As we put finishing touches on preparations for the start of the Winter Term, we reflect on our role as educators. We often refer to ourselves as teachers, coaches, advisors and dorm parents, but simply put, we are mentors. It is not our sole job to teach students, but rather to guide them on their educational journey as a mentor.
I had the privilege of hearing a message Sunday morning that spoke to the importance of cultivating mentoring relationships through authentic communication. Its relevance to my life at Proctor is significant, and it seemed appropriate to share pieces of that message as we prepare for the Winter Term.
As we think about how we mentor students, we must first acknowledge how we communicate with our students. Communicating authentically means more than being honest with each other. It means we have the confidence to admit our shortcomings and to appreciate our weaknesses. As we do this, we provide opportunities for ourselves to develop, while at the same time showing our students that do not need to be perfect, they simply need to embrace opportunities for growth.
Authentic communication helps establish a mentoring culture where we ask meaningful questions of our students and eagerly await their answers. We listen for what really matters and value honor and respect in our relationships.
Ultimately, as mentors, we desire to create an environment where students are able to communicate with us in a ‘judgment-free’ zone; where they are celebrated, not just tolerated, for who they are. We consistently do this in our different roles at Proctor, but a reminder of why we do what we do is never a bad thing.
We have the responsibility, and privilege, to believe in others; to have faith in them to the point where they are willing to take responsibility for their own lives and their own education. The mentoring relationship is a journey, and as we start the Winter Term, we have the perfect opportunity to have open, honest conversations with each of our classes.