs should really match people up who have the same expectations for mentoring. I, for example, did not really want somebody to make my copies, give me all my lesson plans, or even help me with discipline. I knew enough other teachers to help me with these issues. What I really wanted was a mentor who could be a good friend that I could go to when I was at my wit's end and just wanted a confidential source to vent to. Instead I got this man who was wonderful and helpful, but not exactly the kind of guy I could see myself going and crying to.

    I honestly think these mentoring programs are a good idea, but they need a lot of work. There should be more qualified mentors (and there aren't because mentors have to go through a lot of training and bureaucratic hassles) so that mentees have a choice of who to go to. There should be suggestions for what mentors should do, so that neither party expects the other to go above and beyond the call of duty. Most of all, these programs should not be so heavily regulated by the state that they require you to fill out a bunch of ridiculous forms every time you go into your mentor's room to borrow a box of pencils.

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