I am a teacher leader by Rashawn Williams, M.Ed., TRST, i3 Mentor, Professional Development, Polk County Public Schools 

When asked the question, “why do teachers need mentors and coaches?”, I reflected on my 2 years of being a teacher leader and mentor in my school district.  These are the words that came to my mind:

I am a teacher leader.

I question, clarify, and support. Mentoring language is my friend.  How I build and sustain relationships affects what coaching stances I can use with each of my teachers.

I am a teacher leader.

Teachers have grown and become autonomous in their teaching and they are confident in their teaching practices.  They make their own decisions based on what is best for their individual classroom of students. Teachers can now make learning targets and teach to the standards alongside veteran teachers.  Even though they are still growing, I celebrate the progress they each have made.

I am a teacher leader.

I depend on my peers, lead mentors, and school-based coaches for their in-field experiences, encouragement, and ideas.  We all stretch each other and continue to learn together. It is a continuous effort to the best for our teachers. We don’t reinvent the wheel.  If it is working for one, it may work for us all.

I am a teacher leader.

I know what great teaching looks like.  I advocate for diverse learners. I lead my teachers to scaffold instruction and provide support, so that ALL students have a chance at SUCCESS.

I am a teacher leader.

When I am unsure or have a need, I know I am one phone call, text, or video conference away from help.  We have created a safe environment to share best practices as mentors and problem solve together. This mindset is also transferred over to our teachers.  As teachers, we are not alone. We teach. We problem solve. We do what is best for kids.

I am a teacher leader.

I have modeled lessons for my teachers and when I turn to hear little voices asking, “When are you coming back again?”, it makes all the difference.  Teachers are impacting lives forever and I get a chance to be a part of the impact. That’s what mentoring is all about. Impacting one teacher, one student, and one school at a time.  This is why teachers need a mentor or a coach.

When asked to share one positive thing about having a mentor, these are some of the comments from my teachers.
Teacher #1: “My mentor listens to me.”
Teacher #2: “My mentor is such an easy person to open up to! Great listener and support.”
Teacher #3: “Feeling confident in my teaching.”
Teacher #4: “I loved co-teaching and learning in the moment!”
Teacher #5: “I have gotten so many ideas and so many opportunities to support my learning and my students’ learning!”
Teacher #6: “I learned that it was okay to implement my own style of teaching and not feel guilty about having my own style when someone else’s style doesn’t work for me.”
Teacher #7: “I loved the 1-1 ratio and the individualized help! Going to miss you!!!!!”

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