Reflections from a mentee
By Judianne Jayme
Since I officially began teaching, I have been offered opportunities to mentor others. I, myself, was a mentee. The mentor I chose happened to be the previous teacher of my classroom before me. She helped me set the pace for, discover, and apply my educational pedagogy. I’m learning now that mentorship is not about the amount of years spent teaching; mentorship is, in fact, about building positive and supportive relationships with colleagues. It’s paying your knowledge and experiences forward and helping other educators find their footing in the field.
Like any field, the journey to becoming a mentor myself required receiving mentorship from another individual. As a mentee, I received advice that, at the time, seemed profound. My agenda is organized chaos. It is a delicate balance between deadlines, opportunities, and functions. It didn’t always used to be this way. There was a time when my agenda was strictly academic – all school-related goals and school-centred events.
My mentor’s first comment to me was to remember that teaching “is just your job.” Pardon me? I had undergone an honours degree in Arts and a two-year after-degree Education program to find out that this is just my job?
She was right. She was a woman who raised two sons and had an active life outside of school. And she spoke the absolute truth. In retrospect, I laugh at what must have been the look on my face as I let that idea sink in. All that work, all that planning to achieve my goals, only to realize that it is not something that defines me. It is not the only thing that should occupy my mind and time. It is a fraction of my life, and does not hold as much weight as others.
That was it.
This simple piece of advice changed the framework in which I viewed my entire career that I pulled through all those years of university for.
It is this same advice that I give to those I mentor. This career is important, but it is not the only important thing in your life.
Find your balance
Like any career, it is crucial for new teachers to master that delicate balance. Not doing so risks an early burning out of young talent. A wise individual once said, “you can’t do a good job if your job is all you do.” Take time for yourself. Exercise. Meditate. Read a book out of your own interests, at your own pace. Sing. Dance. Go out for dinner. Do not abandon or neglect parts of yourself for just your career. You are worth more than you think!
Parent tip: juggling act
The same concept of balance applies to students. We take for granted how much they are required to think and work at school. Make sure you take time out to encourage your child to pursue interests. This could take the form of playing an instrument, joining a sports team, pursuing the arts. Whatever their interests are, remember that a learner is well rounded. They flourish best when they’re not just learning in the academic sense. Let them go, and let them grow!
Judianne Jayme is a third year educator teaching sixth grade in the Winnipeg School Division.