This semester of EDTC 400 has been one of the most challenging, though-provoking and enjoyable experiences of my University career. Not only have I learnt so much about the EdTech world, but I have also learnt a lot about myself as a future educator. One of the main components of EDTC 400 that added to my learning and development was the mentorship, in which I was given the opportunity to mentor 3 fantastic future educators throughout their EDTC 300 journeys. To be completely honest, the idea of mentoring other University students was something that initially terrified me! When I first learnt that I would be responsible to supporting other individuals as they began to develop their PLN’s, I felt as if I had the weight of the world suddenly placed on my shoulders. I began to question myself, worrying that I was not nearly knowledgable enough with regards to technology to be able to assist others. I have never labelled myself as a “tech-savy” individual and because of this I thought that I was ill-fit for this mentorship role. After all, how could I teach others about how to use technology when I still had so much to learn for myself? These thoughts and questions caused a lot of stress and worrying leading up to the point in which I was assigned my mentees. I had some time to give the idea of being a mentor some more thought and I decided that if nothing else, I would walk into this experience with a positive attitude, and boy am I glad that I did! Not only did this mentorship experience allow for me to connect with and support other educators, but it also allowed for me to share and expand upon the knowledge that I had gained from my EDTC 300 and EDTC 400 experiences, and learn more about myself and whether or not teaching through technology was something I thought I could handle!
My Magnificent Mentees
Before I get into my role as a mentor and the ways in which I feel that I was able to contribute to the learning of others, I would like to first introduce my mentees and share a little bit about their journeys this semester! I was partnered up with 3 wonderful ladies to mentor throughout the semester, each of whom were at a different stage in their programs. I would now like to take this time to introduce each of my mentees, explore some of the interactions we had over the semester, and highlight the many ways in which they amazed me with their hard work, dedication, and talent, all while contributing to the development of their PLN’s!
- Miss Brooklyn Mantai is a middle years education student studying and the U of R who I was honoured to get to mentor this semester! For her learning project, Brooklyn decided that she would teach herself sign language, which I found to be extremely ambitious and inspirational. One of the main reasons that pushed Brooklyn to choose this topic of study for her learning project was because she thought that it would be beneficial for her job, in which she works at a First Years Learning Center with young children who are still developing their language skills. This really showed Brooklyn’s passion for education and her commitment to her future as an educator! Through following Brooklyn’s sign language journey, I saw so much growth in terms of her signing, but also her confidence! In her earlier blog entries, she was more reserved and not always sure of herself. As she progressed through the semester, she became a lot more confident in herself and her tech abilities and this was shown in her blog posts, as she started to incorporate more resources, links, and even video components that showed her signing! Brooklyn also had a very positive presence on Twitter, sharing inspirational quotes, articles and resources with her followers! She also incorporated a lot of her classroom experience into her Twitter activity, which allowed for some really fantastic discussions! When it came to mentoring Brooklyn, I felt as if I was learning so much from her, especially with regards to her learning project! I made sure to comment on all of her learning project posts, as I felt like I was taking part in her journey with her! These comments of mine focused on providing encouragement, asking questions, and providing constructive feedback! I also worked to bridge Brooklyn’s blog and Twitter activity by sharing her progress with my followers as well! Please don’t hesitate to check out Brooklyn’s blog here or follow her on twitter! Here are some of the major comments, tweets and interactions I shared with Brooklyn throughout the semester:
2. Miss Maytlind Mallo is in her final semester of her middle years education program at the U of R, meaning she is so close to becoming an educator! Well I was initially nervous to mentor someone who is further along in the program than I am, Maytlind was an absolute joy to interact with! Maytlind was extremely active on Twitter, sharing great articles, resources, and personal thoughts and questions. The two of us engaged in countless conversations, which really helped with forming a strong relationship between the us! In addition to being active on Twitter, Maytlind also wrote some fabulous blog posts! For her learning project, she chose to explore the world of painting and ended up blowing my mind with her natural talent! I found it hard to believe that she had not been painting for years prior because her artwork was beautifully done! She also shared some really fantastic resources that I have bookmarked to use in the future with my students when we work on art projects! My mentor role with Maytlind focused a lot on providing my opinions when she asked and also encouraging her to explore different ways of showcasing and documenting her work! This was something that she definitely grew with throughout the semester, as she went from text only posts, to incorporating pictures, to eventually creating her own videos! I loved seeing her explore different technological tools and find what she was comfortable using, as well as having her step outside of her comfort zone to try some new approaches! All in all, I can say with great certainty that Maytlind is an extremely talented individual who shows a passion for learning and teaching! I definitely recommend checking out her blog and following her on twitter as she prepares to embark on this next chapter of her journey!
