Friday, October 07, 2005

Mentoring in Public Schools

Today I spent some time with a 3rd grade boy I have come to love over the last two years. Before the last school year began, I signed up to take training to become a mentor in our local school system. As a recently-retired public school teacher, I had visions of working one-on-one (an opportunity seldom afforded the regular classroom teacher) with some little student who really wanted to be more successful in school. I thought I would probably work with a Spanish-speaking child to help him/her become more fluent in English usage, since I have a good understanding of both English and Spanish. Or perhaps, I thought, I would see the light dawn in some sweet face as the promise of being a good reader was realized. I visualized quiet times reading together, enjoying lunch at school together, and having pleasant conversations that would positively impact the child's understanding of human relationships and his/her decision making. I thought this was going to be an opportunity to really make a difference in a child's life. It hasn't worked out that way!

My mentee, Ralphie (not his real name on the off chance someone who knows him reads this), definitely needs to gain a better understanding and appreciation of human realtionships, and he desperately needs to learn to make more advantageous choices; but our sessions have been disappointing to say the least. They have not been satisfying for me or helpful for him. Since this child's behavior choices are frequently very poor and consequently disruptive of classroom procedures, having Ralphie out of the classroom for 45 minutes once a week has probably been most beneficial to the OTHER students in his class -- an opportunity to have some of the teacher's attention. And I am sure this break from pandemonium has put a smidgen of sanity in his teacher's life.

So while mentoring surely has not been what I expected it to be; there have been some positive results.


Carol said...

Don't sell yourself short. You're likely making a bigger impact that you think.

Ruth said...

Good Morning Joan. I enjoyed your comments about Sudoku. Is that the puzzle Sheila refered to in Bran's BLOG?

In fact I love reading all your writing.