EDTC 400 is designed to help future educators develop their Personal Learning Networks (PLN’s) and as part of the course, my EDTC 400 peers and I had the opportunity to practice our “teaching skills” related to technology by mentoring EDTC 300 students over the course of the semester. The task required us to provide constructive comments on their blog posts to offer them support and guidance with the technical aspects and engage with them in content related conversations. We were also expected to interact with them via other course platforms including Slack and Twitter to help them begin building their own PLN’s. Over the course of the semester, I tracked my interactions with my mentees and it has been awesome looking back on the progress and growth that both my mentees and myself experienced throughout the semester.
After first hearing about the mentoring component of the course, I was hesitant about having to support other university students, especially those who were further into the program than myself. It sounded like a huge responsibility and I was weary that I had forgotten what I learned in EDTC 300 (thank goodness for documented learning and being able to reference my blog posts) and would not be able to benefit them in any way or provide helpful advice. Thankfully, I knew these negative thoughts were problematic and that if I kept a positive attitude about being an online mentee that it would be a good opportunity to become more comfortable with teaching roles. Being a mentor allowed me to connect with other educators and expand upon my Educational Technology knowledge from various perspectives making it a rewarding experience. The mentoring experience through online means was new to me but I believe that it benefited both myself and my mentees making it an advantageous opportunity for us on our journey to becoming educators.
Meet my Mentees
I was partnered up with three creative EDTC 300 students who persevered throughout the semester and were able to combat their technology fears of Twitter, Zoom, and blogging.
Mr. Parker McCormick is a second-year student in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina in the middle years program. He began this semester brand new to the blogging world but picked up very fast and began creating an organized online space to present his learnings. For his learning project, he committed himself to learning French and consistently amazed me with his attention to detail and dedication to truly understanding what he was learning rather than memorizing it simply for the assignment. Parker also became active on his Twitter account and appeared slightly hesitant to post his own tweets but I noticed him engaging with his ed-tech peers often. Bonne chance Parker!
Mr. Jonah Norman-Gray is finishing the final semester of his education degree and looking forward to convocating in June and beginning his teaching career. Jonah decided to learn magic for his learning project and kept his mentors and classmates very entertained with his new tricks and progress throughout the semester. He challenged himself to present his learnings in multiple different forms making his blog site engaging for his readers and hopefully provided him with beneficial experience to take with him to his classroom. Jonah also impressed me by adding creativity and humor to his twitter posts. Congratulations on finishing your degree Jonah, your future students will be lucky to have you!
Last but not least, I followed along Miss. Shyla Forshaug‘s EDTC 300 learning journey. Shyla is also finishing up her fourth year in the education program with hopes to teach elementary students in the near future. For her learning project, Shyla tackled the tedious role of learning to sew and despite having various difficulties, I believe she learned a lot and gained valuable experience that she will continue to reflect and expand on. Out of my three mentees, Shyla appeared to be the most hesitant to become active on Twitter and expressed fears of participating in Twitter chats but today you would never know. She has personalized her twitter account and is often sharing wonderful educational technology resources. Congratulations Shyla, and all the best to you in your future as an educator!
Reflecting on my Experience
Being a mentor was a rewarding experience and the multitudes of learning that I walk away with impressed me especially since I was initially hesitant towards the assignment. As a mentor, I was able to practice providing constructive advice which is something I believe we can all do more of as future educators. Often I find myself keeping some of my thoughts reserved to avoid offending others but as a mentor, it was important for me to provide my mentees with advice that would help them do their best in the class which required me to be critical. I also was able to firsthand see how just as students will learn from their teachers, educators themselves will learn from their students. My mentees opened my eyes to new perspectives and ways of thinking about education and incorporating technology into the classroom. They also shared many resources, tools, apps, and websites that I look forward to referencing in my future and utilizing in my future classrooms. The relationships I built with my mentees were mutually beneficial and that makes me look forward to building bonds with my future students that will allow us to learn together.
The process of mentoring also provided some challenges that required me to grow as an educator to overcome them. Firstly, I had to tackle my internal worries and fears. When I found out that two of my mentees were in their final semester of there education degrees, I thought there was no way that I would be able to provide them with valuable advice. Fortunately, staying positive and reminding myself that I already had learned the content that they would be exploring helped me to realize that my prior knowledge and experiences would be beneficial to them and that they did not require a master of the subject. Simply having someone to provide support and encouragement in our lives can go a long way and I was able to be that for my mentees. Secondly, I was challenged by having to strictly rely on online interactions and never had the privilege of meeting my mentees face to face. This was troublesome because I only knew them for what they shared about themselves online and had to remind myself that they have lives outside of EDTC 300. This connects to the third challenging component which occurred when my mentees were late with posting their blogs. I became concerned when there was no new content for me to comment on but I had to remind myself that it was my job to support and encourage them rather than to step on their toes. It was challenging for me to have to rely on others to post their work before I could make contributions to their learning and fulfill my responsibilities as a mentor but I think this challenge will always exist as an educator and thus I am glad I was able to experience it as a preservice educator. As an educator, I have to accept that there will be times that students will fall behind on there work and that it will be my responsibility to provide guidance and suggestions to help keep them on track. The mentoring process had its challenges but I believe that by being present and open about it, both my mentees and myself gained valuable knowledge from the experience.
Through my EDTC 300 and 400 experiences, I have learned the importance of interacting with my fellow educators. Learning alongside each other allows us to see ideas from various perspectives, challenge one another, celebrate each other’s victories and encourage one another through difficulties. By using #edtc300 I was able to engage with the entire EDTC 300 class rather than just my personal mentees and further expand my PLN. I am grateful for all of the relationships that I built this semester and I look forward to continuing to interact with my EDTC peers so that we can all become the best teachers that we can be. I am honored to be part of the EDTC 2019 team of teachers and wish you all the best in your future endeavors.