The Teacher as a Mentor and a change-agent in the lives of youth
The concept of the Teacher-Mentor is nothing new. Teachers have been taking on Teacher-Mentoring and pastoral roles for as long as one can remember, though it’s only in recent years that the spirit of mentoring qualities have been promoted within communities. As the world of technology impacts greater and greater numbers of young people, there are increasing signs that these same technological wizards are also seeking positive and meaningful relationships with adults who will walk the talk. It is not difficult for empathetic teachers to fill the gap in many of these young lives with very little effort, though plenty of education skills.
Global research suggests that when students connect to their school there is a far greater possibility they will reach their undoubted potential. They are likely to develop high self-esteem when they feel safe and secure, have a positive self-image, a sense of purpose and skills of competence.
Research also points to the positive impact a significant adult, including parents/caregivers, teachers, coaches, faith leaders, relatives, friends, youth workers etc. have had on the lives of numerous adolescents.
Time has been spent reflecting on how effective youth mentoring programs are in encouraging students to reach their potential and develop relationship building skills. Three points are worth mentioning: firstly, mentoring does not suit every adolescent; secondly, mentoring will never be equipped to address the needs of all youth and, thirdly, mentors are unlikely to resolve adolescent issues working in isolation – a support group needs to be built around every adolescent.
Students attend school on approximately 190 days of a year. Thus it stands to reason that their teachers are probably the people who can most powerfully and positively impact their lives, in addition to families and friends. Teacher-Mentors sow the mentoring seeds during their interactions with their students, thus having the ability to positively impact communities in positive ways, creating more stable and secure environments for our children. This process could be further enhanced when the mentoring baton is passed down from Teacher-Mentors to Peer Mentors, Peer Support leaders and other students placed in positions to positively impact the lives of younger students.
These pages aim to be a source of encouragement to the committed and dedicated teacher, who is passionate about working with young people and wants to encourage them to reach their potential. The spirit of the Teacher-Mentor should be present in every classroom, on every sports field, and in every school related activity throughout the world. To encourage teachers to appreciate how they can take on a mentoring role in their daily interactions with their students, I have written a user-friendly book, The Mentoring Spirit of the Teacher – Inspiration, support and guidance for aspiring and practising teacher-mentors.
TEACHER-MENTORS AS CHANGE-AGENTS
The positive impact of Teacher-Mentors, possessing a mentoring spirit, on transforming school communities might be seen in the following ways:
- Creation of a more caring community
- More motivated students
- Fewer discipline problems
- More affirming of teachers (by one another and by school management)
- Better relations with families
- More teacher support in a variety of areas
- Fewer students falling through the cracks
- A drop in truancy, substance abuse, sexual activities and youth suicide
- The development of better communication skills amongst school communities e.g. more encouragement, more positive attitudes, empathy, no put downs, no swearing
- Families, teachers, students working together to support one another, thus enabling the students to reach for their potential.
Also have a look at the Mentor pages, including the articles on Vertical Tutoring, on this website for more ideas, as basic principles of mentoring apply to the Teacher-Mentor as well.