March 25, 2013 § Leave a comment
For the past few years I’ve had the great experience of participating in professional learning networks. Some are online: edmodo, twitter, blogging and LinkedIn meanwhile others are face-to-face: teachmeet, local HoDs meetings, hosting visitors to our school and also mentoring partnerships. Each of the networks have provided learning experiences in a number of areas including leadership, edtech, learning science, design thinking, innovation, cognitive development, Maths teaching and learning, project based learning and government education policy. The mentoring partnerships have played a significant role in my professional learning and now I’m aiming to develop my mentoring skills so that I will be better equipped in leadership.
I’ve just finished reading a book called ‘The heart of mentoring’. The author writes that effective mentoring is authentic, engaging and trustworthy. He runs through ten principles that mentors should consider and identifies how best to operate as a reflective mentor. Some of the principles that I’ll be considering are:
Perseverance – Stoddard writes that the mentor is not the problem solver for the mentee. The mentor takes a ‘side-by-side’ approach and this means that progress will not be constant. Perseverance is required to deal with the natural ups and downs of life.
Wholistic approach – Even though mentoring partnerships normally begin in a professional capacity, there needs to be room to talk about issues of happiness, contentment, successful relationships, achievement, physical, mental and emotional well-being. These issues do have an impact on professional competency and sometimes they will require conversation and reflection.
Modeling character – Stoddard notes that effective mentors model character. The traits of honesty and integrity are not developed overnight nor are they highly valued by everyone. It’s in the stressful and demanding times that these issues of character are tested. By talking about these traits and having accountability it’s hoped that solid character can be modeled and lived out.
While I’m being mentored I think it’s helpful to have these things in mind so that I can be better equipped as I mentor others.
March 18, 2013 § Leave a comment
The mission statement for Avenues in New York City is extensive and inspirational. They have set some clear educational objectives and it was great to see the wheels in motion last week.
Our first stop was the Math classrooms. No front row, no back row, just one group and everyone is involved. Each student begins their session by writing down a question that they need help with on their whiteboard. They use the Singapore Math methodology and after chatting with students they mentioned the challenges in getting started but the high rigor they are now able to achieve as a result.
There is a strong sense that students are learning as global citizens. Each student is taking a second language from age three. The foyer screen, run by the media team, jumps from place to place around the world identifying locations, cultures and geographical highlights.
Avenues intends open up other global sites so that students can change from one school to another seamlessly. I came away with a sense that students will face great challenges in their learning at Avenues and this is precisely what they need in order to become effective global leaders.
March 16, 2013 § 1 Comment
It was a warm morning in March and I crossed Paulista Avenue to find my way to Lumiar Institute.
As Célia showed me around the site and explained the teaching and learning philosophy I could see that this was a very special place. In order to best meet the needs of students there are both Tutors and Masters that work within the school. Tutors build strong relationships with the students and help them to develop learning skills while Masters are responsible to guide students with learning experiences for specific projects.
The aspects of Lumiar that really stood out to me were:
– student democracy –
Rather than just having students take a passive approach within their school Lumiar invites them to lead and be involved with decision making. They empower students so that there is a buy-in to the all aspects of their day.
– student choice –
The students are encouraged to suggest what their current interests and passions are. Their learning is then focused around these topics. They have found that students are more engaged when they take they ownership of directing their learning.
– multi grade grouping –
Peer-to-peer mentoring and group work plays an important part in learning. All of the learning spaces within Lumiar are set up for collaboration rather than in rows facing the front.