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A Mentor Isn’t Limited to the Beginning of a Teaching Career

Imagine finding the perfect mentor at the perfect time. Imagine what it would be like to have access to multiple mentors at any time. 

My First Three Mentors
I remember my first three years of teaching.  I was assigned a mentor each year, but the educator assigned to me changed each year as a result of budget cuts and layoffs. I had to work in three different districts to stay employed. Each of my first three years brought a different experience with a mentor. In my first year as a teacher, my official mentor hardly interacted with me. Fortunately, I had a few other teachers who helped me out that year.  In my second year, I had a better experience. My mentor invited me out to lunch a few times and took me around the district to show me the resources available, and talked me through a few different ways to assign work and handle a classroom. In my third year, I had a few meetings with my mentor, which was helpful. She continued to be approachable and friendly. I believed that a mentor fell under a “one size fits all” mindset within my first three years of teaching.  Whoever was assigned to me would be able to answer any questions, stimulate my hunger for growth, check in with me regarding progress I was making, and help solve any problems contributing to my stress and uncertainty as an educator. 

Mentors are Necessary for More Than the First Three Years

I used to think that mentors were for beginning teachers. And, year four, I would be settled, have grown and no longer need a mentor. However, over the years, I became more invested in personal growth. My essential question became, “How can I find a mentor who will meet me where I am, align with my goals and be available as often as possible?” 

Everyday Insight from the Most Successful People

What if you could have access to the most impressive minds not only from history at any time of the day? Biographies and memoirs are packed with a person’s highlights and show how he or she grew over time. Biographies offer readers the benefit of understanding different ways of doing things, an effective perspective that has been effective, and a look at a journey that has been productive. The best part about having access to some of history and modern day’s most amazing innovators is that they don’t have to know you exist. Fortunately, innovative and growth mindset focused people are always searching for ways to connect with others. Fortunately, I have been able to have brief conversations with several of my mentors.  As needs, goals, and jobs change, it is nice to know that a mentor or a mentor’s resources can provide what I need. 

How I Found Perfect Mentors
Confession: Sometimes, the mentors I select do not know me very well.  But, I would argue that they are the perfect combination of people to help me accomplish my goals. I listen to a collection of about 12 people regularly on podcasts and live videos. I also read their books, blog, and social media posts. There are various ways to learn about education, human behavior and find ways to become inspired. It is easy to search for specific topics and quickly navigate a resource that will direct me to more ways to learn about an area of interest. Sometimes that is a podcast, a book, or a person to begin following on social media. 

Here are a few of my favorite educators (Mentors) to learn from:

The Modern Classroom Podcast:

*There is always a useful topic. New episodes come out each Sunday.  I also get a lot out of their Twitter and Facebook posts.  

Authors to Follow on Twitter: I have noticed that great authors produce great content before, during, and after their book hits the market.  Many authors who hope to inspire other educators work hard to make contributions regularly. 

A Few Authors, Bloggers, or Content Providers who Have Recently Inspired Me

* Dave Burgess @burgessdave, Author of Teach Like a Pirate

*Jimmy Casas @casas_jimmy, Author of Culturize and a few other books

*Jonathan Alsheimer @mr_Alsheimer, Author of Next Level Teaching

*Allyson Apsey @AllysonApsey, Author of The Path to Serendipity

*Jennifer Hogan @Jennifer_Hogan,

*Alexi Pappas @AlexiPappas, Author of Bravey

*Dr. Lori Ellio @drlorielliott, Author of Project-Based Learning Anywhere

*Tara Martin @TaraMartinEDU, Author of BE REAL

*Km Bearden @kimbearden, Author of Talk to Me and Fight Song

*Sarah Johnson @SarahSajohnson, Author of Lead with Faith and Balance Like a Pirate

*Todd Nesloney @TechNinjaTodd, Author of Sparks in the Dark, When Kids Lead

The Best Version of Me
The content and wisdom that these individuals share is continuously available. I have also realized that my mentors will change as I change. I will grow and adapt and therefore require different mentors over the years. As we change, it is nice to know that our mentor (s) can change right along with us.

A Mentor Gives
When I am frustrated, I consult my mentor’s resources. Each of these people has an extensive amount of content available for free. Personal and professional coaches can be an excellent addition to your set of skills, but can come at a cost. Sometimes they are very worthwhile and make a significant difference. But, other times new insight, solutions and fire can be ignited by consulting material that exists. The mentors mentioned above are constantly looking to give of themselves.They are not only interested in education, but committed to making the world better for educators and students.

It is Easier than you Think.
It is easier than you think to curate a list of mentors. I keep a schedule of when they come out with podcasts and new content becomes available by signing up for their emails, or following regular content posted online.  

Start Where you are
Theodore Roosevelt’s quote, “Do what you can where you are with what you have.” If you don’t know who to follow in order to find a mentor, start with someone on my list. Finding the right mentor at the right time is not always easy, but will be worth the time spent.  Having a mentor or a coach is one of the best things you can do for your career.  The possibilities are limitless and only a few searches a way. With the right guidance and inspiration anything is possible. 

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