Lana Parker and Diane Vetter are educators, mentors and researchers who have co-authored a book titled “Mentoring Each Other: Teachers Listening, Learning, and Sharing to Create More Successful Classrooms.” Lana is an Assistant Professor at the University of Windsor and Diane is a Course Director at York University.
Published by Pembroke Publishers, the book explores ways teachers can collaborate and learn from each other in both formal and informal mentoring relationships. Based on extensive experience, the book includes personal histories and experiences around important values and advocates for honest reflection and meaningful feedback. This approach to mentoring is applicable to a broad range of professional learning communities, and the increase in new teachers entering the system makes the book a much-needed resource for beginning teachers.
Here is TVO TeachOntario In Conversation with Lana Parker and DIane Vetter
1) How might we foster and sustain mentoring partnerships in the virtual space?
Strong mentoring partnerships begin and are sustained through careful relationship building and a reciprocal stance that values what both partners bring to the mentoring relationship.
Our book is organised according to key topics, with particular “Mentoring Moves” that teachers can use to: develop mentoring relationships; share knowledge and enhance skills development; and create opportunities for reciprocal learning, community-building and leadership. The book actually lends itself really well to the online environment, as different Mentoring Moves can be engaged in each online meeting.
If you are early in the relationship and you want to learn more about your partner, you can read about and access our Mentoring Move “Making Connections.” If you are further along in your relationship and want to co-learn and co-plan using new resources, you can use our Mentoring Move “Inquiring Collaboratively” to guide the planning process. Mentors and mentees who want to inquire about new practices or ideas in education can review our Mentoring Move “Opening Up Practice.”
There are 29 Mentoring Moves in the book, all of which lend themselves to face-to-face and online connections. We also offer suggestions for how to adapt some of these moves for classroom use with your students.
2) How can educators become mentors? What are the attributes and best practices that are essential in creating these partnerships?
Most educators are naturally and organically mentors. What we have discovered is that many educators serve as informal mentors in their school communities without becoming part of an official mentoring program. What we hope to do in this book is recognize all of the mentoring practices that already permeate schools, and offer formal and informal mentors some insights into particular strategies, tools and practices that can grow and deepen their impact.
Over the course of our work, mentors and mentees shared two key concerns with us: needing adequate time to meet with their partner and having access to immediately helpful tools and strategies. Our Mentoring Moves address many aspects of teacher planning, goal sharing, offering feedback and co-learning. We wanted to give educators some high impact resources that allow them to make the best use of the limited time they have.
3) In your research and inquiry, what did the mentors/mentees tell you about the ways in which these relationships supported their learning?
One of the most important findings that emerged from our research and experiences in the field is that both mentors and mentees learn from engaging in a mentoring relationship. Mentors learn to see their practice through fresh eyes. They often experiment with new ideas and tools in collaboration with their mentees. These gains are reflected in teachers’ pedagogy and have real, immediate impact in the classroom for students.
More about our guests on In Conversation With ...
Lana Parker is an Assistant Professor at the University of Windsor’s Faculty of Education. A specialist in language and literacy, Lana has taught at the elementary level and has spent several years as a Mentor Leader. Lana writes about the influence of politics on educational policy and discourse, and about the possibilities for ethically informed pedagogy. Lana lives in Toronto.
Diane Vetter is a Course Director for the Faculty of Education at York University. The author of journal articles and a popular keynote speaker, Diane’s research interests include mentoring, teacher education, and cross-curricular infusion of Indigenous perspectives, traditions, and cultures. Diane has taught in the elementary grades and served as a teacher mentor. Diane lives in Barrie, Ontario.
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