Defining And Discussing Mentors

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Defining and Discussing Mentors

Defining and Discussing Mentors


Mentoring is often used interchangeably with assisting, guiding, teaching, learning, readiness, compensation, support, and socialization. Studies have focused on the mentoring of preservice and inservice teacher populations with attention gradually accommodating prospective and practicing administrators. This disequilibrium in mentoring is reflected in public school culture, as beginning and prospective administrators from among staff have been largely overlooked.

Alred, Garve & Smith (2000) mention with regard to mentors I will say that the term mentor is one with a long history. As related in Homer's Odyssey, Mentor was the noble friend whom Odysseus (known as Ulysses by the Romans) asked to protect his household (including his wife) and to educate and care for his son (Telemachus). Athena, goddess of war and wisdom, took the form of Mentor on occasion to give wise and useful advice to both Odysseus and his son—advice that would most likely have been rejected had Athena appeared in her true female form. Thus, the term mentor comes to us from an oral saga first told hundreds of years B.C.E. and encompassing behaviors of nurturance, counseling, and support (Alred, Garve & Smith, 2000).

Defining and Discussing Mentors

The term mentor has been used to describe relationships between apprentices and masters within trade guilds, but most recently it is used to describe relationships between professionals and protégés.

Mentoring can benefit both mentor and mentee. Mentors who actively recruit less experienced talent have the advantage of contacting quality pre-professionals early, and mentees get experience and begin to build a network. Mentors also learn valuable training and leadership skills while enacting their role and can experience greater job satisfaction (Alred, Garve & Smith, 2000).

Mentors and their protégés typically form a one-to-one relationship in which the mentor, older or more experienced than the protégé, facilitates upward mobility and provides advice, protection, and guidance. Mentors typically provide three types of support to their protégés. Vocational support enhances the career of the protégé by providing advice, sponsorship, or protection. Psychosocial support facilitates the social-emotional stability of the protégé by providing friendship, acceptance, and reassurance. Role modeling promotes growth of the protégé by demonstrating appropriate behavior.

Since the 1980s, many businesses, schools, and nonprofit organizations have instituted mentoring programs to facilitate retention and development of employees, students, and trainees. At the same time, researchers have assessed both formal and informal mentoring relationships to determine the benefits of being mentored and the conditions under which these benefits are most likely to accrue (Johnson, 2002).

Mentoring has been found to have a positive effect on performance, employee retention, income, and career development. While it has been found that a formal mentoring program is more effective than no mentoring, there is evidence that in most instances, informal mentoring programs in which the protégé has the opportunity to choose his or her own mentor produce stronger results (Johnson, 2002). Informal mentoring often results in long-term relationships, greater retention in the profession, more promotions, and higher salaries in the protégé's future ...
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