Here’s to all those wonderful professionals who take time to mentor someone. There are different types of mentors. Perhaps some of you have been assigned a “mentor teacher” to provide guidance and advice as you work through your first year of teaching. Having a mentor in your school building to turn to for advice and suggestions is wonderful. What a great resource! We hope that you are using your mentor as much as you possibly can—asking questions, borrowing resources, copying effective lessons, talking through situations.
Some of us, however, are lucky enough to have a mentor who looks out for us throughout our career. This type of mentor has our best interests at heart and will tell us when we need to do something differently or will encourage us to look for new challenges. This is the person we call when we are thinking of making a change professionally. Are we hoping to move to a different school? Are we thinking of going back to graduate school? Do we want to look for a different type of position within education? Conversations with a mentor are always honest. They usually involve us having to answer difficult questions about what we want. They often shed new light on a situation and enable us to see a different perspective. Conversations with a mentor are always valuable.
Joyce has been lucky to have Robert (Bob) Abbott as a mentor. If you live in Illinois or have been active in CEC, you probably know or have heard of Bob Abbott. He has made incredible contributions to special education during his long career. He also has taken the time to mentor others.
Whenever Joyce called Mary to say she was considering a career move, one of the questions Mary would ask was, “What does Bob think?” His advice and guidance were always important factors when Joyce was pondering a new job.
Joyce recently asked Bob what advice he would give to new teachers.
“Tips for New Teachers”
From Robert E. Abbott
- Have a Master Plan Book organized with names; important data about each individual student; a daily schedule with resources and location for each activity; suggested supplemental activities and resources for students to use when not engaged in direct instruction/independent activities; specific information about the building, building resources, building policies and procedures; sample forms used daily for attendance, etc.
- Have an individual folder for each student with vital educational information; copies of specific documents such as IEP, 504, etc.; and something personal about each that can be utilized for communication, rapport, or behavior management.
- Be prepared to meet each student at the door with first name, greeting, and hand shake on the first few days of school.
- Make the room environment inviting at the start of the school year – i.e.: music in background, interesting displays, plants, pets (fish), etc.
- Create areas of interest and centers for learning in the classroom, concisely labeled with a list of tips for utilizing the area/center. Make these attractive and engaging.
- Have an extra credit activity center with folders organized by activity or topic.
- Create a NewsBrief with a short biological summary about yourself including your interests, tips for being a successful student, a list of “expectations” for the classroom, tips for parents, etc.
- Have a folder on each student’s desk with interesting activity sheets/instructions that they can read while getting acquainted with the classroom and with you. These could be educational puzzles, games, riddles, etc.
- Have the room arranged for management with a list of behavior management tips and your expectations displayed.
- Give each student a personal envelope with a welcome note and something you know about them. Include only positive statements.
We hope you benefit from these tips from Bob and that you are lucky enough to have a mentor to assist you during your professional career.
Joyce Meyer and Mary Cohen