Our Goal - Creating a Culture of Mentorship
In the Halton DSB we have deepened mentoring structures to extend entry points of support to every member of our District. The reason we have invested in mentoring is because we know and believe that the more mentors we have the greater our individual and collective success.
As the Principal of Leadership and Staff Development, one of my first steps in this role was to create a Mentoring for All Steering committee who looked at the current mentoring state of the district. Our team consists of principals, vice principals, teachers and corporate members. In looking at our structures, we decided to launch the following intentional offering: Sites of Leading and Mentorship and Coaching workshops at three levels for all members of our District.
Deprivatizing Practice via Sites of Leading
Building upon our Sites of Learning where NTIP teachers engage in classroom observation and debriefing with experienced colleagues, Sites of Leading provides experienced teachers, corporate staff as well as principals and vice principals in our Board with the opportunity to network with another member. Differentiated opportunities for job embedded supported conversations have been a powerful step in deprivatizing practice and promoting collaboration.
Hosts willing to open their doors provided a description of the focus of a half day during which others were able to register to attend. Release time was provided, and conversations encouraged. Principals and Vice Principals were offered coverage in order to be able to leave their buildings and spend time with a colleague. These experiences provided the opportunity for administrators to see and discuss areas of professional interest that supports their current or future work.
Our corporate Mentoring for All plan is developing. A new venture in this area of the Board, we have made some positive first steps into inviting members to participate in the workshops and some sites of leading. We are excited to have a go forward plan that involves extended opportunities for mentoring as well as corporate – academic partnerships.
These supports have impacted educators by promoting a collaborative culture whereby we learn, grow and succeed together as a District. Our educators are supported to take risks, ask questions and approach student learning in an innovative and purposeful way. Through the building of a shared vision in our approach to teaching, we have deepened coherence of the system goals in our Board. As a result of this collective work, we have better been able to work together to plan and design increasingly meaningful learning experiences for educators and students.
As we plan for the 2017-2018 year we look forward to growing our sites of leading more deeply across our District. Our team will evaluate the impact of the work we have done through the examination of ongoing survey data, site experiences, and participation in Mentoring for All workshops.
Some feedback from our participants:
"This was an opportunity to share with an experienced SERT the way in which she structures her time with students, forms she has developed, understanding that SIPSA priorities affect the SERT role and more. I will be entering the SERT role in September and truly appreciate this time very well spent. I was able to share a little of my own knowledge too."
"Our host did an excellent job explaining and providing insight to the strategies he uses in his own class. He provided detail to his methodology before hand and also gave us an opportunity to see his class at work. We were also able to take the opportunity to get responses from students to really get a feel as to how his classroom functions on a daily basis."
"I learned how the role fits in within the office environment and the expectations of the Senior Secretary. Not only that, but I picked up some ways of doing things that were useful and I could take back to my own role. It was and interesting and useful morning."
"I have always worked in smaller sized schools, so it was very interesting for me to see how the VP role differs in a larger school (e.g., portfolios, division of students by grade), and is the same (e.g., importance of being visible in the school and on the playground). My host was open to answering all of my questions and explaining the reasons behind certain procedures and decisions. She was also very flexible in arranging a mutually convenient date."
"I am inspired to try new things in my classroom and work with others to collaborate about these ideas."
"This opportunity confirms that mentoring networks are rich learning experiences. The discussion with my host provided a structure from which I can build, add, edit and plan moving forward to enhance a professional learning culture in my new school."
"I think this is a great idea. Its great going into different classrooms and seeing how other teachers engage in leadership in their schools."
"The relaxed feel of a small group PD was an awesome layout. We had the time to have really helpful conversations and our host was also able to get helpful feedback as well. Time was well spent compared to large group PD sessions."