The culture of mentoring has become embedded at Pomaria school. We now have somebody that we can work alongside to guide us. We don’t, we’ve never felt like we’ve been told what we have to do, but now we have more of an idea that we are coming up with and it’s something that we want to focus on. And then it’s always fantastic to have that "go to guy". That person that knows exactly what you’re working on. So, you know how we have, each mentor has their five mentees. You know that it’s very personalised, there’s no judgement. There’s a safe relationship, if something goes wrong that’s totally fine. We go through that and reflect with our mentor and say "hey this didn’t work very well" and instead of solving that problem for us, they come alongside us and say "what other options?" so it’s us that have ownership of the different activities that we’re working through so it’s very powerful for teachers, because we then, we know that it’s OK to fail.
It’s helped me as a teacher and the way that I approach my class as well within my own classroom I don’t feel judged. I mean my mentor is there to help me in that way and because it flows on from me it’s actually gone into my classroom where the children don’t feel judged either. And so we have quite a nice cohesive environment where we are able to take risk, trial new things, adapt our programmes and the children are all aware of it and they are able to do the same in their learning.
My mentor has helped me grow as a teacher tremendously this year. We meet quite often and we share our goals and just the advice and guidance she’s given me and just letting me know that it’s OK that I can change things and try something new and giving me that encouragement.
There are a number of mentors in this school and I guess, I don’t think we all do it the same way. I think some of us are purists, and some people like me are not. But I think the crux of the matter is the relationship with the people that we’re working with. Because that’s what it’s all about, this isn’t coaching as in a functional sense this is relationship building and working alongside other people and being very much a sounding board. And I think for me mentoring wasn’t something I thought I would be doing this year. But when I got it and started reading research and listening to other people, it’s become very much a part of my own professional development. And I think the thing I love most is working with somebody like Scarlett. Takes me back to when I was in exactly that same position and that enthusiasm and that passion and the reasoning why you went into teaching and the things that you do for those young people. It’s all about working alongside on a journey with someone. And it’s Scarlett's reflections that make the change. It’s not my dialogue, it’s Scarlett thinking about what we are doing, coming back with ideas and reflecting again on those ideas. And Scarlett’s a really great deep thinker, so it’s quite challenging for me which is really good. So that’s why I love this mentoring role.
We’re also looking at the way that we’ve partnered up people. Because whether it’s easier for teachers to be able to talk to another colleague that’s also in the classroom or whether it’s easier for more experienced teachers to talk with less experienced teachers, so all those different dynamics. Myself being a deputy principal and Holly being a beginning teacher you know there’s that kind of like, getting past that well ‘Donna’s sort of like, you know the deputy principal I’ve got to be careful what I say’ and also myself as being, I guess more experienced, not to be telling Holly what to do. One of the hardest things I think that all of our mentors have had to do, is to listen, and not just to hear what they’re saying but to really listen to what our teachers are saying, what our mentees are saying.
It’s really hard to put into words because when I go to these sessions I come out so empowered because I come with all these ideas in my head and I get time to sit down and share them and just get them all out and then together we can kind of make sense of them.
It’s made me think more about why I’m a teacher and what I can do differently to become a better teacher and it makes me accountable and it’s, yep, it’s really good and positive.