A Journey Through Technology

Week 9: How is mentoring adults different from teaching children?

on March 25, 2017

This week we are looking at the differences between teaching children and mentoring adults. Until this semester I hadn’t had any experience as a mentor, but I am currently in my seventh year of teaching. Just in the few weeks that I have been serving as a mentor I have noticed quite a few differences. The main difference for me right now is the content. I normally teach chemistry to my students, but now I’m helping my colleague learn about technology and how to better use it in her classroom. But content is not the only difference between teaching and mentoring.

First, looking at the definitions shows a distinct difference between mentoring and teaching. “Mentoring is typically providing advice based on the mentor’s personal experience.” (Reed, 2014) This semester I am mentoring one of my colleagues in the use of technology in the classroom. I am using my persona experiences with technology to help her learn about and be able to use it more in her classroom. Another explanation of a mentor is “an experienced person who acts as an advisor to another individual.” (2015) I am using my experience to help my mentee gain more experience with technology.

As I look at these explanations of a mentor, I can see how teachers could act as mentors to our students. I definitely use my personal experience to teach my students and also to advise some of them. In an article titled Teaching vs. Mentoring, Paula Marantz Cohen explains the difference between teaching and mentoring: “A teacher has greater knowledge than a student; a mentor has greater perspective.” (2012) In my mentor role this year, I do not feel like I have more knowledge than my mentee, but I do have a different perspective with respect to technology than she does, which allows me to share my experience with her.

In reading the chapter for this week, I found the explanation of mentoring adults to be very similar to many of the theories surrounding teaching children. Adults should be mentored based on their needs or interests; the subject of the mentoring should be relevant to them, either through their work or their life; active participation and experiences in mentoring are key to success; mentors should work with the mentee to make sure they are involved in the process; and differentiation should be used to ensure best learning methods for the mentee. (Papa, 2011, p.100) Even though mentoring takes place under different circumstances that teaching children, it appears that the process should actually be very similar to the way we teach our students.


Difference Between Mentor and Teacher | Mentor vs Teacher. (2015). Differencebetween.com. Retrieved 24 March 2017, from http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-mentor-and-vs-teacher/

Cohen, P. (2012). The American Scholar: Teaching vs. Mentoring. Theamericanscholar.org. Retrieved 24 March 2017, from https://theamericanscholar.org/teaching-vs-mentoring/#

Papa, R. (2011). Technology Leadership for School Improvement. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc. http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2051/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=467141&site=ehost-live&ebv=EB&ppid=pp_91 on March 24, 2017

Reed, B. (2014). Coach, Teach, Mentor – What’s the difference? Retrieved 24 March 2017, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140528120908-1127427-coach-teach-mentor-what-s-the-difference

5 responses to “Week 9: How is mentoring adults different from teaching children?

  1. unicyclepro says:

    I happen to come across a great comparison between a “coach” and a “mentor”. I wrote about it in my blog, but it was funny to think about the mentorship we are doing right now with a colleague at our school. I basically asked what I could do to help them with technology, and helped in any way possible. This is true mentoring. There was no set specific agenda, and it’s about the individual, not the performance of the individual. Coaches worry about this stuff. The thing I’m struggling with now is my mentee is a language arts teacher, and I’m a math teacher. I see technology in a different light than an English teacher, so it’s challenging for me to come up with some suggestions for tech use if they don’t have any idea (since they don’t use it that much in instruction). But I think it has been working great so far.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tristan says:

    I found the same definition of a mentor by Cohen when I was reading through different articles and I think it’s a good fit. I feel like even when I am teaching my students, I am still mentoring them, I don’t just teach them math, I try and help them with life when they come to me with different issues. I try and impart some type of wisdom to them throughout the year when they need it and I try and show them through my actions what is appropriate and through discipline why they are facing consequences and that rules are to teach them how to be a good citizen. To me, that was what I always thought a mentor was and if someone asked me who mentored me through school I would have said someone who did these things for me. In my opinion you can’t be a teacher without the mentorship role, but I feel like you can be a mentor without the teacher role. I feel that way because as I mentor my colleague in technology, I too, don’t feel like I have more knowledge, just a greater perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sara Lucas says:

    I think you nailed it with this quote: “A teacher has greater knowledge than a student; a mentor has greater perspective.” If we assume the role of a mentor we aim to share with each other. This can be hard in teaching children because they don’t always have as much knowledge. I think mentoring definitely works better as the student gets older. A mentorship takes such a different skill set than teaching. I know in my mentorship it is hard to take a step back and let the mentee share what she knows. I have such a great desire to help her that sometimes it is hard to just step back.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jtschewe says:

    I’m glad you wrote about the difference between mentoring and teaching. I did as well. It may sound like semantics, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I begin to see and true distinction between the two. I think we switch between our teacher hats and mentor hats so quickly and frequently during the course of our days, that at times we begin to lose track of which one we’re wearing. For me, mentoring is all about sharing my experiences and perspective, with the hope that it helps someone – youth or adult.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In my mentorship project, I also do not know more about the technology than my mentee. I have found that just by listening to my mentee talk about her struggles with the technology, it helps her reflect on what is working. Mentorship relationships are about motivating the mentee and when both parties are learning.

    Liked by 1 person

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