Growing to be Godly Parents: The Gift of Mentorship
- Tuesday, December 06, 2005
I was robbed! I woke up Monday morning this Fall and discovered someone stole my life. When I went to sleep I was a stay-at-home mom; but a working mother climbed out of my bed the next day. At least I think that’s what happened, but it was so early.
My new schedule as a ninth grade English teacher this year requires that I rise before the sun and report for duty while it’s still trying to get its head above the trees. The first morning I tried not to think about repeating the same predawn routine every single weekday, but there was no denying it. If I wanted to teach, this was going to be my new life. With conviction I put one foot in front of the other – and headed to the coffee pot! An hour later, I was in an auditorium full of professional teachers buzzing with the excitement. I had no idea what to expect from ‘Staff Development’ week. I knew they were serious, however, because they handed me a six-page agenda.
Did I forget to mention at my interview that I’m not really a schedule kind of person? And six pages? Where was the Reader’s Digest version? I wanted the bottom line. Well, the bottom line was that I had a lot to learn. For the next five days I sat through meetings, demonstrations and training sessions.
I wondered if they had me confused with someone else. "There must be some mistake," I wanted to say. "I just signed up for the teaching part." But I couldn’t ask any questions because I didn’t speak their language. Educators speak in code only they understand, made up of acronyms like SIP and SRO and BLAH BLAH BLAH.
One would remark, " I am going to work with my HTSW so they learn all the TEKS they need for the TAKS and the AYP. Stop by the LRC later and we’ll go over to the CATE and look up some IEP details for NCLB."
I wanted to scream, S-T-O-P! Instead I whimpered, "O.K."
Fortunately, the other teachers on the Freshman English team are not fellow edu-idiots. Far from it, our mentor teacher, LeaBeth is vastly experienced and the other two in my department, Lindsey and Aaron, are exceptional. Then there is me. I could see the situation as both a blessing and a problem. Naturally, I identified the problem first.
With a room in a beautiful new building I saw no reason to clutter it up with wall paraphernalia. My colleagues, however, had other ideas. Their rooms were filled with motivational posters, creative bulletin boards, and warm homey touches. I hadn’t counted on competition. Off I went, trying to keep up with these over-achievers. Not only were their rooms inspirational, they were at every meeting on time, mastered the computer training and already had lesson plans completed for the first two weeks.
My response to that was, "Lesson plans?"
That’s when I began to see the benefits of knowing my coworkers. More than over-achievers, they are trained and gifted professionals - who just happen to be across the hall from little old inexperienced me. I think Aaron noticed the opportunity as well when he quipped during computer training, "I better pay attention or who is going to show you how to do all this again later?"
I am so thankful for all of the people in my life who have taken time to personally "show me" how to succeed. This time it is my education coworkers, but many others have also played that role for me. Just about every achievement in my life has been thanks to someone’s willingness to lead me. As a student, as a writer, as a speaker, in every job I‘ve had, as a wife, a Sunday school teacher, a youth worker, and even as a mom, I learned by following the right kind of example. In time, then, it became my responsibility to lead someone else looking for an example. You can call it coaching, mentoring, leading, shepherding, or teaching. Whatever you call it, it requires just two things; someone willing to lead and someone willing to follow.
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