Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Pocket Full of Mentors

I’ve given much thought to mentors recently. Often when I hear a presentation, read an article or book, or talk to a leader, they give accolades to their mentor. Usually, they mention that one person in their professional life that has given them the most support and advice; the one person that can accelerate them to the next level.

Recently, I read a blog post from Once Upon a Teacher. She had written about things she was thankful for and shared a video entitled the Last Lecture. Intrigued, I followed the link and discovered a moving and must watch lecture from Randy Pausch, a 47 year old professor at Carnegie Mellon who is stricken with cancer but has the most upbeat outlook on life. In this taped segment, he shares pieces of advice and at one point says to find a feedback loop and cherish it.

The comment got me thinking about how critically important it is to have that in a mentor. For me, the feeback loop has been a critical component of moving my work forward. I listen to the feedback, reflect, and put new suggestions into practice immediately. It also got me thinking, am I a successful part of anyone else's feedback loop? What would the teachers I coach say about my abilities in this area?

Randy mentions his mentor on several occasions which got me thinking about this whole topic. So, I spent awhile reflecting and think perhaps I have been blessed with a unique experience.

You see, I don't have a mentor, or even two. I've been blessed with many. To understand, you'd have to consider my professional phases.

I tend to surround myself with people who know much more than I know and from whom I want to learn. I had a principal who took me under her wing and continues to mentor me in the Leadership realm. I sought colleagues that had a passion for math when I needed to become a better math teacher and presenter. When I was given the opportunity to coach literacy, I latched onto two literacy pros. I’m sure I drive them crazy with my questions and I’m confident many days they think I’m apart of their shadow. When the buzz turned to Web 2.0, blogging, Ustream, and Twitter. I quickly attached, like a leach some might say, to our webmaster who tends to always stay on the cutting edge. I don’t necessary stalk them—ok, maybe they would think I do--- but I do spend as much time as I can around them, I have dialogue with them, I copy what they do (if they twitter, so be it, so will I) and I read what they read. Like a sponge I soak in all they say and take their advice for next steps. These people collectively are my mentors and part of my feedback loop, and I wouldn't be the same without them.

So, I ask, who is in your feedback loop? Do you rely on a mentor? Do you have one or do you have several? And, are you apart of someone else’s feedback loop? What would they say about your input?


dayle said...

I know what the teachers that you coach say about you and they believe that they can come to you for an honest opinion. They know you shoot straight. They know if you don't know the answer, you'll say you don't and you'll go immediately to find the answer... and get right back to them They know that they can depend on you. if you say you'll do something, it's done. They value your opinion. There are very few people - make that none - who can cross between ELA and Math with such ease and such expertise. We value your curiosity, your humor and your "get it done" spirit. We would not be the same without you - dayle

Teach to Learn said...

I can not ever thank you enough for all of the mentoring and friendship you have provided me since I have been at CCE. Even just a few minutes ago, you unselfishly and eagerly spent time with me helping me learn to apply widgets to my blog. Wow, Suz, you are an amazing person and I admire you so! Thank you, Toni

Melanie Holtsman said...

I have had one main mentor who has prodded, encouraged, enticed, taught and really changed my life. She is dayle timmons. (more to come on my blog...) Due to her leadership, I am where I am today at such a fabulous school with so many people I can go to for feedback (dayle can't do everything for me...I try to give her a break).

As a fairly new friend ( a little over a year), YOU are an essential mentor to the me I am becoming. Here's what I love and admire about you: You are knowledgable and confident in everything you set out to do, you are an avid learner, you never give up, you always do what is right instead of what is easy, you are able to craft details while remembering the big picture, you are straightforward and clear speaking, you are brave and you encourage others to take risks right along with you. Love you!