Why mentorship matters

October 4, 2017 ACSA Writer

District and school administrators are expected to be great leaders from day one, but this is not always realistic as professionals find their bearings and gather the resources they need to keep learning and growing.

ACSA’s goal is to help you hone your leadership skills as you gain on-the-job experience. Mentoring is an excellent way to find the practical support that so many new administrators seek, and the mentorship program is free for ACSA members. We began our program with superintendents before including site administrators, principals, and district office staff.

What can a mentor do for you?

Your mentor will have a lot of wisdom to share. Mentors can help you understand and react in more productive ways to complicated or unusual situations, or at the very least offer a new perspective on what might be a difficult issue. Mentors can help you feel more confident in your decisions, direct you to better resources, advise you on what skills you might lack, and provide some depth on long-standing education topics.

Mentors can introduce you to other administrative professionals and leaders, helping you expand your professional community. Our hope is that your mentor becomes a valued advisor. In fact, professionals involved in mentoring relationships tend to report greater job satisfaction. For example, teachers who have a mentor are much less likely to leave the profession.

How to foster a successful relationship with a mentor

Make sure to honor scheduling commitments with your mentor and maintain a correspondence of respect and professionalism. It might help to ask:

  • Are there any topics or questions your mentor is not comfortable discussing?
  • How much time do they have to devote to correspondence?
  • What great challenges have they faced in the world of education?
  • What kinds of surprising things have they learned in facing these issues?
  • How might your role be different from what theirs is/was?
  • How did they utilize ACSA’s services, professional development events, etc, to get the most out of their career?

How to find a mentor

In their first two years in a new administrative position, ACSA members are eligible to be paired up with a skilled, experienced mentor with the goal of building a positive professional relationship. Mentors are often retired administrators who want to give back to the field of education.

Having received incredibly positive feedback in it’s second year, ACSA’s Mentorship Program has proven to be one of our most successful personal development initiatives. There are now more than 70 mentor/protégé relationships, which are overseen by regional facilitators. ACSA’s Mentorship Program:

  • Is confidential and informal.
  • Offers practical support and collegial collaboration.
  • Offers on-the-job communication that fits real situations.
  • Is guided by Regional Facilitators whose goal is to improve your experience.
  • Uses operational, technical, and managerial goals to improve the effectiveness of leadership in administration, thereby increasing student success and protecting the valuable investment that is administrative personnel.

Sign up for ACSA’s Mentorship Program here. Remember, there is no charge for this service if you are a member. Upon completion of the application form, you will be contacted by one of our regional facilitators to get started.

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