Mentoring in Early Childhood Settings Pauline Harris Faculty of Education University of Wollongong email@example.com
Workshop Overview • What is mentoring? • Why implement mentoring in early childhood settings? • How is mentoring undertaken? • What makes up a mentoring program? • What are the key steps in planning a mentoring program?
What is mentoring? ‘To value the growth and development of children, we must value our own growth and development as early childhood practitioners.’ Soave & McCormick Ferguson, 2005
Workshop Activity 1 • What does mentoring mean to you? • Reflect, record and share in your group
Definitions of Mentoring ‘Not any one thing’ ‘A sharing experience and a sharing of experience’ ‘A creative friendship’ ? ‘A partnership of mutual benefit’ ‘A learning relationship’ ‘A long-term engagement whereby you are working with the same people and changing or enhancing that level of engagement over time. It is not a linear process’ ‘When two people find space in their working lives to reflect on their work and practice’
Definitions of Mentoring ‘An alliance of two people that creates a space for dialogue that results in definition, action and learning for both.’ (Rolfe-Flett, 2001) ‘Typically, it is a one-to-one relationship between a more experienced and a less experienced employee. It is based upon encouragement, constructive comments, openness, mutual trust, respect and a willingness to share.’ (Spencer, 1999) ‘What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.’ (Oliver Wendell-Holmes)
What mentoring is and is not • Mentoring is not supervision • Mentoring is not only role-modelling • Mentoring involves direct assistance of career planning and professional development through teaching, counselling, role-modelling, providing support, protecting, promoting and/or sponsoring.
Role of the Mentor • To commit themselves to the mentoring program and their mentee • Encourage exploration of ideas • Encourage risk-taking • Listen when mentee has a problem • Provide appropriate and timely advice • Provide access to appropriate skills training • Assist mentee to identify & solve problems • Help mentee to shift and broaden their perspectives • Confront negative intentions or behaviours
Role of the Mentee • Commit themselves to the mentoring program and their mentor • Take on new challenges and responsibilities • Seek and be receptive of feedback • Accept responsibility for their own growth and development • Be willing to take risks
Why implement mentoring in early childhood settings? ‘Create a collaborative learning culture where teamwork and mentoring become normal social practices [through] informed, reflective practice [that] infuses interactions and deliberations [and] by taking advantage of, rather than resisting, the natural power of complexity.’ Davis & Pratt, 2005, Early Childhood Educators
Benefits to Mentors • Develop a close working relationship with mentee • Personal growth and professional development • Different perspectives on issues • Enhanced communication and leadership skills • Deepened insights into workplace complexities • Receive public recognition • A way of making a contribution • Revitalised interest in their work • Opportunity to exert influence in an organisation
Benefits to Mentees • Personal growth and self-development plans • Support in developing and implementing targeted development activities • Enhance likelihood for success • Development of specific skills and knowledge • Deepened understanding of organisation • Expanded vision • Extended networks and support systems • Enhanced communication and interpersonal skills • Improved promotion opportunities • Enhanced status and sense of standing
Increasing ability to attract and retain talent Discovery of latent talent Improved employee commitment Enhanced motivation for managers Retaining corporate knowledge Increased organisational capacity for professional development Enhanced organisational culture and image People feeling valued through recognition of individual contributions Benefits to Organisation
Workshop Activity 2 • Reflect on the benefits of mentoring that have been presented. Which of these in particular apply to your setting? • Share and discuss with your group.
