There was a time when the Mkhitar Sebastatsi EduComplex had a problem of gaining more students. The teachers of the EduComplex did everything to bring as many students as possible to the school, because the question of whether each teacher would work or not depended on the the number of students. Times have changed now. The EduComplex and the alternative program are becoming more attractive to the citizens of Armenia every year. The number of students is increasing, so is the number of teachers. New students bring new teachers to the EduComplex. New specialists apply to the EduComplex every year. Those specialists, having passed all the procedures for working in the EduComplex, are included in the life of the EduComplex and appear in our Sebastian environment. Of course, for a specialist who has not yet worked in the EduComplex, there is a lot of news in the school. The entry pedagogical camps and volunteer work are not enough for a specialist to master all that is required of him. Mentors come to their aid here as well. Mentors are people with work experience who help the newly admitted specialist to integrate into the life of the educational institution. I have been working as a mentor for the second year already.
What has mentoring given me and gives me, and why do I value and approach this work responsibly? First of all, I want the specialist having applied to the EduComplex not to feel alone, not to be “afraid” of what is new for him and to be able to understand where he/she has appeared, what is required of him, and gradually get used to the life of the EduComplex, and in this way to be included and become independent. I approach all this so responsibly, because I want the EduComplex to have good teachers, and the new teacher not to fail.
The people I worked with were very different during these two years. People are different, with different ways of thinking, different abilities and worldviews. You should find the option to work with everyone and understand how to help. During this time, I have realized that you should work in different ways with different people. There are those who are not always as ready to work with you as you are. I should have to find the right ways to relate to different people. The method that works in one case does not work in another case. You need to review your approaches, adapt to another person’s human qualities, value system, abilities and wishes. One teacher needs more help, and another – less. You discuss situational issues with one teacher, and another teacher needs less of this type of help. You are more helpful to one teacher with organizational work, and another teacher needs help with substantive work. But in all cases, the work of a mentor obliges the other person to be part of your work routine. Sometimes you invade his personal space, sometimes he invades yours. There is so much contact that you become friends involuntarily, whether you like it or not.
Human contact is very important in this work. Since people find themselves in a new working environment at an adult age, it is not always possible to find friends, adapt, and become close. And the environment, existence of friends and human contact are no less a prerequisite for coming to work with love. With this respect, I consider it important to communicate with the people entrusted to me. I make friends with them, communicate with them so that they feel warmth and closeness. We often discuss the partnership relations and the problems that have arisen in the school.
It is very important for the newly hired specialist to understand what is required of him/her in terms of content, and what are the requirements of the student working with him/her. When preparing works and projects, the new teacher should be able to offer materials that satisfy the students’ requirements and interests, interest and motivate them in terms of content. I help the newcomer with these matters. I find out what difficulties arise and try to offer solutions to them.
Organizational work is no less important in the educational process. The best material and project can fail because of poor organization. We discuss a lot how to organize the elements of this or that project in the class, so that there is no student who does not work in the class. We discuss what organizational tools there exist and how to work with them.
There are technical problems, but they are among the easiest to solve. Since everything is new for the new teacher, sometimes the technical questions also seem difficult. These range from a student’s computer malfunctioning…
Methodological advice and assistance are perhaps the most interesting part the mentor’s work. This is where the teacher’s originality can be seen. I like the new teacher to try to achieve his/her aim in the result of discoveries and efforts. Methodological discussions are no less important. Discussions, searching for and finding pedagogical solutions appropriate to the situations, dialoguing about any issue are almost daily work. There are always situations in the classroom that require the mentor’s advice and experience to resolve them.
Work at School
At school, work is constant: either the teacher attached to you attends your class, or you participate in his/her class. In your spare time, you are always together, discussing various issues, making projects, etc.
If you are a mentor, you must be ready to help the new teacher twenty-four hours a day. In addition to working at school (sometimes you are so busy during the day that you don’t have time to discuss any issue), very often the discussions are done on the online platform. You communicate with emails and also on various social platforms, ask questions, give advice, send him/her educational materials.
In this work, it is very important that the mentor should be careful not to turn into a “tyrant”, someone who dictates his opinion after having helped the new teacher. The mentor should give him/her the opportunity to express himself/herself, to take the initiative, to find solutions, rather than guide him/her. The mentor shouldn’t give the new teacher everything ready. The new teacher should be allowed to express himself/herself. The new teacher should be able to turn a good idea into a project, organize, and coordinate. In other words, the mentor should give the new teacher the tools, not the ready-made material to work with.
So, I like the mentor’s work. The responsibility is very big. I try to share as much knowledge as I can with the new teacher to help him/her so that he/she is not disappointed with school work, pedagogy, the variety of demands and difficulties of alternative pedagogy.