One of the key relationships that teachers can develop with students is to be a mentor for them. This is similar to the role of advisor, but at the same time, there are some differences. For the mentor and student relationship to develop, there has to be a connection between the teacher and the student. The goal of a mentor is to help a student advance and maximize their educational and personal growth. Many times, this type of relationship will continue long after a student graduates. Quite a few of my former students still reach out to me for advice and at the same time they want to check and see how I am doing as well. These conversations and relationships mean quite a bit to teachers and is one of the reasons why many of us become teachers.
Unlike the advisor who is usually assigned to students, a mentor is someone that a student seeks out and the teacher agrees to help. In the role of a mentor, the teacher wants to optimize the educational experience for the student. This can be done in a one-on-one setting and could include discussions about curriculum and extracurricular activities. An advisor can do this too, but many times they are looking at a group of students instead of an individual. To be a successful mentor, one must be a very good listener and be able to demonstrate a sincere understanding of the concerns of their students. The life experiences of a teacher can be beneficial in helping to advise students as many times the teacher was once sitting in the same spot when they were themselves a student.
It is beneficial for students to have multiple mentors. This allows a student to get different perspectives from teachers that they hold in high regard. Some of the factors that help to make a match and make things click between a student and faculty mentor vary, such as: age, discipline, and personality. These are, of course, personal preferences that develop in relationships. The reward for students is that they develop a rapport both in and outside of the classroom with their mentor while gaining the advice of someone who has gone through similar life experiences when they were a student. The reward for the teacher is to realize that you have had a positive impact on a student that will last a lifetime. To me, one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching is to see and hear how well your students are doing in life after they have graduated college.
By Tom Drahozal
Mr. Drahozal is the Upper School principal. He also teaches history and coaches our varsity baseball and girls’ basketball teams.