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SD Department of Education
March 2020  
 

TEACHER FEATURE:
Mentoring pairs foster the future of teaching


Statewide Mentoring Program applications for the 2020-21 school year are now open. We’ve checked in with several experienced teachers and mentees to learn more about the value they’re getting out of this important program:





Alrlington
Lauren Antonen (left), mentor; and Tiffany Edman, mentee; Arlington School District

What have you most enjoyed about the mentoring program?
Lauren: I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Tiffany through our mentoring relationship. It has been a lot of fun! If I had to pick something that I have enjoyed the most, I would say that it is just interacting with her – she has such great energy and enthusiasm. Tiffany has such a wonderful way of engaging with new and challenging experiences and her positivity is infectious.

Tiffany: Being a first-year teacher, I really enjoyed that I was not going through the year feeling alone. It is great to have a veteran teacher to provide you with support throughout the year. My mentor has been someone I can always come to when I reach a “bump in the road.”

What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a mentor?
Lauren: Do it! While there is, of course, a time commitment, it is worth every minute you will spend on the program. I am the teacher I am today largely because of my mentors, and I want to make sure that I share that same gift with teachers who are just starting out. Our new teachers need and deserve our support as they learn to navigate life as a teacher, and in the end, it is likely that you will feel that you got more out of this program than you put in!

What are some of the most valuable things you’ve learned from Lauren?
Tiffany: Lauren has taught me a plethora of valuable things already this year. I am so thankful that she is my mentor. I would say some of the most important things she has taught me include behavior management techniques, how to manage progress monitoring, and the importance of relationships with both students and staff. She is just an all-around great role model for what a teacher should be.

What are some of the most valuable things you’ve learned from Tiffany?
Lauren: Tiffany has reminded me how important it is to be able to let things go and see the humor in situations. She helps me remember to appreciate the amazing staff and students we get to work with every day and not take any part of our amazing school community for granted.

What is your outlook on your teaching career as a result of participating in the mentoring program?
Tiffany: I have a very positive outlook on my future teaching career. I have learned so much from Lauren that I will be able to take with me and implement in my teaching career. This mentoring program has really helped build my self-confidence and it makes me excited for my future in teaching.






Jennifer Gee, Deubrook Area School District, mentee
Not pictured: Sami Peil, Spearfish School District, mentor

What have you most enjoyed about the mentoring program?
Jennifer: The most enjoyable part of the mentoring program has been the growing relationship between Sami and me. It almost 'forced' us to be close. While I'm sure we would have become close because we were in the same district, it made that relationship strong from the beginning. This was crucial for me starting out my teaching career. Having someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of from the start was amazing.

What are some of the most valuable things you’ve learned from Sami?
Jennifer: I have learned that it is okay to make mistakes. I'm just starting out in my career, so it is expected that I have areas that I need to improve. Sami and I had a lot of fun discussing how to best improvise when things do go wrong or not according to plan, which are some really useful skills that I am still using today! While I try to strive for perfection, Sami has also encouraged me to take a step back and strive for improvement. If a lesson or a lab went well, great! What could I do better next year to make it the best?

What is your outlook on your teaching career as a result of participating in the mentoring program?
Jennifer: My outlook is bright. The fact that there are so many people out there willing to step up and be mentors tells me that this career is worth the struggles that come with it. There are so many resources out there for newer teachers, as well as teachers who have been around for decades. This kind of support is important because I am always looking to improve, and I know that I can do so in this career with the information that I received from the mentor program.

Sami and Jennifer were in the same district for their first year in the mentoring program and continue to make the program work, despite being in different districts this year.
Jennifer: I think the long distance has been going well. We both know that the school year can get away from us a bit, but I think that the times we Skype are that much better because we have more to talk about. I think that for the long-distance mentoring to work, the first year needed to be in a close area. I don't think that I would have had such a good experience in my first year if I did not have Sami just down the hall from me to talk when I needed to. I have enjoyed less of the prep needed being a second-year teacher, so I am able to focus more on the actual teaching and behavior management this year. Because those topics don't need immediate feedback, it works to talk with Sami every couple weeks to catch up and discuss “game plans” for behavior.





Pierre
Corina Repman (left), mentee; and Alicia Schoenhard, mentor; Pierre School District

How did you schedule your mentoring meetings?
Alicia and Corina: We decided to meet weekly to discuss Corina’s questions about lesson planning, school and classroom routines and procedures, or anything that came up during the week. We found it valuable to meet this frequently at the start of the year because there were so many “new teacher” questions that came up. As long as we had a set time to meet, we knew these questions would get resolved quickly.

What are some of the most valuable things you’ve learned from Alicia?
Corina: Alicia has made my first year of teaching unforgettable. She has taught me things that one does not learn when they are going to college to become a teacher. She has taught me to treat all students as if they are my own children, there is always a silver lining, and to always smile no matter how exhausted you are. Her passion and love for teaching radiates off her and it pushes me to strive to be a better teacher each day. I cannot thank her enough for everything she has taught me and continues to teach me.

What are some of the most valuable things you’ve learned from Corina?
Alicia: Corina has taught me to be a more assertive educator. She is not afraid to speak up when advocating for her students. She is respectful to the views of everyone involved but continues to put her students first. Corina has come in with such confidence for a first-year teacher, and gives the appearance that she’s been at it for many years already. I’m extremely proud of the work she has done so far this year!

What is your outlook on your teaching career as a result of participating in the mentoring program?
Corina: By participating in the mentoring program, I am excited for what is to come in my teaching career. I have made everlasting friendships and have learned a lot about myself as both a person and an educator. I look forward to continuing my career and continuing to build relationships with the many talented teachers who surround me!





Viborg-Hurleuy
Deb Jensen, mentor; and Tyler Novak, mentee; Viborg-Hurley School District

What have you most enjoyed about the mentoring program?
Deb: What I have enjoyed the most is reconnecting with Tyler on a professional level. I taught him in kindergarten and knew him later as my son’s friend. It has been exciting to work as colleagues, and I value his energy and enthusiasm.
Tyler: Throughout my experience, the best part about the mentoring program is the relationship that is built with your mentor. Whenever I have a question about something, education or otherwise, I know just who to go to for advice. It makes me more confident in my own teaching knowing that there is someone a few doors down who is always willing to communicate over various happenings in the classroom, school-to-home communication, time management, lesson planning, you name it.

What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a mentor?
Deb: Do it! It really is a great experience. It facilitates examination of teaching practices, which keeps us all growing as educators.

What are some of the most valuable things you’ve learned from Deb?
Tyler: I have continued to grow in my ability to communicate with families effectively. I have gained a greater understanding that not every day may go as planned and that it is okay! Also, I have learned that it never hurts to ask a question you may have. Better to be prepared, rather than to scramble later on or to miss a valuable learning opportunity.

What are some of the most valuable things you’ve learned from Tyler?
Deb: I have learned many things from Tyler that are technology related. If I have a question about technology in my room, he is my go-to person!

What is your outlook on your teaching career as a result of participating in the mentoring program?
Tyler: I most definitely have a more positive outlook on my career in education because of the program! Relationships are very important to me and I feel that they are a vital piece to what makes this program work. The program really does set you up to succeed with various tools in education. The only question you have to ask yourself is, "What are you going to do with those tools?"



 
 
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