Connecting our Hearts with Mentoring Webs

Inside our Hearts

Inside all of our students who come to school each day are their hearts, and inside every heart of every student are their hopes, dreams, and wishes for their lives and learning.

We know creating a safe place for the hearts of our students, is a critical precondition for learning but in order to do this I think it is essential that the hearts of the educators supporting our students are also safe, and secure, and supported.

I see this as a reciprocal process. In other words, our students can become part of our mentoring web and we can become part of theirs.

Looking in the Mirror

Mentoring is an act of learning. One of the most powerful things a mentor can do is help their colleague hold up a mirror to their practice and in this mirror see all their strengths and attributes, not just the flaws and challenges of what isn’t working.

Through this de-privatization of practice, the quiet victories and moments of beauty that teaching provides can be surfaced, elevated and celebrated. This is authentic “inside out”, learner driven collaborative professionalism.

As mentors one of our biggest challenges is to hold up this same mirror to ourselves and not just see our own flaws.

Simply put as a profession we are incredibly hard on ourselves. Our day ends and we don't celebrate our 19 “quiet victories”, we reflect upon the one (or two or three!) things that went wrong.

In other words, we fail the “best edu-friend” test. If our colleague came to us with their challenges, concerns and worries we’d be so accepting and understanding but somehow it’s difficult to give this same level of acceptance to ourselves. We’re reluctant to acknowledge celebrate and elevate our own strengths and attributes.

Webs of Support

Our learning from the New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP) is helpful here. Through our longitudinal research we found that high growth new teachers access 5 – 7 different mentor supports (i.e. they built a “mentoring web”). The more strands in each of our webs, the stronger and more resilient the webs are.

With these supportive webs, our hearts as educators are warmed and our well-being is supported. Our warm hearts create a space for continued personal and professional learning and growth for every educator and ultimately every student.

Web of Support via Multiple Models of Mentorship