Learning environments. The mentor teacher fosters a safe environment by acknowledging and facilitating the relationship between learning and the well-being of the student. He does this by building trust with every student, making himself available for these students and approaching issues with professionalism and adult advice. He builds trust by keeping their secrets (within the confines of the law) and by being a listener. He connects with student experiences and this encourages students to come to him for guidance on not only scholastic concerns, but also emotional and intellectual concerns. He provides this guidance not only for his past and present students but also for students of other teachers.
Experiences with reporting. I asked about times that he had to file reports for issues that crossed the line, or were required by law and he took a very textbook approach about it, but also had an optimistic outlook of the process. He looks up the name of their counselor and their admins, writes an email and sends it to both. Makes himself available to any conferences or meetings regarding the issue but finds that because of the trust he has built with his students, it is often a case of a student confiding in him, in regards to their concerns for their peers. He is then able to report on behalf of that student for another. I believe this to be a true testament to that teacher creating a safe learning environment that his students feel genuinely cared for.
Implications. I have learned that I could create a classroom where students feel like they could trust me with sensitive information, by just being present in the moment with them. That seems like an easy thing to say, but it is much harder to do on a minute-by-minute basis, when the success of a class day can pivot on getting or not getting ten minutes of prep time. My mentor teacher did not take his work home, which I found respectable, as the inverse seems daunting with a 9 month old. Instead, he patiently and compassionately handled every students concerns as they happened. I assumed the confidence of doing so came from years of experience yet he has not yet reached a decade of teaching. Therefore, I still have much to learn about managing the well-being of the students with the requirements of the group and someone highly skilled in doing so has set the mark. I have learned I have much farther to go in being an active listener and look forward to doing so.