Be the mentor you wish you had!

Nowadays, we hear all around us the word “mentor” “mentee” or “mentorship”. “Professor A. is my mentor! He not only guided me but transformed me into the person I am today.” But who is a mentor? What does he do to make him so important in ones personal and professional development?

The term “mentor” goes back to the Greek mythology, Homerus and Odyssee. Mentor was the name of Odysseus’s loyal servant and friend, to whom he entrusted the care and education of his own child, Telemachus, after he sailed for Troy. In 21st century though, mentoring comes in a variety of forms and relationships, from teaching, advising, coaching to role modeling.

Types of mentoring and mentors

Mentoring comes in all shapes and sizes. On the one hand, there is informal mentoring or learning by observation, while on the other hand, there’s formal or structured mentoring; mentor and mentee have a two-way relationship, from which both gain knowledge and experience. This kind of relationship derives from close and effective communication, dialogue and a mutual interest to help and be helped, to inspire and be inspired.

Mentor could be anyone who have knowledge, practical experience and the will to help, guide and interact with younger, less experienced individuals.

Along with mentoring, types and styles of mentors vary, too.

  1. The wise leader: An executive with years of seniority in a company willing to transfer knowledge and impact young professionals, usually through informal apprenticeships.
  2. The life coach: Is, literally, a professional mentor. A person to hire for consultment towards your desicion in changing carreer path, starting something new or achieve personal goals.
  3. The teacher: An educator. Someone you admire and adress to for advice, in personal or professional level. Those people might be your high school or university professors.
  4. Peer mentors: A peer mentor could be anyone inside a friendship or a professional partnership. It is your collegues, co-workers, your partner, friends, family. Anyone who can advise and support your choices, carreer paths and development experiences.
  5. The self-help mentor: Those are the books, articles, manuals you read, the websites you visit. Though, they cannot be substantial to the real life mentor, you can gain knowledge, wonder and eventually grow your own mindset according to the carreer path you have chosen.
  6. The inner mentor: An inner voice, an intuition. The process of transforming life experiences into personalized leadership principles.
“But, mentor is neither a coach nor a teacher. He is much more! He is the one person who portrays the person you wanna be!”

Being a mentor for new teachers

Last October I had the opportunity to personally experience leadership and mentorship upon a seven member team of young teachers. As I had recently graduated from Aueb’s Teachers Education Program, mentoring the freshmen teachers of the program was a chance to discover new aspects of myself, gain new expreriences and enrich my knowledge on the field of education.

My duties as mentor was to train them on the ways to organize and execute their preliminary teaching. Among others, the new teachers learnt how to plan their lesson, make use of educational technology and teaching aids, find creative methods to present their lesson and capture the interest of their students.

The whole experience was unique and enlightfull! After a week of mentoring I found myself more confident in teaching and training and able to inspire young people to follow their dreams, try new things with an open mind and/or find their way throughout the process.

There were seven different people who looked upon me not only to teach them how to form their lesson plan but also to give them some insight of the whole program and what it means to be an educator today.

Moreover, I cultivated my leadership and communication skills, while taking responsibility of my work and actions. In addition, I discovered an other side of teaching, the one of training young adults and not high school students. It was as exciting and creative as being inside a classroom, but now I had the chance to meet my “students”-mentees personally, talk with them and be open to new ideas and perspectives; their owns. They helped me believe in myself even more and persue my dream more vividely.

And the most important, never quit something by fear of failing, before you find out if you actually can do the job. The Teachers Education Program was my very first step to do something different from the things I knew so far. It was a whole transforming experience. One that changed my whole mindset and helped me find my life’s purpose. Education. The feeling of being the significant one who forms others lives and mindsets. The one who makes an impact!

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