As an Educator, we sign up as life long learners, people whom transfer knowledge, trades, manners and employable skills to those that was within our schools and classrooms. Walking into my 10th year of teaching I am still learning, but also beginning to master the art of mentoring.
I love receiving our ‘Professionally Speaking’ magazine on a monthly bases, and in this months copy there is an article that hit near and dear for me! Jennifer Lewington wrote ‘Sharing Wisdom; The Power of Teacher Mentorship’. Mentoring is something near and dear to me, especially the NTIP program! This is currently my 3rd year being involved as a mentor, which extends my mentoring from, Highschool Co-op, College (Mohawk/ Fanshawe E.C.E programming), University and Student Teaching from various institutions.
Looking back at my time learning the art of teaching I had amazing educators mentoring me, which is why I give back today. The experience I had was incredible and I to this day feel that I am where I am because of all the great support I had from various people during my high school co-op, college placements, university work placements and teachers college student teaching.
I love how Ms. Lewington referred to the professional learning relationship between the ‘seasoned practitioner’, whom shared experience-infused insights with a classroom newcomer. The theme of mentoring throughout the NTIP program not only supports the newcomer, but also “Fosters an exchange of knowledge” as Lewington shared. I see the exchange of knowledge a ‘joint effort’ as a seasoned teacher now I gain so much from my mentee’s as they may from myself. I love the concept of ‘Habit of Mind’ that Lewington shared; the mindset in which I call ‘Growth Mindset’ from George Curios, in that the pwoer of educators is a collaborative process. We Educators are creators of habit; we work on a daily / weekly schedule before, during and after hours. Habitual experiences become stale and without constant learning could become detrimental to pedagogical practice!
The true power behind the NTIP program is a partnership of professional learning community. In its simplest form a partnership, but in totality is the beginning of the process for the mentee at creating, maintaining and utilizing other educators as a professional learning community. For me twitter helps me stay connected, helps me reach out for support, share successes and learning from failures.
The article within ‘Professional Speaking’ shared that; ‘Over the previous 3 year period it found new teachers experienced sustained professional growth in four very key areas; confidence, efficacy, instructional practices and commitment to continuous learning’. This is also what we try to instill within our students as well, which is ironic we are seeing this with our new teachers, therefore we must be on the right path! This also reflects the pillars within the Ethical Stands for the Teaching Profession (care, respect, trust and integrity) and the Standards for Practice for the Teaching Profession (commitment to students, leadership and professional knowledge, practice and ongoing learning). NTIP has aligned nicely with our students and new teachers alike!
Finding the right people for a professional learning network (PLN) is key. There are and will always be strengths and weaknesses in everyone, for me it is math. It is the PLN that helps support our weaknesses, which is my twitter PLN incorporates many, many math icons in the profession. They have encourage professional learning online, face to face and shared articles, reflections and resources to help reduce my weaknesses and change my mindset still to this day, 9 years after completing the NTIP program.
I recall one conversation with my mentor; Mark (whose wife I am now working with at Lakewood) said “We can always learn something everyday, we will always need to adapt and change our pedagogical practises throughout our career, stay fresh stay networked and connected” and I would hope that Mark would be proud today as I am very much still learning, very connected (3000 + on twitter, facebook, microsoft community, etc…) and always reading; much of which comes from Dave Burgess Publishing for various educational materials.
My message I share love to share is strikingly similar to my mentee’s; get networked and connected, be reflective in your practice, ask questions and take risks, don’t be afraid of failure as it is the first steps in learning. I look back on those that worked alongside me; my mentee’s (I never see things as one way either) professionally we are all equal, we are all educators whether we are teachers, educational assistants, early childhood educators or administrators……we work hard for the students walking through the school doors.
NTIP allows me to begin instilling the passion for life long learning, networking, connections, teamwork, collaboration and most of all a growth mindset into fresh faces walking into this amazing career. This is and will always be one of the most enjoyable and meaningful aspects within my career!
NTIP mentoring is something I am extremely proud to be part of….after 25+ years of teaching I would love to reflect and say not only did I make an impact with the students coming into my classroom BUT I also made an impact within the practice itself of education! My footprint will be heard, shared and passed along from my mentee’s as I have from my mentors…..and from my mentee’s, mentee’s in the future as well (at least I hope) as my message is and will always be, don’t thank me in gifts, thank me by inspiring the next generation of teachers and the students walking through your doors as I have done for my past mentors; Dennis Wright, Mark Smith, Karen Baldwin, Diane Clark and Janice Hughes and for my current mentors; my students, Brian Aspinall, Martha Jez, Derek Tangredi, Johnathon So, Lee Martins and so many more via twitter!
In closing; inspire and infuse a passion for life long learning!