Top 10 Qualities Of Effective Teachers: #8: Sharing Information and Mentoring Others
Our teachers at Shady Oak are committed to effectiveness. Parents—the first and most consistent teachers their children know—can cultivate like qualities in themselves.
Mediocre teachers jealously guard their knowledge from “rivals.” Star teachers see every colleague as an essential part of the team, and are happy to share helpful information with their teammates.
It may come as a surprise, but children are more complicated than adults. Kids haven’t yet internalized firm ideas of the way things “should” be done, or where the boundary lies between fantasy and reality. The supposed “blank slate” of young minds isn’t really a tablet for adults to write on as we please: it’s more like a self-programming computer, as likely to generate new apps as download them. You can feed the kids information, but you can’t tell them how to process it.
Don’t count on being able to share information effectively with children if you can’t or won’t share it with your fellow adults.
We’re All in This Together
And don’t expect to nurture effective teamwork between two kids—or a classroom of them—if you’re unwilling to work as a team with your peers.
Some people live life by the “take advantage at every turn” principle. They won’t help anyone else professionally because they’re afraid of hurting their own chances. Withdrawing into self-interest, they may or may not “succeed”—but either way, they pay a price of chronic loneliness and dissatisfaction.
Hopefully, you’d rather be a team player helping propel the organization forward. One of the best ways to do this is to freely share information with your colleagues:
- The title of a helpful book you’ve read (or, just give away your own copy when you’re done)
- Links to helpful articles
- Mention of jobs and opportunities someone would be just right for
- Hints on how to function best within your team’s “system”
Mentoring Less Experienced Team Members
Once you get really good at sharing information, you can expand on the last idea and become a mentor to an up-and-coming team member. Arrange to talk one-on-one, every week or so, about their goals and concerns.
To be an effective mentor:
- Start with mutual understanding of what the other person hopes to accomplish, both through the mentorship and as a member of the larger team.
- Get to know your “mentoree” as an individual— their personal interests, strengths, and weaknesses as well as their professional goals.
- Listen more than you talk. Let them make their own decisions rather than handing down advice at every turn.
- Be open about your own imperfections and struggles, especially from the days you were where your mentoree is now.
- Understand that most mentoring relationships have an end as well as a beginning. The time will probably come when your mentoree doesn’t need you any more: when that happens, instead of being hurt, congratulate them and start looking for your next mentoree.
And even if you become the most experienced mentor on your team, never be too proud to accept information and mentoring from others. Freely take as well as give—and blessings will be reaped all around.