Mentorship

Week 14 (of 38) – December 3-7, 2018

This is my first week at the university without classes in session. It’s exam week. My undergraduate students handed in their assignments at the end of last week and my graduate students are finishing up their papers to be handed in next week. I am “happy” to have scheduled my plane ticket back home for December 15th instead of December 1st. There is still much to do. I had the pleasure of collaborating with colleagues to develop comprehensive exam questions a few weeks ago and invigilated part of the comprehensive exam period last weekend. This week was spent reading these papers, marking assignments, and finalizing grades for this term. This week concluded by heading out to Vancouver with another colleague and half-a dozen students from our elementary year-one program to collaborate with faculty and teacher candidates from another small university to learn more about place-based learning “outside” of the classroom.

One theme that resonated for me throughout this week was MENTORSHIP. I don’t think that I could have managed and operated throughout my first term at the university without the support, collegiality, and expertise from my colleagues and co-workers. The learning curve was HUGE to say the least. Not only am I learning about and creating the syllabi of my courses, I am also learning about the culture of the department and university, learning about the program and policies that guide decision-making, and learning about my place at the university and what role play in enhancing the learning experiences of students at the university in addition to my learning and contribution.

It’s ironic that I’m writing about MENTORING now when WordPress has just changed or updated their platform and I’m trying to figure out to upload, rotate, and position photos into this weekly blog of learning. Truth… I have not figured it out yet. A little mentorship or guidance would be greatly appreciated right now but I’m letting that go. So, deepest apologies for the oddly positioned, unrotated photos in this blog. THANK GOODNESS FOR MENTORS. I am reminded of my dissertation. MENTORING was one of the “professional learning activities” that helped Non-Mathematics Subject Specialist Teachers (NMSST) gain subject matter content knowledge in mathematics to teach secondary mathematics. However, my study did not investigate to what extent mentorship helped these teachers, which lends itself to future research. In my dissertation, very few teachers participated in “formal mentoring” but were supported by mentors informally. I can understand this.

The strength of “the floor” at the university is MENTORSHIP. As I had the pleasure, time, and opportunity to reflect on my teaching and learning experience this term this week, I feel so grateful for the people who are my mentors. Not one relationship is a “formal mentorship” such that one person was assigned to me to help me immerse into the university and my position (like the mentor I had in my first year of teaching in K-12 schools). I have many informal mentors. I am mentored by those who have expertise and experience in the teacher education program, the school district, and graduate studies. I have many mentors on “the floor” and off the floor. I am also connected to those who work in other universities, K-12 schools, and other edu-organizations. It’s been amazing. 

My mentors either help me with the day-to-day activity of “the floor,” provide information that I need, stoke my cognitive fire, say hello, or provide encouraging words. From a slow start to the term to a huge learning curve, it is now approaching a pleasant equilibrium. This week ended with a quick trip to Vancouver with a colleague (who invited me) and a half dozen of our Elementary Year 1 Teacher Candidates. We met up with other education faculty and teacher candidates from another university at the Vancouver Library to learn about PLACE BASED LEARNING and how this would fit into teacher education programs. In collaboration with the BC Ministry of Education, Deb Kohen and Paige Fisher orchestrated this learning opportunity on the 8th floor to consider SELF, COMMUNITY, and PLACE. Our learning was recorded on a “learning stick” (see below) but also on camera to compose a 3 minute video for the Ministry. I was asked to be recorded, but declined.

We live between before and after… by revisiting our memories and revising our stories, we rewrite the past and future.

Ending my week with in Vancouver at the Vancouver Public Library with university faculty and elementary teacher candidates, I learned more about mySELF, my COMMUNITY, and my sense of PLACE. At one moment during the learning activity, I felt like I was meant to be here. Serendipity strikes again. The teacher candidates who attended this event were outstanding and shared their learning experiences with the group and provided insight to faculty on how to embed place-based learning into education. I met education faculty from the other university who are IN MY TRIBE. It was mind-blowing. From being a complete stranger to being a kindred spirit, I realized that we shared similar interests, experiences, and membership to organizations. This learning experience with teacher candidate and education faculty changed my sense of self, community, and place. 

Thank you to all those who serve as a mentor to me. I has helped me and continues to help me to transform from a school trustee, graduate student, and mathematics tutor to an assistant professor, teacher educator, and educational researcher. I have met some incredible people and every experience and conversation are shaping who I am.

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