Personal Journey from friend to foe - Mentoring

  

As I feel myself growing apathy for the relationship with my mentee, I am researching how to be a better mentor. Most of the articles and books out there are about new or resident teachers. If only that were the case, I would not be here now.

I have been assigned a friend of 5 plus years who is also a first year early childhood teacher, but a seasoned employee in the district. The mentor/mentee problem has reduced our friendship to a paranoid professional relationship with barely any friendship away from school.

At first, I would get questions and offer advice and reminders. It slowly became resentment, paranoia, and anger. Parents call in. The assistant is slowly falling apart. The Coworkers are tired of it. The poor kids get most of it. What to tackle? I tried tackling each situation as it came, but even after redirections and peer counseling, the problems grow. It is too much to even know where one ends and another begins.

One kiddo cries every morning. The parent wants the teacher to quit yelling and not to use snack as a punishment. There have been several principal talks with this parent. As a mentor and when it began, I tried listening to all sides. I had to intervene once to keep the child in that class. I talked to the teacher about kind words and touches with the parent, making the parent feel needed and appreciated. Some days are not enough, it had to be consistent, so it failed.

Even coworkers talk to the teacher about soft intonation and positive behavior strategies.

The principal called the teacher in to discuss point of view and get that side of it. I do not have information on where that went, but now the teacher is questioning everyone on who told.

One kiddo was slapped on the hand. One was play swatted with a hand. One had hair pulled to get attention. Those were brought to my attention today. I cringe at that conversation. I would have had that conversation today, but the teacher was absent. I want the teacher's side, but I also believe there has to be some truth to it. That said, I have to call in someone to help me talk to the teacher.

The decision to expose a problem is a crucial one. I do not want to hurt anyone. I have to protect kids. I do not want to label the teacher by involving supervisors, but I need the point to be clear and effective. I do not want to threaten the teacher. It is too late for warnings from me. Unfortunately, I think this will be the last blow to our friendship. I wish I could just talk to the teacher and work it out.

On a better note, the ladies I work with who are resident and first year teachers, we have great relationships. The work relationship we have gives plenty of room to improve our abilities as teachers and as a mentor. I love working with new teachers. I especially like the challenge of working with people in different areas than myself. When the standards changed that was a new avenue to discuss old items. New adoptions  are a huge impact on time, but worth it to help the mentees out and for me to broaden how I work.

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