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Teachers shaping teachers

Nov 15, 2017
Teachers and students gather in groups mentorship
Teachers and students gather in groups mentorship

The King’s University Education program welcomed over 35 principals, teachers, and administrators to campus to connect with King’s second-year education students on Friday, September 29.

The buzzing crowd gathered snacks and hot coffee before joining each other at grouped tables. The eager smiles and shared conversation between recently met teachers and teachers-to-be filled the room with shared purpose. Before the workshop started, projected on the front wall was the African proverb, “If you want to travel fast, walk alone. If you want to travel far, walk together,” alluding to the workshop’s focus: mentorship.

Bernice Stieva, assistant professor of education who led the development of the workshop, surveyed the room with quiet joy as the participants introduced themselves and launched into shared experiences. Then Jana Haveman, manager of field services in education at King’s, opened the day by saying, “It was a bit over a year and a half ago when Bernice and I started talking about the importance of mentorship. We believe that great mentors shape great teachers.”

The project began a little over a year ago during the winter semester when many King’s education students are on their practicum and education faculty are involved in practicum supervision. Bernice, as one of the practicum supervisors, found herself in similar conversations and observations with teachers and principals across schools. The perpetual question was this: How do we equip pre-service teachers to thrive in their practicum and into their teaching careers?

This sparked conversation between Jana, Bernice, and two principal colleagues, and the initial idea for a pilot project focused on
mentorship began to take shape. They proposed a series of two half-day workshops where second-year education students, classroom teachers/mentors, principals, and faculty practicum supervisors would explore the facets of mentorship. The hope was that everyone involved in the mentoring relationship would be better equipped to mentor or be mentored during practicum placements and as new teachers transitioned into the profession.

The idea quickly spread through King’s education faculty and beyond. With support and participation from teachers, principals, and leadership in the HR department of Edmonton Public Schools, the first workshop sessions were held in the fall of 2016.

Bernice reflected on their first runthrough. “Many of the guests were impressed by the honest and insightful contributions from the education students. Two teachers from Florence Hallock School were so inspired they began a mentoring pilot at their school and invited us to join them!” Teachers and principals began contacting Bernice asking if they could attend and bring a colleague. “The response was so positive and encouraging,” Bernice said.

A year later, you wouldn’t have guessed from the packed room that this is only the second time this workshop has been offered. And interest is growing.

Last year, the Edmonton Public School Human Relations Department embraced the idea and covered the cost of substitute teachers so that several Edmonton Public teachers could attend. This year, the scope of the project expanded to invite more school districts as well as several independent Christian schools.

Bernice commented, “We’re so grateful for the support and participation of all these educational professionals. Their expertise and knowledge is invaluable, and we simply couldn’t run this project without them!” This idea has also spread to additional professional development opportunities within various school districts, as well as workshops for in-service teachers and administrators at several Christian teachers’ conventions.

Bernice is excited to see the workshops continue and grow. “We hope to further explore the significance and strength of mentoring as a signature pedagogy during pre-service preparation, but also as new teachers transition into the profession. We hope that by spending these mornings together, all members in the mentoring triad will better understand each other’s perspectives and be better equipped for the mentoring process. We hope everyone will ask, what can we learn from each other? How can we travel farther together?”

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