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Time for Wisdom


Laurie Stenehjem, a graduate of North Dakota State University and a teacher with more than 25 years experience, is a mentor in the Grand Forks Middle School Resident Teacher Program. Laurie and first-year teacher Kimberly Johnson share their journal entries with Education World readers in alternating weeks.

Kim wrote last week that she hopes her students will become wiser, kinder, and more thoughtful in the coming year. What a good wish for all of us!

Let's see ... how can I do that in my work as a mentor?

I'll start by becoming "wiser." My tattered little Webster's defines wisdom as "knowledge -- and the capacity to make use of it." I like thinking of wisdom in those two parts: knowledge and the capacity to make use of it.

I really enjoy gathering knowledge about teaching and learning -- and there's so much out there! One of my favorite sources of knowledge right now is Middleweb, a listserv I faithfully lurk at and occasionally contribute to. The folks who make up that group are so professional, thoughtful, creative, and dedicated that I always learn by catching up on their postings.

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Do you have comments, questions, or advice for Laurie and Kim? Would you like to talk about your own experiences with mentoring? Share your thoughts on "The First 180 Days: A Teacher and Her Mentor."

Add to that the articles posted at EducationWorld and the information provided in numerous online and print magazines, journals, and books, and the task of gathering knowledge becomes easy. In fact, collections of printouts, periodicals, and books that I plan to read are starting to pile up in my office. One of my New Year's resolutions is to get those piles sorted into some sort of neat filing system!

Of course, after the knowledge comes the real work -- making use of it all. I know from experience that if I try to work on improving too many areas at once, I won't make lasting changes in any of them. But I really do want to get better at assessment and differentiating instruction ... at implementing strategies for improving reading comprehension and teaching problem-solving ... at classroom management. I really do want to set up a program to provide all our new teachers with mentoring support. I really do want to learn how to better use technology in my university class. I really do!

What a wonderful time to be a teacher, with so much new information about teaching and learning available! I would love to be able to read and use it all! But I can't, so how do I decide where to begin?

Whew! I'm already falling behind in keeping my New Year's resolutions -- and I'm still only working on becoming "wiser." I haven't even started working on "kinder" or "more thoughtful" yet. Wow! I'd better get off this computer and get to work. Hmmm ... let's see. I think I have an article about setting priorities in one of these piles. It must be here somewhere.

Click here for biographical information and previous entries.

Article by Laurie Stenehjem
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