This last week, as part of my role as liaison between our elementary school and the local university, I was able to get ten college students, all studying to become teachers, placed in classrooms at our school to log some volunteer hours.
The hours are a requirement of one of their foundational courses, and is designed to expose them to some of the realities and nuances of teaching that theory classes may not give.
There are so many benefits for these pre-service teachers. They gain experience, insight, and connections, all of which can only help them become the educator they hope to become.
But this relationship also benefits the classroom teacher who is hosting these college student volunteers. While it may be some additional work and take some precious time, there are so many benefits to being that mentor.
- It keeps us fresh, as we need to stay current on ever changing trends and research within our field, in order to effectively help our mentee.
- It keeps us humble. There is much we do not know and admitting that to our mentee, and saying, “Let’s find out together” can be refreshing.
- It keeps us curious. Mentees ask great questions and help to remind us that we are all lifelong learners.
- It keeps us enthusiastic. Working with those who are new to the profession can remind us of the newbie we once were. Seeing their enthusiasm can feed our own passion.
Mentors can be formal, in the sense that many professions have organized systems in place to set up and nurture those kinds of relationships. Other mentor/mentee relationships may be very informal, and these kinds of volunteer situations are a perfect example of that. As our school campus welcomes these college students, and I see our teachers take them under their wings, it always makes me so hopeful for the future of education.