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Day 6:  Reflective Teacher 30-day Blog Challenge #teachthought

When I read today’s prompt a list of words and actions immediately popped into my mind. A mentor guides, prompts thinking, pushes you to go beyond your comfort zone, keeps the fire burning within you, but mostly importantly, a mentor validates what you are currently doing. I don’t know any student or teacher that tries to do their job incorrectly. As a mentor, if I don’t validate at least something the person is doing, then I certainly am not going to be an effective mentor.

I spent a good portion of today virtually meeting with a group of colleagues all interested in improving our teaching and our students’ learning. The common platform we use with our students is Elireview.com. It allows teachers to structure reviews for our students to complete. The biggest learning curve for me was learning how to write a review that elicits effective student feedback when they respond to their peers’ writing. How is this related to mentoring? Because mentoring is providing effective feedback.

Effective feedback should start with what the person has done and validate it. The work may not have been correct, but work was done. I spend much of my first few weeks helping students see the reward in attempting a task. I explain to them that I cannot decorate their room if they don’t provide me with supplies of some sort. An empty room will stay empty, just as a blank paper will stay blank. If I never give the students credit for attempting to write, then I can never expect them to improve.

After the first few weeks, I never stop validating the work, but I find I can do this with a shorter acknowledgement and spend more time asking about the goal and the next steps. I know I’ve been successful as a teacher and mentor when my students don’t need me anymore. They know how to ask for effective feedback. They come to me already validating their own attempts, thinking about their goals and suggesting possible next steps. I am just another resource for possible next steps.

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