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Naming the World

At this time of year, when so many of our students are in the thick of test taking, it seems natural to think about our own year's growth. How high have we climbed in the last year on what John Hattie calls the "ladder of excellence?" Whatever role in which we are presently cast, we might ask the same question. Whether a seasoned veteran mentor or a wide-eyed newbie, we are each somewhere reaching ever higher.

One of the primary objectives of a new teacher and mentor program at a school ought to be a focus on accelerating this rate of climb for new teachers and mentors alike. If the relationship is truly collaborative, both are enriched through the mutual benefit of experiences and expertise.

The type of growth hoped for in a mentoring relationship can only occur through a process of dialogue. As Paulo Freire describes it, dialogue is dependent on both members of the relationship having an equal voice and working together to construct an improved understanding. He says that "no one can say a true word alone—nor can she say it for another, in a prescriptive act which robs others of their words. Dialogue is the encounter between men, mediated by the world, in order to name the world."

In such a complex profession as education, if we are to advance, we must engage in a constant process of naming and renaming the world. At the core of the work of an educator is something like what Wallace Stevens describes as a "response to the daily necessity of getting the world right." And to really get it right, we will need to share in the expertise of others who are similarly engaged in the same process.

 

 

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