Mentor teacher

Being a Mentor Teacher

Sarah Kirchoff Uncategorized

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Growing the profession – this is the job of mentor teachers. It’s our job to make sure that novice teachers and student teaching candidates have what they need; materials, answers, support, advice, techniques, teaching tools, and anything else that might come up. Mentors have a monumentally important job; we need to help grow this profession and shape the future of new teachers.

Navigating the last few years in education has been difficult for all; teachers, parents, and students. There are some brave, energetic people that aren’t being scared off by all the negative attention that educators are receiving right now and those are student teaching candidates. These brave individuals are choosing to enter an ever-changing field.

Student teaching candidates need more support than ever. They were attending classes during the pandemic and know what it is like to be on the other side of the computer during virtual learning. And even after all of that, they are still choosing to become educators! They are eager and excited! When working with student teaching candidates I am often reenergized by their commitment and drive. Seeing the student-teacher gain confidence is just one of the many aspects I look forward to when working with student teachers. They are the future of our profession, and we need to be of service to them in a variety of ways to help them to achieve success.

For the last four years, I have had the privilege of mentoring student teaching candidates from different university programs from across Arizona. During a time in their lives when they can choose to be anything, they are choosing to become teachers. Watching them grow and learn is almost as exciting as watching my students learn how to read.

Back in 1998, when I was student teaching, I had an incredible mentor teacher. She was a talented teacher and an incredible human being. I was also fortunate during my first year of teaching, that I was assigned a mentor teacher at my school that I met with regularly. She was a wonderful resource for ideas and techniques. She was an excellent listener and was amazingly insightful.

I am still in contact with those two teachers that shaped me into the teacher I am today. I still seek advice and mentorship from them. They changed me and I can only hope to have the same effect on those I work with every year.

I have been a teacher for 22 years. During this time, I have been a mentor to many interns, student teaching candidates, first-year teachers, and teachers new to our district. At a time when things are hard and the responsibilities seem endless, I am reminded that what we do matters. Being a mentor teacher is incredibly important to the future of our profession. We have been trusted to support and encourage these committed and dedicated people to change the lives of their future students. The impact of what we do today will set the tone for years to come.

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Sarah Kirchoff is a kindergarten teacher in the Higley Unified School District. She has over 20 years of experience in early childhood education. She began her teaching career way back in August 1999, when everyone was worried about Y2K. She did not even have computers in her classroom at that time! Since then, she has taught first grade for four years, preschool for three years, second grade for two years and kindergarten for twelve years. She has worked for three different school districts during her teaching career. During this time, she has been able to identify which grade she found to be the most enjoyable. Her greatest teaching passion is for kindergarten. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University. She was teacher of the year at her school in the 2019-2020 school year. Most recently, she became a National Board Certified Teacher as an Early Childhood Generalist in December of 2020. She currently serves on numerous committees at her school including school site council, the instructional leadership team, and the culture and climate team. She is a mentor teacher at her school and has mentored numerous interns and student teaching candidates. When she is not busy with school commitments, she spends time with her family. She has a husband who is also a teacher, and four children. Two of which are students at NAU and two that are in high school. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading books and spending time with family, friends and her two dogs. Young children need a teacher that is always advocating for them, socially, emotionally, and academically. Sarah wants every student she encounters to realize their potential and she is willing to help in any way she can. The impact early childhood educators have on students reaches far beyond their younger years. Sarah wants to leave a positive impact on her students so they can continue to have wonderful educational experiences beyond her classroom.

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