3. Miss Danica Fehr is my third mentee that I have had the pleasure of working with throughout this semester. I can honestly say that without even meeting Danica that I know she is an extremely kind, caring and dedicated future educator. Her Twitter activity is one example of the many ways in which she goes above and beyond to contribute not only to her own learning, but to others as well! Danica shared so many amazing resources throughout the semester, tweeted many of her classmates, and took part in several twitter chats to expand her PLN! Danica was also very open to connecting with me and asking me any questions she had, which made my job as a mentor so much easier! I felt like we truly developed a great relationship, one that will not end when our EDTC journeys come to a close! For her learning project, Danica took on the task of learning to play the banjo, in which she intricately documented her triumphs and pitfalls, as well as her overall growth. Danica’s bright personality came through on all of her online platforms, but looking back at where she started and where she ended off, I can see so much growth in her comfort level with technology. She utilized text, video, and even polls to add to her blog posts and connect with her readers. I would often leave comments or share Danica’s work on twitter, which she was always welcoming of and showed that she truly wanted to improve through interacting with others! Go check out Danica’s journey on her blog and give her a follow on twitter, as I know you will not regret it! Here are some of the major interactions shared between Danica and myself:
My Role & Responsibilities as mentor
Throughout the entire semester, I was responsible for checking in with my mentees on a regular basis to help and support them in any ways that I could! I was able to connect with my mentees using 3 primary platforms, including the Slack Community, their WordPress blogs, and Twitter! I will now take a closer look at how my mentees and I were able to connect and support each other through each of these platforms!
The Slack Community: While I was new to the Slack Community this semester, I found it to be very similar to the Google Community platform that I used in EDTC 300, so it was easy to quickly connect with my classmates and mentees! I started off by sending out a group message to introduce myself to all of my mentees and ensure that they knew that I was always willing to lend a hand, provide my input, or share my knowledge with them whenever they needed it! I also took this opportunity to provide some advice for approaching their semester of EDTC 300, such as ensuring that they stay on track with their blog posts and choose a learning project that really interests them and would be something they would enjoy doing! I was extremely happy to hear back from all of my mentees right away, as they seemed very eager to start EDTC 300 and told me that they were happy to have someone to help guide them!
Over the February break, I decided to send another group message out to my mentees to do a bit of a mid-semester check-in! Although I had been interacting with each of them weekly through all of the different platforms we used, I wanted to share some general advice and recommendations that I had for them moving into the second half of the semester! This is where I encouraged them to really dive into the world of twitter and take part in some education chats, as I found them to be very beneficial. I also commended them for keeping up with their blog posts and tweeting, encouraging them to stay on track as the semester gets busier! Finally, I decided to share with them a few of the different websites and blogs that I found to be very useful for educators! As per all of my interactions with my mentees, I closed off by wishing them the best of luck and making sure they knew that they could also count on me to help them and if I didn’t have the answer I would help them find someone who did!
This past week was my final group message to my mentees, in which I decided to thank them for the amazing experiences they provided me with! I told them all about how much I was able to see them grow as educators and individuals over the course of the semester! This was when I as a mentor really saw everything come together, especially when reflecting back on the first group message I sent in comparison to the last! Even though the semester has come to an end, I did my best to let my mentees know that I hope they continue contributing to their PLN’s in meaningful ways and that I would love to stay in touch with them as we continue on our journeys towards becoming educators!
The Blogging Community: Each week, my mentees were assigned 2 blog posts, one that was based on their weekly class discussions and one about their learning projects! My responsibilities here involves following along with their posting and providing comments, feedback and advice. This involved supporting my mentees in writing blog posts that were dynamic, well formatted, and showed their personalities! One of the major pieces of advice that I provided my mentees with regards to their blogging throughout the semester was to mix things up by incorporated images, videos, links, polls, slideshows, or any other tech components that would add to their posts and take them to the next level. I began the semester by focusing on commenting on each of my mentee’s learning project posts. Since each of my mentees only posted one learning project post per week, I made it my goal to comment on each of them. This commenting ranged from providing advice and guidance, to sharing resources, or simply being a motivational figure! Each of my mentees chose learning projects that I was not experienced in, so I often found myself learning more from them than I felt I could ever teach them. Nonetheless, I felt that it was important to provide that encouragement when and where I could, as I know that I experienced moments of doubt during my learning project and the helpful comments of others really pushed me forward! As the semester wore on, I began to comment on more of my mentees blog posts than just their learning project ones. Since EDTC 300 was fresh in my mind from this past spring semester, I recognized many of the assigned post topics they had and found myself experiencing some flashbacks that motivated me to check out my previous blog posts from EDTC 300. I then used my experiences to contribute to my mentees posts by sharing different resources that I found throughout the semester and simply engaging in conversations about what they were learning, what was confusing them, and how they were working around said confusion! Overall, the blogs were the perfect place that allowed for me to really individualize my mentor approach to fit the different personalities and needs of all my mentees, while also learning from them in the process. Here are just a few of my blogging interactions:
