September Challenges – 9/06

Two challenges this month.  The Book Photo Challenge by Books & Cupcakes, and the Reflective Teaching Blogging Challenge fromTeachThought. While they’re not related to each other, I thought I’d take care of both at the same time, in one post. Just for fun. You can see all of the photos I’ve taken for the book photo challenge (and other things) in my Photo Gallery.

Book Photo Challenge Day 6: Favorite Series
My favorite series has changed since the last time I took these photos. Last time it was the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. Right now, it’s Shatter Me ( I’m so irked that the neither the library nor Oyster has the third, which means I have to wait. Ugh.

2014-09-07 13.07.11

Reflective Teacher Day 6: Explain what a good mentor does.

I have been lucky enough to have been put in a mentor-like position for a number of years as one of the two chairs of the Language Arts department and the resident reading/literacy specialist. I’ve mentored a number of teachers to varying degrees over the last few years and one of the most powerful tools I have in my toolbox is the ability to listen. Sometimes teachers want their mentor to solve their problems for them, but more often than not, they just need a sounding board – that reassurance to know that they’re not out in left field and what they’re doing isn’t going to irrevocably damage their students. Much of what I do now involves helping new teachers solve their own issues — asking thought-provoking questions, pointing them in the direction of resources they could use, etc. I think it’s also important to celebrate triumphs. As a veteran teacher, I still come home excited about the things that happen in my classroom — so teaching new teachers how to find the high points – the things they and their students did well – is incredibly important.

The new thing that I’ve added to my repertoire is conversation about failure, as it’s something I’ve been interested in for the past year or so. Reminders that everyone feels like their first year sucks, or people who haven’t gone through content-area literacy courses feel like they’re not prepared to teach reading even though they’re responsible for it now. A good mentor reminds us that it’s okay to fail and it’s okay to not know things. However, it isn’t okay to get hung up on these things to the detriment of the students.

Just keep swimming, right?

But really, it all comes back to the listening. It’s more powerful than people realize sometimes.

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