Technology Mentoring: A Timeless Idea

First, I'd like to thank Scott for hosting me as part of my virtual tour to support The Best of Learning & Leading with Technology. You can follow the entire tour at Ed Tech Jen. To thank you for taking the time to find out a little about me and about the book, I'll be giving away a copy of the book to one lucky commenter.

Technology Mentoring

In pulling together this collection of the best articles from a five-year span of Learning & Leading with Technology, I looked for three things:

  1. Articles that were compelling to read.
  2. Articles that many of our readers responded to, nominated for the collection on The Best of L&L blog, or had included in course packets.
  3. Articles that contained ideas that transcended specific technologies or educational settings.

One article that really stood out in the technology leadership area was "Teacher to Teacher Mentoring" by Kathleen Gora and Janice Hinson. (ISTE members can read this article here.)

Gora and Hinson described a program in their school where the more-experienced technology users helped teach their fellow teachers to integrate specific technologies into their instruction. They found much better results from these mentorships than from other professional development methods they had tried in their school.

One of the nice things about this program was that it had the deep support of the principal. This was really a key component of its success, and the main reason that the program is still in effect today.

When I contacted many of the authors whose works are included in the book, they shared a different result. Some had retired, and some had moved into other educational settings where technology use was not as well supported. Those who were still teaching used many of the same pedagogical techniques, but were unable to include the technology component. Thus, the fact that the program described in this article is still active is notable.

One of the compelling points for me was that this school had taken a solid teaching truth and applied it to itself. We know that students learn a topic really well when they have to teach it to their fellow students. So it makes sense that teachers who have to train other teachers in a technology integration technique or the use of an application would learn it better than if they were just using it personally.

What about you. Have you used mentoring in your educational setting? If so, what sort of process have you used to group mentors and mentees and to assign topics of study? How do assess the effectiveness of the mentorship?

Have you taken any other tenet of effective student learning and applied it to teacher professional development or to your own professional learning? How has it worked? Have you thought about sharing that idea with other technology leaders?

About Jennifer Roland

Jennifer is a writer living in the Portland, Oregon, area. She holds bachelor’s degrees in magazine journalism and political science from the University of Oregon. Her education also focused on history, economics, linguistics, and educational policy and management. Before embarking on her freelance career, she was a staff member at ISTE. Follow Jennifer on her blog tour at http://edtechjen.com; each tour stop includes a chance to win a copy of The Best of Learning & Leading with Technology.

About The Best of Learning & Leading with Technology

ISTE’s flagship magazine, Learning & Leading with Technology, is where the organization’s members and industry experts share and discuss the latest and greatest in using technology to enhance education. This collection includes the very best articles from 2003-2008. Along with the articles as they originally appeared in the magazine, the book includes commentary and context introducing the articles as well as short essays from the original authors, who further discuss the issues and topics of their articles and how they’ve affected the ed tech world.

11 Responses to “Technology Mentoring: A Timeless Idea”

  1. “…more-experienced technology users helped teach their fellow teachers to integrate specific technologies into their instruction. They found much better results from these mentorships than from other professional development methods they had tried in their school.”

    This really resonates with the context I am in as a lowly educator pushing buttons at the building and district level. Emails, workshops and PD sessions tend to be information-driven whereas coming along side someone in a mentoring role is relationship-driven. In Fullan (2007, p. 153) Elmore said, ““Improvement is more a function of learning to do the right things in the settings where you work.” For many of us, building relationships with fellow teachers is the “right thing” because we do not influence the PD schedule. In another classic book, Diffusion of Innovations, Rogers takes a stab at this idea, too “The heart of the diffusion process consists of interpersonal network exchanges and social modeling by those individuals who have already adopted an innovation to those individuals who are influential to follow their lead” (Rogers, 2003, p. 35).

    The “interpersonal networks” Rogers speaks of are the mentoring relationships suggested in the article by Gora and Hinson. Ironically, the “answer” to system-wide change may indeed lie in the power of “one” where each person is moved along this continuum via individualized professional learning.

  2. My question is when do the teachers work together? During regularly scheduled prep times? Does the mentor get paid for giving of their time?

  3. Teacher mentoring works well in our elementary school setting. It is generally informal, but some of the best work is done when people have regular “check in” times to move things forward. Here in PNWest, I often look to http://www.fno.org and Jamie McKenzie’s take on things find support for mentoring, “real time” tech support, and articles on keeping projects real.

  4. Great questions!

    Time is one of the biggest issues for professional development in any field.

    The teacher teams agreed to meet before school every two weeks. The article reported on the first year of the program, and the principal planned to make some schedule changes that would allow the teams more time to work together.

    I don’t believe that any special monetary incentive was offered.

  5. As a future teacher, I believe technology is very important in the classroom atmosphere. In which it allows student to experience learning in other aspects away from the regular books to learn out of.

  6. Congratulations, Craig Seasholes! Yours was the comment selected by our friends at random.org.

    Please email your mailing address to jennifer@jennifer-roland.com, and I’ll get your book in the mail. I hope you enjoy it!

    Thanks to all of you who visited and especially to those who commented. I had a great time writing this post and reading your feedback.

    And, again, thanks to Scott for turning his blog over to me for a day. I appreciate it!

    Jennifer

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    […] Welcome to the new home of Jen's Writing Journey, the blog that chronicles Jennifer Roland's writing life and provides useful information for new and seasoned writers. If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed or my email updates or follow me on Twitter. Thanks for visiting!Today, my blog host is Scott McLeod. I’m talking about technology mentoring. […]

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