The Twitter Community: The third major platform that I was able to utilize in supporting my mentees was Twitter. Most of my mentees were relatively new to the twitterverse or had very little experience with it. As I previously indicated in my Slack messages to my mentees, I did my best to provide as much advice as I could when it came to twitter, such as ensuring they were following other educators, sharing their ideas and resources, and expanding their PLN’s by taking part in twitter chats. This point about the twitter chats definitely caused some worry among my mentees, which I could relate to very closely! I was so nervous to take part in twitter chats during EDTC 300, but I have now fallen in love with them, participating in at least 2 a week! This comfort level came with experience so I did not expect my mentees to jump on board right away, but I did see them take part in a few chats, some of which I was actually in as well! I loved seeing them share their ideas and interact with other educators, making me a very proud mentor! Twitter was also one of the platforms that I used to draw attention to my mentees and their blogs. I did a lot of retweeting when they shared tweets about their learning projects, urging other to show them some support and check out their progress! I also made sure that I was tweeting in ways that were very accessible to my mentees, in which I used the #EDTC300 whenever possible so that they could easily locate my tweets! Some of my mentees became huge fans of Twitter, tweeting multiple times a day and often times retweeting what their peers and other educators had to share! It was so great to see their tweeting and follower numbers increase throughout the semester as they formed new relationships and expanded their PLN’s! Check out a few of my tweets directed towards and shared with my mentees:
FInal Reflections on My experience
While I started this semester off feeling absolutely unprepared to take on the responsibility of mentoring other EDTC 300 students, my feelings have changed completely! My initial fears revolved around not knowing what to say or how to support my mentees as they progressed through the semester. I was worried that I would come across as too bossy or too reserved, never being able to find that balance. However, as I started to write this first message to my mentees, these fears seemed so silly to have. The moment I began working with my mentees, I was really surprised to see just how much I had to share and how easily the conversation flowed! I was also happy to see how quickly my mentees responded to me, showing that they were excited to have my support! This is when my feelings shifted from nervousness and doubt to excitement, as I realized that this was an amazing opportunity to support others, while also having their support in return and to learn more about myself as an educator.
Although I may have been the one who took on the role of mentor, I cannot believe how much I learnt from my mentees! I did not expect to walk out of this mentorship experience with having gained so much from the amazing individuals that I worked with! They introduced me to so many amazing websites, tools, apps and resources that I cannot wait to use in my classroom someday! My mentees also opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and approaching education and blogging through the ways in which they individualized their experiences! Overall, I think that this mentor-mentee relationship was equally beneficial to all of us. Was it challenging? Of course! I cannot tell you how many times I felt as if I was not knowledgable enough on their learning project topics to provide input or how many times I caught myself scrambling to find something helpful to share. The fact that two of my mentees were older than me and further along in the program also added to my nervousness and self-doubt, as I was concerned that I could not support them in the ways that they deserved! However, by addressing these concerns of mine and keeping a positive attitude, I was able to shake off that self-doubt and focus on giving my mentees everything that I had! They also made my job so much easier by staying on track and being extremely active online! At the end of this semester, I can say with certainty that the mentoring was my absolute favourite component of EDTC 400!
Looking back at the semester as a whole, I feel as if I contributed to the learning and development of my mentees in several ways. In turn, I have also learnt a lot about myself as a future educator and just how capable I am when it comes to supporting the learning of others! One interesting thing that I noticed was that I took a slightly different approach to mentoring each of my mentees. For one of my mentees, the majority of our interactions were through twitter, while my other mentees were more active on their blogs and the comment sections there. This really taught me how there is no one single right way to be a mentor, teach, and support others! It’s important to always provide this support and guidance, but that does not mean that the guidance has to look the same for everyone, as all learners are unique! This is a valuable lesson that I have learnt and feel it will definitely be something I keep in mind as I progress towards my future as an educator. Another surprising take away that I had from this mentoring experience was finding out just how much I myself have learnt about technology! As I stated earlier, I have never considered myself to be a very “tech-savy” person so I never actually realized how much I have grown in the past few semesters! I was able to recommend resources to my mentees, give them twitter and blogging tips, and help them with navigating different websites, something I never imagined myself being able to do at this stage in my education career! This really instilled with me a sense of self-confidence that I have been looking for and will benefit me as I progress through my program and become an educator! Even more so, I have come to see that I am capable of teaching through and with technology! I have not taken very many online courses before, but with the limited experience I do have, I never thought that I would be able to teach that way! To my surprise, I did just that throughout this semester with my wonderful mentees! I would definitely be open to trying out online courses in the future, as I have been introduced to so many possibilities that they provide for both the learners and the teachers!
Although I provided a small look into the interactions I shared with my mentees on the different online communities that we were involved in, you can find a log of all my mentoring here!
I would like to thank my mentees for being absolutely fantastic to work with and I cannot wait to keep the relationships we have formed going! Don’t forget to follow all of my mentees on twitter and check out their blogs!
Miss Lauren Sauser