The caption either has you scratching your head and questioning my sanity or it has you ready to embark on the journey of mentorship and why this picture depicts what intentional mentorship should look like. Let’s face it, we have all been the young lady on the bike at some point in our career. Whether you are new to teaching or entering your stage of bowing out gracefully (by way of retirement hopefully) we have all experienced having a support team to encourage us along the way.
Mark and Brittany
“Come on. I know you got one more in you, let’s go!” was he crazy? Mark was one of my fill-in trainers when my trainer was unable to attend my session. He was the yeller. The in-your-face, I’m here to push you beyond your limit yeller. Although I thought the yelling was him trying to look the part, I appreciated the drive and the motivation that he showed during my session. “Give it to me!” he high fived me once I finished my barbell lounge squats.
“I’m proud of you girl! You have come a long way since you first walked into the door. What day and time would you like to schedule for next week? Brittany has an open schedule so far.”
“Same days and time as this week will be fine. I’m going to put in about twenty minutes on the elliptical and I’m out of here.” I said, even though I wanted to take my wobbling legs to my car and head home.
I had to get my time in. I wasn’t the only person depending on me to reach my goal. Brittany was just as invested in my goal as I. The last thing I wanted to do was let us both down. Brittany was not only a trainer but she was a middle school teacher too. She never yelled at me. She was actually very soft spoken and handled me in a precious way. She made sure every workout was stimulating but that I was also comfortable with the task at hand. She was a true teacher at heart. You got it? Fix your form. Here like this, let me show you. Girl you’re getting better. You held that plank for a full minute, it’s time to increase the time.
She was a little more subtle than what I would have originally preferred in a coach but her planned circuits yielded the same results as Mark. Their coaching and deliveries were just different.
“Sure thing. Make sure you don’t overdo it. You’re scheduled for a weigh in next week as well so keep up the good work!”
I had never been to a gym in my thirty years of living outside of middle and high school of course. I have always been very active and made a conscious decision to keep the weight off without a gym membership. The birth of my daughter is what had finally gotten me there. Truth is, I definitely wasn’t there to lose weight so that I could be bikini ready because let’s face it, you will never catch me in such on anybody’s beach or beside anybody’s pool regardless of shape or size. I was there to feel energized again. I wanted to be able to walk up my stairs at home and not get tired after climbing the sixth stair. My goal was to be healthy and energized.
Since I had never been to a gym, I decided to go with having a personal trainer because they were where I wanted to be and they had the knowledge that I needed to get to where I wanted to go. It also made me feel comfortable to know that I had a “partner” in my corner cheering me on and holding me accountable every step of the way. Every time I left the gym after a session, I felt accomplished. Don’t get me wrong, every day wasn’t a walk in the park. They tested my strength, agility, mental capacity, and so forth. With each session I managed to work up enough effort to get the job done.
“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” Is a quote contributed by an Indian non-fiction author Rashmi Bansal and later recognized by Steve Jobs in a graduation speech he delivered. Let’s take a closer look at it.
Dear student teacher. Dear year one teacher. Dear year two teacher. Please….whatever you do, DO IT HUNGRY! (Now if you’re going to have an attitude with it, you might need to grab a Snicker first though.)
Exactly what did Steve Jobs and Rashmi Bansal mean by such words? Stay hungry?
Bind yourself to wanting to know more.
- Don’t become complacent with being an okay teacher.
- Don’t allow the circumstances in which you teach to define your input and output as a teacher.
- Most importantly, don’t allow the mediocrity of those around you to infiltrate your passion and drive to want to be the best and give the best.
Realities of teaching are overhwelming. The demands of documentation and delivery are unbelieveable. The talks of differentiating for students in preparation of a test that neither provides differentiation nor accomodations for any students other than those that have been “identified” is mind boggling still to the most qualified and skilled veteran in our league. How do students make it to a grade level without meeting the proper qualifications to land in a seat that demands so much from their so little?
With such realities, it is easy to lose your hunger. It’s even easier to walk away. With such realities it is important that we recognize our mentors and trainers for who they are and for what we need of them and what they expect of us. Who is your Mark? Your Brittany? Who is your get in your face yeller? Who is your whisperer? Your motivator? Your go to? Your closet that holds your devout ventilations of frustrations?
