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Monday, 7 July 2014

Mentors as Learners and Leaders - Summer Institute at UBC

Last week I attended a conference at UBC. It was 'Mentors as learners and leaders summer institute' put on by UBC and BCTF. With approx 40 other educators from across the province we shared, we learned, we listened, we planned.

I left feeling re-energized about mentorship, which has taken a bit of a hit in my district.

As a district funded program, our mentoring groups have been in place for the past 8 years. Due to budget cuts, we lost the co-ordinating position that managed the program, then faced the strike and lock-out and ended the school year with a lot of uncertainty about many things.

Despite all this, the conference went forward and was exactly what I needed to get inspired again. Now, more than ever, there is a need for mentoring of new teachers and teachers new to a position, which we continue to see more and more of with high numbers of laid off teachers.

Somethings I enjoyed at the conference that I wanted to share:

  • We had an opportunity to share what our district model was. There were five models, Coquitlam was one of the five and I had the opportunity to present to educators, while my two Coquitlam colleagues rotated through other stations to hear about their models. This was especially useful because we have used a learning team model in Coquitlam for 8 years, but are moving towards site-based model for middle school next year. It was great to learn and share what works, what doesn't and ideas to overcome challenges and maximize benefits of each model.
  • Home Groups. We had small "home groups" where we could share, brainstorm and reflect with each other about the information we were experiencing.
  • Simulation. There was an incredible simulation activity run by Laura Servage and Jaime Beck from University of Alberta. This was something I'd really like to replicate in the future with mentors.
  • Anne Phelan, UBC professor spoke to us and told such amazing stories that really brought the importance of mentoring to life.
  • Linda Farr Darling was another amazing guest speaker who taught us the importance of 'place' and consciousness of place in mentorship.
  • Carousel Activities that allowed us to delve deeper into some of the hot topics in mentoring such as stakeholders, funding, training, and so on.
Overall, it was an exciting and packed few days with colleagues from across the province. It really was exactly what I needed to be motivated again after a pretty challenging June.

Yes, it is summer 'break' however, the strike/lockout continues and September is uncertain.... but mentoring must continue and I am so excited to be a part of it all.


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