Education Opinion

Aspiring Leaders Need Good Mentors

By Starr Sackstein — August 12, 2018 2 min read
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Guest post by Jodie Pierpoint

Have you ever left a conference knowing that you wanted to go home and make a change? Try something different? Take a risk?

I felt that way after leaving the 2017 National Principals Conference.

As an aspiring school leader, I left that conference knowing that I had to do something for others like myself. I am a strong believer in mentoring relationships and knew that other aspiring leaders would benefit from being paired with experienced schools leaders.

I also know that online relationships are how we connect for personal growth and learning: ed chats, blogs, webinars and personal PLNs, etc.

I simply blogged about my idea and asked for some initial feedback.

  • Would aspiring school leaders want to participate in virtual mentoring relationships?
  • Were there current school leaders that would want to mentor from afar?

The responses were immediate and overwhelming pointed toward “YES, DO THIS”.

Through social media, I reached out and had aspiring school leaders sign up for a mentor through a Google Form. I then sent a separate post/form out for experienced school leaders who were interested in being a mentor for an eager, upcoming future school leader. People were matched according to interests as best possible.

I took my passion for mentoring and combined it with social media and the Aspiring Leaders cohort was created.

Pairs were matched in August and started communicated on their own via their preferred way of communication - Voxer, Google hangouts, email and/or phone conversations. There were over 40 members in the 2017-2018 cohort.

A good mentor is someone who cares about people, can be easily trusted, and who can and is willing to help the protégé develop to his/her fullest potential" (Place & Bailey, 2006).

In October the mentors started hosting live webinars. These were promoted through social media and open to anyone. At the end of the webinar, there would be a Q&A session for live participants to ask the hosts more in-depth personal questions. These webinars (14 in total) were recorded and then uploaded to YouTube and the cohorts website (www.dreambigmentorship.com)

Webinar topics included:

  • Interviewing Tips

  • Resumes and Cover Letters

  • Behind the Scenes of School Leadership

  • Resiliency

  • Best Resources for Leadership

  • Building Your Skill Set Now

  • Work/Life Balance

The results of the initial year were humbling, and the feedback proves that mentoring works:

Mentoring has been a positive experience for me, even though I am very new in my principal position. I enjoy sharing what it's "really like" with someone on the teaching side and hearing about their experiences with their admin. Also, it has been a good sounding board- someone who understands but has no skin in the game in my building. Administration is somewhat lonely on a day to day basis, and building a PLN with ambitious, competent colleagues is priceless!" - Alyse Consiglio, Mentor "I think mentorship is important because it is always good to be connected to people who can inspire, educate, listen, and offer guidance through their own unique experiences. The saying "no man is an island" is so true in the role of leadership, teaching, education--and life. To become better we have to stretch ourselves and having a mentor can help "push" that stretch to become better." - Tamara Bonhotel, Aspiring Leader "An important part of our lives is the legacy that we leave behind. At the end of our life's journey, will be able to say that we left the world a better place? Mentorship plays a key role in answering YES to the previous question. If we truly want to make education great for kids, we need to be a part of the preparation and coaching process for the adults who will impact students. It is imperative that we light the way for others and allow them to learn from our experiences so that we may encourage more prepared, positive role models for our students." - Jennifer Hogan, Mentor "A mentor is a person who has the ability to talk through difficulties, share ideas and motivate a person when they are in need. A mentor must be able to take a person under their wing and guide them through situations that they have previously experienced. While positivity is a must, a mentor must be able to shed light on both the positives and negatives, in order to show a clear view of their passion." - AJ Bianco, Aspiring Leader

As we are headed into year two more is already planned! This year over 62 people joined our cohort! Pairs have been matched and communication has begun. We will continue with our webinar series and this year we are adding a Voxer group for all interested cohort members to connect and share ideas and resources.

The goal of the cohort is to provide support to others in an unbiased, professional manner. All mentoring pairs have no previous connections and aren’t connected professionally (no pairs in common school districts, etc.). Mentors are encouraged to present scenarios to the aspiring leaders and work/talk through them together. Aspiring leaders may ask for support with job applications, resumes, mock interviewing, etc.

Every great achiever is inspired by a great mentor." -Lailah Gifty Akita

Although the 2018-2019 cohort has begun, there are still opportunities for future leaders to participate.

  • The webinars will be available to everyone and will be promoted at least a week in advance. They webinars will then be archived onto the Dream Big Mentorship website for future references.

  • The website has links to many resources to assist in anyone’s leadership journey. New articles and links are added on a consistent basis.

  • The website has listed the cohort members, many of whom are more than willing to support and answer questions as needed!

It’s so true that mentorship is crucial for growth, both as a mentor and as a mentee. Wherever you are in your journey - find and be a mentor!

Jodie Pierpoint is an Aspiring School Leader in Ohio. She started the Aspiring Leaders Cohort in 2017. Find out more about the cohort at www.dreambigmentorship.com and follow Jodie on Twitter at @jodiepierpoint

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.