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Mentoring in the 21st Century

Retired educators, like you, often are unable to get out and about to the communications-technologydegree you did when working full time, but that’s no reason to pass up the opportunity to share experiences that can support those new to the profession.  You can use some of the same communication tools you now use to keep up with former colleagues and students, and with your children, grandchildren and other extended family.

I’ve had the privilege of working with early career teachers across the nation as part of two different NCTE initiatives.  The first was the Early Career Educators of Color Award.  NCTE selected ten young people to meet during the Affiliate Leadership Institute for two and half days. During that weekend, NCTE Executive Committee members and three mentor-facilitators helped the new teachers to refine and then prepare to implement a project designed enhance their teaching and improve learning for students at their  school sites or communities.  The EC board has since modified the program, reducing the number of award winners to six, but now have them attend two consecutive NCTE conventions.  Three teachers from this original cohort have  served as mentors for  subsequent cohorts working with award winners  from all over the country. For example,  Last year, my two award winners were from Alabama and Texas.  This year, one from Illinois; the other from Louisiana; other mentors and award winners are in Florida, Kentucky and Connecticut.

CEL_logo_120pxThe Conference on English Leadership established a similar program in 2010 called the Emerging Leaders Fellowship to support educators who may be in their first three years of a new leadership position.  I’ve served as a mentor for three of these cohorts.  When the paired fellows live nearby, we can visit their classrooms or meet them for lunch. That often is not the case.  What is crucial to the success of this model of mentoring  is the on-going communication we can maintain across long-distances using twenty-first century technology such as Twitter chats, Google Hang-outs and  along with simple emails and phone calls and texting.

We ELF mentors meet our fellows at the conference the award cohort is announced, coach them through a full school year, and encourage them to present in a session at the next conference.  Most ELF fellows do just that.

Nina Johnson is an Emerging Leader Fellowship winner from 2013 whom I mentored.  She lives On Line Sharingin North Carolina.  I live in Michigan.  We maintained regular communication primarily by email for the year of her official fellowship 2013-2014.  However, as often happens when a mutually satisfying relationship is established, our unofficial fellowship did not end.  The next year, an all girls’ school in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates offered Nina a teaching position.  She contacted me
about this opportunity to live and work abroad for a year or so asking my opinion and advice.  After consulting with others in her family and professional circles, Nina accepted the job and moved across the globe, just south of the Tropic of Cancer, very near to the Persian Gulf.

Nina’s major move did not abort our communication.  In fact, the move increased it.  Like early career teachers  who sometimes feel isolated in their own buildings, in new communities, and definitely in new countries where one seldom hears ones heart language or regularly sees people who look familiar or dress in familiar attire, Nina had some difficult days.   This also is the case for scores of Asian Man Thinkingearly career educators who graduate determined to succeed wherever they are assigned.  Too often, however, these precious novice teachers become despondent, not because they are not intellectually prepared to teach, but because of personal or emotional challenges in their new environment.  That’s when we veteran educators can help.  We can be there as advisers, empathetic and sympathetic , encouraging them to stay the course knowing we, who care about them personally and professionally, have their back.  We will be there to listen and advise non-judgmentally.

Nina Johnson could not attend the CEL conference this year, but using twenty-first century technology, she taped a video on her cell phone and sent it to me attached to a Facebook message.  I was able to share her message at our conference. Here is Nina Johnson from Abu Dhabi, describing value of the mentor/mentoring relationship we share.

I encourage you to step out and offer your services to other early career teachers and leaders who would benefit from your experience, too.

In this, the twenty-first century, Nina and I still talk regularly, continent to continent, using on-line communication tools beyond email, and traditional telephone.  We sometimes “talk” in real time right on line…at no additional out of pocket expense to either of us.

Two Computers - AnimatedI now invite you retired NCTE educators to volunteer to serve as a mentor either directly with early career educators you already know about or through our Emeritus Assembly of NCTE project.  Please take a few moments to complete the questionnaire we’ve designed to gather information and create a data base from which new teachers can select the veteran educators whose experience seems to fit the need of the early career teachers.

Barn Owl on Tree LimbOur Early Career Educators need us.  We need them not only to help us stay connected  and feel useful, but also to do our parts to improve the education system that will be educating our grandchildren and those of our family and friends!



Why New Teachers Need Mentors and More

Please see this link for Why New Teachers Need Mentors and then read below our report from NCTE 2016.

Dear NCTE Emeritus Assembly Members of NCTE,

What a delight it is to report the warm, enthusiastic reception we received at NCTE 2015 in Minneapolis, MN!  We had a table in the lobby rather than the exhibit hall, but were placed right next to the one of the Conference on English Leadership, as had been the case for EA of NCTE at numerous conventions in the past.  There we handed out post-cards describing our current initiatives and affixed ribbons to the names badges of those willing to advertise in that way.

We had six other venues to tell our story:

  1. Friday morning – EA of NCTE members served as host and hostesses at the First Timers Breakfast.
  2. Saturday morning, Pauline Walker took our offer to serve as on-line mentors to the New Teachers round table session coordinated by Alan Brown of Wake Forest University and the Conference on English Education.
  3. Saturday afternoon we presented a panel/round table session “What Makes Healthy Teachers? Mentoring and More” and over 50 participants joined the conversations at six tables.  Our speakers/table leaders spanned the range of experience from 10-45 years in the profession!
  4. Saturday evening, during the Special Interest Groups session, we presented our resolution and draft up-dated constitution. (We’ve attached copies of both.)
  5. Sunday-Tuesday, I told our story at the Conference on English Leadership.
  6. We posted photos taken at our table on Facebook and Twitter

Everywhere we went veterans offered to mentor and early career educators welcomed the opportunity to receive our support.  We’ve got to refine a way to connect the groups.

Plans for the future:

  • Have constitution ratified.
  • Offer a slate of officers for election by email by September 2016. (Please volunteer to serve as an officers of EA of NCTE or nominate, with their approval, friends you’d like to see lead this assembly in the future.)
  • Submit a proposal for NCTE 2016 for a session in which we share our story, insight, and our willingness to support those recently entering this profession as early career educators
  • Offer to serve as hosts/hostesses at the NCTE 2016 First Timers’ Breakfast in Atlanta. (We’ll need volunteers.)
  • Have a table or booth in a public space at the NCTE 2016 convention in Atlanta.  We’ll need volunteers to staff it,
  •  Advocate to have our resolution approved by the NCTE Executive Committee
  •  Increase EA of NCTE membership and participation in whatever seems right to each member.
  •  Expand our website to include short bios of volunteer mentors.
  • Spread the news of our offer to be on-line mentors for early career educators.

Please help in whatever ways you can,

Anna J. Small Roseboro, Acting Chair
Robin B. Luby, Treasurer

Emeritus Assembly of NCTE