Monday, September 8, 2014

On Mentors and Inspiration

This post corresponds to days #6 & 7 of the +TeachThought 30-day blogging challenge, focused on reflective teaching through blogging.  Interested in joining the challenge?  It's not too late! 

Mentors are awesome people.

They help, support, and guide you when you need it.  They share connections, ideas, and experiences.  They challenge you to think about things differently than you have before.   They give you space to discover things on your own.  They join you in celebrating successes and reflecting on failures. They believe in what you can do!

Five years ago when I first started at my school, I was a pretty new teacher and had lots of ideas I wanted to try out - many of them involving technology, as I had just taken a Master's course on using technology with English learners.  I was excited to find out that I was issued a staff laptop, and was thrilled that one of my first staff development experiences at my new school was a hands-on session about the value of Twitter for educators.  Through conversation, support, and inspiration from the school's technology integration specialist, +Laurie Toll, I began to explore new uses for technology with my students: blogs, Google Docs, learning management systems, wikis, podcasting, etc... Laurie was an awesome mentor (and still is!) because she listened to my ideas, offered a few of her own, helped me access the tools and resources I needed, and supported me as I put my ideas into practice.  Then, we'd have great discussions about how things went and what the next steps could be.  My passion and excitement for educational technology grew in my three years as an ESL teacher at my school, and I am so appreciative of the guidance and support that Laurie, along with several other teachers, provided me along the way.  I seek to be a mentor and support for others as well, as I know what a difference it can make!

As teachers, it's humbling and inspiring to think about the impact we have on our students.  Interestingly enough, I don't think we often pause to think about the equally inspiring impact we can have on our colleagues!  When I think about the amazing people I work with every day, and the educators I connect with through my PLN, I know I am a better teacher because of the things I've learned (and continue to learn) from them.   

Another blogger, +Tracey Kracht, wrote about a great idea for recognizing people who inspire her and make her think - in her latest blog post, she said that she is going to start using Twitter's #ff or #FridayFollow as a way to identify those who inspire her.  I love the idea and I'm going to do that, too!  This school year, I'm going to use #ff to recognize people who inspire me and help push me forward with their ideas, actions, and impact.   Interested in doing the same?  Join in this Friday - share the Twitter names of a few educators who inspire you, along with the hashtag #ff, and we'll follow, share, and learn together!