three pundits every new teacher needs

In an ideal world, every teacher would have a mentor like Terri Gross from NPR; someone who would listen before speaking. Each mentor would ask insightful questions followed occasionally by a few witty insights. On a tough day, all new teachers could have someone who would sit and explore the day in-depth Fresh Air style.

When I first began, I didn’t really have a mentor in the teaching field. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted a Terri Gross or maybe a Charlie Rose. The school assigned me a hard-working woman who excelled in teaching, but didn’t really have time to talk. I’d say something and she would cut me off and talk. If I wanted a Charlie Rose, she was the equivalent of a Chris Matthews. Over the course of the year, I found different teachers to fulfill the role of mentor. Oddly enough, they fit into the talk show host prototypes fairly well:
  1. Larry King: Every teacher needs a teacher who will listen and toss out soft ball questions.
  2. Bill O’Reilley: Every teacher needs a teacher who is comabtive, cantankerous and realistic; a hard-ass “straight talker” who brings up points that one might disagree with
  3. Jon Stewart: I realize that he’s not a pundit, but rather a master of satire. Yet, that’s why he’s such an effective pundit. I’m convinced that every new teacher needs a humorous person to point out the insanity of the standardized system.
Pretentious, Presumptuous and Perhaps Practical Advice
  • Mentors are there to help you, but it’s okay to disregard what they say. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own decisions.
  • When I was a first year teacher, my greatest fear was “being exposed.” I was so scared of looking dumb. I kept thinking, “What do they think of me?” The reality is, they don’t think of me. Ultimately, I’m held accountable to my students alone. I also learned that the more transparent I was, the closer people became. Admitting my mistakes did not lead to being shunned, but to being embraced.
  • You don’t need a formal mentoring program to be mentored. The best mentoring happens over a pint.
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John Spencer

My goal is simple. I want to make something each day. Sometimes I make things. Sometimes I make a difference. On a good day, I get to do both.

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