What if we allowed new teachers to choose their own mentors? #WhatIfWeekly

At this time of year, I am used to thinking about welcoming and orienting faculty who are new to the school. While I won’t be doing that this year, I continue to think of such things. Of course, my own newness and orientation is happening right now at Unboundary, so such is fresh on my mind – from the other end of the rope or side of the coin. Oh, how empathy and perspective teach!

If I were to be welcoming new faculty this year, I might just push for a new experiment or pilot. What if new faculty were allowed to choose their own mentors? Philip Cummings offers a fabulous blog post on this front with his “Find Your Yoda.” I haven’t figured out all of the logistics yet (and probably won’t by myself!), but I wonder if one could do something like…

  • Assign a temporary facilitator (or activator) for a small cohort of new faculty. This cohort could experience the beginning days and weeks as a team, and the facilitator could assist with “need to knows.”
  • As the weeks move along, each new faculty could choose his or her own mentor. Perhaps there could even be some social-media fun associated with this as veteran faculty – Yodas – “advertised” their own strengths and weaknesses on some SM resource, either internal or external. From a combination of the advertising and identity work, along with the face-to-face encounters during the first month of school, new faculty could make a pick for mentor…Yoda.
  • With careful cultural shaping, such a system could take on an EdCamp feel, as mentors and mentees agree to partner with someone else if the partnership is not meeting the needs of the mentee.

Maybe it all depends on whether we want to operate from a platform of delivery and assignment OR discovery and authenticity. Such platforms can really shape how we design and implement…how we try and experiment…how we grow and learn. It’s about learning.

What do you think?