A mentor is an experienced adviser and supporter, a trusted counselor or guide, a skilled practicing professional who takes another person under their tutelage in a field of practice.
To become experienced in any field and gain insight into the nuances of specific methods of practice it is essential to learn from the people who came before us, the experienced professional. Learning from professional practitioners facilitates our journey of blending academic knowledge with practical knowledge through intentional practice.
In our work as early childhood educator’s mentors are valuable. Early childhood education is comprised of different pathways of practice that utilize multiple philosophies and methods. Having a mentor in our chosen philosophy of practice helps us connect to the nuisances of the work and the application of our work with children.
Starting our careers as new educators, our work habits develop by shadowing and learning from experienced teachers. A wonderful part of our field is working in teams and having experienced educators available to advise us how to apply the knowledge of our field into tangible applications.
Teaching is a lifelong process of challenges and discovery. Having other teachers to collaborate with and learn from makes the journey of understanding our practice more insightful and enjoyable.
In my career three influential mentors have shaped my work with children and in life. Each mentor possessed a strong philosophy of practice, shared openly, and empowered me to work toward and become a professional in our field. The lessons acquired from my mentors still guide my actions to this day.
Mentors throughout my career have not only helped with my day to day practice, but they were the catalyst that inspired embracing new philosophies of practice and ways to think about the children in our care. Starting out with a traditional mindset about children and education over the years I learned from my mentors to embrace new ideas and methods of practice that have made my career working with children a fascinating and enjoyable journey.
Our knowledge base at the beginning of our career helps us intellectually understand the classroom journey, but our work is an improvisation, a journey into the unknown. Connecting to the children and the learning community begins with having others help us understand where theory and practice come together, by someone who has taken the journey before us, a mentor.
Who was your mentor as you started your journey in early childhood education?
What valuable lessons did you learn from a mentor that you use to this day?