23 Things – 11/23 Mentoring


Image: ‘Climb-along-a-Flickr’

Navigating the Career Path is easier when you have a helping hand to guide the way.

And I’ve been lucky enough to have had a number of great mentors during my career – each one having played an important part in helping me to get to where I am today.

One thing I found interesting about mentoring is the variety of mentoring models available.  The following article highlights the five main models on page 11:

Effective Mentoring:   doi: 10.1177/0340035209105672  IFLA Journal June 2009 vol. 35 no. 2171-182
http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.150.5840&rep=rep1&type=pdf

(The table on page 9 is also an interesting summary of the relationship between mentoring and career stage!)

These models are:

  • Formal/Informal (traditional mentoring)
  • Peer
  • Group
  • Self-Managed
  • Via professional Associations

In my past life as a trainee teacher, I was assigned a number of formal mentors to help me through both my PGCE and Induction year.  While for the most part, my mentors were helpful and supportive, their time was often limited by their other responsibilities so I found alternative or additional ‘peer’ mentors in my more experienced colleagues, whose support and advice was readily available and invaluable.

In my current life as a trainee librarian, I’ve been lucky enough to again have access to great ‘peer’ mentors but also have a positive formal mentor who sets aside specific time for 1-1 ‘mentoring’ sessions each week.  The combination of both works really well and I’ve felt completely supported in every aspect of my new career.

In the past I’ve also had an awful mentor, who made me feel pretty useless and almost made me give up entirely – so I know how important having a good mentor can be!  That’s why when I was later put into the role of mentor for other trainee teachers and teaching assistants I wanted to do a good job.  The difficult part was – no one had told me how to be a good mentor, I just had to figure it out for myself – happily my mentees seemed happy enough 🙂 But becoming a good mentor is definitely something to work on for the future!

What have I learned makes a good mentor so far?

  • Someone who volunteers for the job and really wants to help
  • Someone who takes a genuine interest in developing another person’s professional needs
  • Someone who actively listens and is willing to guide, not dominate decisions and projects
  • Someone with experience who is willing and able to share what they have learned

Mentees also have an important role to play – they need to be enthusiastic, reflective,  proactive, willing to learn, open to new ways of thinking and willing to bring their own ideas and skills to the table.

So far my mentors have mostly been chosen for me, so the idea of choosing my own mentor in the future for Chartership is quite an interesting prospect!

On a final note…I really love that the word mentor comes from the Odyssey #classicsgeek 🙂

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