A good mentor is, like the screenshot above says, an "adviser, guide, guru, counselor, consultant, confidant(e)." I especially like the "guru" and "confidant(e)" synonyms. While it is definitely true that mentors of all professions are there to guide their "mentees" by helping them with the ins and outs of their jobs, an educational mentor needs to be the one someone feels comfortable enough with and around to ask the "stupid" questions (which are not stupid at all, but the first-time or new-to-building teacher feels are stupid because he or she is, after all, a professional teacher and should know the answers):
- "How can I go to the restroom between classes if I'm supposed to be watching the kids in the classroom and the hallway?"
- "What do I do if I have to go to the restroom during class?"
- "What is my copy machine password?"
- "How do I get this blankety-blank copy machine to work?"
- "Where is the toner cartridge overflow pan?"
- "The copy machine screen says there's a paper in there somewhere, but I can't find it; am I crazy?"
- "Why is the copy machine printing out a bunch of gobbledygook pages when I was just sending one thing to the printer?"
- "One of my students drew an anatomically correct body part on his desk; how can I clean that off before next hour?"
- "How do I call the parents when my phone doesn't call off campus?"
- "I don't have any staples; where are the classroom teaching supplies?"
- "How can you tell the difference between the tornado drill sound and the fire drill sound?"
- "The computer is not working; how do I print off my worksheets?"
- "How do I sign up for the computer lab online if my own computer is not working?"
- "How do I send an email about my broken computer to the tech office if I can't access email?"
These questions (and many more, I assure you) are questions I asked my mentors, and some are those my "mentees" have asked me. A good mentor answers those questions or helps you find the answers. A good mentor helps you find that jammed piece of paper, the extra staples, and cleaning supplies. A good mentor lets you use his/her own computer to email the tech office about your broken computer. A good mentor gives up his/her own chance to go to the restroom to watch your class. He or she also provides the necessary listening ear, comforting shoulder (usually metaphorically), extra tissue, and perfect story of his/her own that helps you when you're feeling overwhelmed.