Maggie’s final blog post focuses on her experience being mentored by UCDS faculty as part of our Resident Teacher Program -Ed.
The school year, in its usual fashion, has wound to a close in the traditional whirlwind of activities to be followed in June with quiet time for reflection and planning. It is natural to look back and reflect on the successful completion of another year and remember the relationships that we have nurtured with our students.
As a resident at UCDS last year, I also look back fondly on the mentor/mentee relationship. While this relationship is primarily structured for the mentee to gain knowledge and skills through this working partnership, it was also made clear from the get-go that this relationship is a reciprocal one. There was an expectation that the mentee would share his or her insight and it was clear that there was an appreciation of the mentee’s experience.
The resident program at UCDS has been in place for many years. It is well-established and the various components that have evolved over time are both intentional and meaningful. There are monthly meetings for both the mentors and the mentees with the resident coordinators. As residents, we also participated in specific annual activities with the mentors working closely by our sides as we took over the reins. Residents had the opportunity to collaborate with mentors in writing biannual reports on our students and sharing in the responsibility of planning and leading parent-teacher conferences. Residents were also included in professional development opportunities including an end-of-summer math workshop and a NWAIS (Northwest Association of Independent Schools) teachers’ conference.
There is also a much more fluid element to this mentor/mentee relationship, which our school honors and nurtures. It is the less scripted day-in and day-out of working closely together as co-teachers. It is here that both the mentor and mentee find a rhythm unique to those two individuals. It is here, in the simple magical moments of daily life in the classroom, in the buzz of activity, that the resident teacher not only gets to observe but also engage as teacher. And this engaging, in turn, permits experimenting and refining his or her own style, philosophy, and expectations as a teacher. For me, working closely with my mentor and being viewed as a co-teacher is where I gained confidence in my own practice and philosophy. I am grateful for this uniquely UCDS experience.