Like my personal trainers, my mentors throughout my careers have been TRUSTED and experienced individuals. They are people that have been and currently are where I desire to be. They have been sharp shooters that are quick to hear me out and slow to respond. When their response comes through, it’s with wisdom that seeps through the very crevices from which their heart functions. There are some days when they don’t respond at all. Which is great! Some days I just need someone to hear me. Not side with me. Not side with them. Just hear me!
There are also days when I need them to get in my face and just be honest. Your problem is that you take everything personal. Honey it’s education and you won’t get along with your teammates most days. You’ll have issues with parents that you’ve never seen nor been able to contact since day one until you get the right (but very wrong in their sight) note home. And truth is…your students are children and like adults, they LIE. Heartbreaking, I know. But these are our truths and there’s a lot more from whence those came.
One thing that has been most important to me when choosing my mentors outside of my assigned academic coach and such: they must be someone that is neutral and mature at all costs. You don’t want your “TRUTH IS” sessions to be the talk to the teacher’s lounge. One thing I have learned and was advised of before signing my contract is that, “Educators are the closest people that you’ll get to the real housewives.” Not all of us are petty. NOT even but there are some days when the banners hang high and the attitudes are very present. Professionals or not, the reality is we all have problems and we are all human and as such we must learn how to respect each other in the state in which we are in and move on to the next line of business….EDUCATING!
The purpose of your mentor is to do exactly what the above graphic displays. They should be the one that encourages you to keep the fire burning. They won’t have all of the answers, of course, and don’t expect them to. They will point you in the right direction most days, unless you catch them on a day when they too are spent. This won’t be often but they are human. Their advice is normally from where they’ve been and where they are heading. They are someone that roots for the success of your overall being, not just your career. They are the motivation that you seek when you feel like giving up.
They are one of the key players that you want to share your accomplishments with. They are your voice of reasoning and clarity when it’s needed most. They keep your goals before you. They want to help you become a better teacher and individual. They enjoy seeing you blossom, even though you probably, at MOST times, get on their nerves!
No not literally, please not literally. Each and everyone one of us has had our mentor tell us to do this without saying it to this extent. When I first saw this latter half of the quote I was like, “Nah Steve, not today!” Then my Christian roots reminded me of 1 Corinthians 1:27 and the first half of that scripture says that “God will take the foolish to confound the wise.”
Everything we say may not make sense and could be deemed as foolish in the sight of others, but it could also be the very solution that is needed to solve the problem.
So yes, stay foolish.
- Always be willing to try and do the very things that people around you say can’t be done.
- Be willing to challenge that which you don’t believe in with your actions more than by projecting your voice. Actions will always speak louder than your verbal art form.
- Stay foolish enough to collect the knowledge and data to contribute a strong foundation for your beliefs.
- Become the research behind the research.
What I have learned is that staying open and foolish will place you in a position of credibility. Staying foolish built my character as a year one teacher. Staying foolish caused me to grab hold of this not so new concept of personalized learning and be a copresenter at one of best conferences in the nation, the Personalized Learning Summit. I represented my district as a first year teacher in a major way for not only their representation but for the representation of my hard work and foolishness. Every tear that I shed as a first year teacher made my representation as a copresenter at that conference worth it. Staying foolish is building my wisdom and self worth as an educator.
My foolishness and hunger causes me to lend an ear to my mentors just as they have done for me. Only when I lend my ear to them, they always release and impart an integral part of my future into the atmosphere.
One of my most respected mentor’s favorite sayings is, “Take my hand and be my friend.” Find you a mentor whose spirit says such. Sometimes they might have to be “opinionated” and pierce you to the very core but every reality check that is given is to push you into greatness.
Don’t settle for being a teacher. Be THE teacher. Bring GRIT to the table. Have a suggested solution for the problems that are posed. Don’t be afraid to walk to the beat of your own drum while remembering to respect those around you. It is true, RESPECT goes a long way. Be sure to tell your mentors thank you and not just with your words and gifts.
You are an educator not because anyone forced you into it. I’m sure it was your passion that lit the way. Build your brand. Represent your brand. It will take you places quicker than you could imagine and without hesitation.
- You were made for this!
- There’s more fight in you than what you have convinced yourself to believe.
- You are a phenomenal teacher that does great things.
- Sometimes people would rather give you a hard time than commend you of your hard work and excellence. It’s okay. Let the hostility build your strength and agility mentally.
- You are a fundamental part of the puzzle.
We are educators! We laugh together. We cry together. We SUCCEED together!
See you in the next post? Same time right?