ERIC Number: EJ913502
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jan
Reference Count: 7
Mentoring Matters: Taking an Empathic Stance
McCann, Thomas M.
English Journal, v100 n3 p102-104 Jan 2011
Too often, the school leaders who construct a school's master schedule and decide the teaching assignments for new teachers assign the newcomers the most difficult schedules. The difficulty might include multiple preparations for classes with the neediest and most-challenging students, and moves to three or four different classrooms throughout the school day. These difficult assignments convey a regrettable view of new colleagues as initiates who have to endure hardship to develop resiliency while earning a status that warrants a more humane experience. As someone who has researched the concerns of beginning teachers and has managed mentor programs in schools, the author finds the view of new teaching colleagues as low-status initiates disturbing, to say the least. In this article, the author calls for an empathic stance toward new colleagues, recognizing a capacity for empathy as a key characteristic of an effective mentor. "Empathy" in this context means being able to put oneself in the place of the new teacher and being able to imagine vividly what he or she is experiencing. It means further that someone is able to connect emotionally with that experience and able to respond to that connection with understanding and compassion. This empathic stance is at the core of a mentor's role; when teachers or administrators look for mentor candidates, they should look for an inclination to react empathically toward others.
Descriptors: Resilience (Psychology), Mentors, Altruism, Beginning Teachers, Empathy, Interpersonal Relationship, Role, Teacher Orientation, Teacher Persistence, Teaching Conditions
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
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