I have been having a similar conversation across several digital mediums with many levels of teachers for about the past week. The conversation (sometimes started by myself) is the process by which we choose Cooperating and Mentor Teachers. When I say choose it is a bit of a euphemism. I am finding more and more that the process is not always well thought out.
While I have heard some discouraging things, I have also heard some amazing ideas as well. One of my favorite ideas came out of the #principalcast voxer group. I could not find who posted despite trying to back through quite a few pages of posts. But, the idea was that each teacher take a mentor not only in the building, but one outside the building as well. This not only gave them options for finding additional mentors that may fit their needs better, but also it encourages them to get connected at an early point in their career.
As I talk to some newer teachers, they have talked about how important twitter was to making it through their first year or two. They have discussed how valuable that resource has been for them and how it allowed them to thrive despite having a poor relationship with their mentor.
Developing teacher relationships with new teachers is incredibly important. How we start, develop, and nurture those relationships can determine not only the success of kids in a new teacher’s class, but he new teacher’s career (or in other words: many classes full of kids!) We need to start really thinking about how we place student teachers, and how we select mentor teachers for the newest to our profession.