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Mentorship for New School Leaders

Mentors help inspire like-minded individuals to achieve their goals. Usually, mentors have similar careers but hold leadership positions. They have a wealth of knowledge to share about the trials and tribulations of becoming a leader. Also, a mentor usually has or had a mentor because those with a desire to teach also crave learning. This is especially true for teachers in any level of education. If a student desires to lead at a school, they need to seek a mentor to inspire and teach them. A Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Queens University of Charlotte’s Cato School of Education provides training and mentorship from experienced leaders to those with a desire to become new school leaders.

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring, at its core, allows students to receive actual advice and guidance for the career they are working toward from individuals already established in the industry. Mentors offer students a much-needed understanding of certain topics that may not be taught in the classroom. Because of this, it is an important step, especially for those who are pursuing school administrator roles. The Southern Regional Education Board notes that it is vital for aspiring principals to receive “high-quality school-based experiences” centering on student achievement problems in order to develop the skills needed to implement change in not only teaching, but learning as well. If trained professionals aren’t available to inspire and teach other leaders, progress comes to a standstill.

What can Mentors Help Students Understand?

There are numerous complex issues that education administrators need to manage, as noted by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Many new school principals find the isolation of the job rather lonely, but a mentor can provide friendship and advice during this difficult adjustment period. When aspiring school administrators are mentored, they are able to see and understand these issues, as well as some of the best ways to work around the problems they will likely face one day. Mentors in this field can also help developing administrators understand the benchmarks that are achievable when they step up to lead, as well as those that will be much more difficult or may call for an unorthodox approach. Many new principals arrive in their roles with optimistic expectations, but reality soon sets in and they encounter numerous obstacles, preventing them from achieving their goals. This can be upsetting to any educator, but a mentor can help guide the individual, provide encouragement and instill realistic expectations for his or her future plans.

Mentors should be able to teach developing administrators about how education ethics work in the real world and in the positions in which they will work. Topics like curriculum development and implementation need to be customized to an individual school or district, and those who are currently doing the job can best teach these lessons. The Southern Regional Education Board notes, “Investing in high-quality mentoring is an effective way for districts to secure a ready supply of capable school leaders who know from the start how to implement school reform strategies.”

When is Mentorship Needed?

Image via Flickr by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Image via Flickr by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

In any field, it is important to have a good mentorship program. However, when individuals are working toward becoming an influential leader, they need to be able to look up to someone. The Southern Regional Education Board elaborates on this point, stating, “Until we provide the resources and structures to ensure that every mentor has the ability and support to manage challenging experiences for interns in real-school situations, the value of the mentoring process to enhance leadership preparation — and ultimately to raise student achievement — is severely limited.”

An effective mentor will also help an individual find the proper training. Too often, students in these types of degree programs are left to learn on the job, which makes it much more difficult in the end. Queens University of Charlotte’s online Master of Arts in Educational Leadership curriculum ensures that students complete an internship in which they shadow a principal who serves as their mentor. These mentors have real-world experience and are able to help the students navigate the difficult waters of school administrator training. Students also receive ongoing support and guidance from the faculty, who are personally committed to each student’s individual success.

Where Should Focus Lie?

Education administration is an arduous path. However, many find the challenges to be exactly what they want in a career. Further your education in this field online and receive an MA in Educational Leadership that will empower you to help students not only in the textbook definition, but also in the practical application of educational leadership through mentoring. With this training and mentorship program, the administrator has the opportunity to become a mentor one day as well.

View our infographic on the impact of an effective principal to learn more about the importance of developing strong school leaders.