“The impact on teacher practice will be far greater when mentors are engaged in rigorous high-quality professional development. As a result there is a greater likelihood that the experience and outcomes for learners will improve. When we tend to the learning needs of all adults in the learning organisation, children will benefit.”
This was the thinking behind this year’s Professional Development Week – benefiting learners by tending to the learning needs of the Edufundi mentors and mentees. Over the last three years our focus has been on developing mentorship skills and mastering the Teach Like a Champion techniques, and this has given every member of the organisation an opportunity to be stretched and challenged. With a solid foundation having been laid, it was time to add the next few layers.
Responding to the needs expressed by mentees and mentors alike, we chose to focus on four critical areas – the nuts and bolts of the organisation [including the logic model], the soft skills required for effective mentoring, strategies for addressing barriers to literacy, and ways to reflect on individual professional development practices and identify specific areas in which to grow.
High expectations were set, and as usual the Edufundi team rose to the challenge. With characteristic camaraderie and spirit all participants contributed wholeheartedly to the learning and sharing process. Whether unpacking belief and value systems, scrutinising ideas for best practice or ‘playing’ with crayons and Lego, mentors and support staff alike threw themselves into every task. Judging by the final presentations and reflections, a great deal was gained by even the most experienced members of the team.
One mentor noted that they particularly liked the role plays and scenarios. “They were authentic and they spoke to many of our real-life experiences and how to handle and manage them”.
Gathering as a team is always an energising and unifying experience, so getting together for a week of learning, connecting and exploring ideas certainly made for a strong start to the new year!
“Cannot express by words how I feel about this development week. This was a good move to kick 2019 with readiness and confidence. This week gave a clear direction on what is expected from us, it has covered almost all the challenges we face in our daily mentor sessions. Most and above super empowerment” was the feedback given by one mentor.
Mentors returned to their important work equipped with new tools, refined skills and the knowledge that the learning journey will continue.