How is mentoring undertaken? “Mentoring is so much more challenging than I expected it to be. I thought I would meet my mentee, we'd become instant friends and then we'd chat about early childhood education together. It takes lots of experience and support to become a good mentor.” An early childhood educator in Klinger, 2003
One-to-one mentoring Close hierarchical relationship Expensive on time Limits matchings between mentor and mentee that can be made Provides guaranteed commitment of mentor to mentee Types of Mentoring
Types of Mentoring Mentoring hubs • Mentor working with a number of mentees at once • May work with each mentee individually and with all mentees as a group • Allows and encourages mentees to coach each other and develop significant peer relationships • Increases number of matchings that can be made • Requires a large time commitment of mentor • Difficult to guarantee equal commitment to each mentee • Mentee needs to be more self-reliant and take more responsibility for their own development
Types of Mentoring On-site mentors • Readily available for ad hoc meetings, informal shadowing and counselling • Might be difficult to identify an appropriate mentor who is more senior than the mentee but not the mentee’s immediate supervisor • The mentor usually is more senior but can also be a more experienced peer
Types of Mentoring Off-site mentors • Mentee has opportunity to see variety of ways of working management styles • Mentor is separate from mentee’s direct line manager • Mentoring must be organised and formal, removing opportunities for informal ad hoc coaching and counselling • One-site workplaces can work in co-operation with other work sites
Workshop Activity 3 • What type of mentoring do you think would best suit your early childhood workplace and team needs? Why? • Reflect, share and discuss with your group
Mentoring Functions Some perceptions of mentoring… • Fill the empty vessel • Nurture the seed • Fix up the patient • Help climb the ladder • Facilitate discovery of another’s career path
Mentoring Functions Some effective strategies… • Shadowing • Mentee follows mentor around in daily work, observing and discussing observations to identify ways to improve own performance • Trialling • Mentee chooses an idea or process and sets up a situation in which it can be piloted and reflected upon with mentor
Mentoring Functions Some effective strategies… • Job rotation • Mentee gains experience in various tasks and divisions of a workplace or organisation • Project work • Mentee becomes part of a project team set up or related to learning goals, to learn specific skills related to project and team work
Mentoring Functions Some effective strategies… • Coaching • Mentee seeks out or is matched with people with specific technical skills • Counselling • Mentor helps mentee to identify and resolve their own problems
Mentoring Functions Some effective strategies… • Visits off-site • Mentee looks at examples of good practice in other workplaces, and discusses this experience with mentor to clarify the learning and suggest improvements in their own practices • Research • Mentor provides ideas on professional reading and other professional development through manuals, videos/DVDs, workshops, conferences and so on
Workshop Activity 4 • To what extent do you have opportunity to be involved in these mentoring functions in your early childhood setting, as mentor and/or mentee? • Which of these would you like to be involved in, why, and how might you initiate such involvement? • Share and discuss with your group.
Mentoring Relationships • Trust • Honesty • Good will • Good questions • Confidentiality • Respect • Reciprocity • Encouragement • Active listening • Chemistry • Time
Phases in Developing a Mentoring Relationship Maturity Development Disengagement Initiation Redefinition (Rolfe-Flett, 2002)
What makes up a mentoring program? ‘One of the things that I've been privileged to have in my own career is some really great … mentors who have encouraged me in my work - who supported me as I took risks and stretched the boundaries to help achieve my goals, and I'd like to do the same for others.’ Anne Glover, Early Childhood Educator
Components of a Mentoring Program • Information kits about the program • Purpose • How it will work • Who will be involved • Other details • Training support and workshops
Components of a Mentoring Program • Mentoring meetings between mentor and mentee/s • Debriefing and review meetings of all mentors and mentees • Discuss achievements, challenges, questions and concerns • Networking • Opportunities to form supportive alliances and obtain information
Components of a Mentoring Program • Informal/social activities • Foster group interaction • Workbooks and journals • Provide structure and resources for the program • Newsletters • Provide information and updates and maintain interest • Evaluation • Monitor progress and evaluate program outcomes and participant feedback • Ongoing and responsive, e.g., meetings, questionnaires
Structure in a Mentoring Program Too little structure Too much structure Initial enthusiasm wanes Lack of direction Meetings are without purpose, continuity or outcome Few mentoring partnerships continue Disillusionment occurs Mentoring dismissed as fad Contrived and stilted Inhibits mentoring relationship Paperwork & reporting takes up time Management may seem like manipulation Mentoring is equated with performance appraisal (Rolfe-Flett, 2002)
Structure in a Mentoring Program Minimum of structure would include… • Overall mentoring objectives • General guidelines that include mentoring policy but leave scope for mentors and mentees to make their own arrangements • Occasional phone contact by program co-ordinator to monitor program • A short questionnaire at end of program to evaluate results (Rolfe-Flett, 2002)
Structure in a Mentoring Program Additional strategies… • Conduct a SWOT analysis with participants • Strengths • Weaknesses • Opportunities • Threats • Provide checklists, pro formae and guides and allow participants option of using them or not • Facilitate group discussions during training sessions
Workshop Activity 5 • What kind of structure would you see as feasible and desirable in your early childhood setting? • What elements would you want to include and why? • Share, record and discuss with your group
What are the key steps in planning a mentoring program? ‘Parents, children and staff are the organization’s priority… supporting its practitioners and valuing their contributions, the organization believes that the creation of a mentoring culture will increase quality and produce an excellent standard of care for children and their families. … early childhood staff is what have made, and will continue to make, the organization successful. The organization believes that their early childhood staff is the means to achieving their organization’s ends. It holds the philosophy of~ "what goes around comes around in the circle of care ". Partners in Practice: Bringing a Mentoring Culture to Life Within A Child’s World Family Child Care Services in Niagara
Research • Analyse individual and organisational needs • eg., a SWOT analysis • Identify desired outcomes • Clarify issues to be addressed • Eg., staff turnover, knowledge dissemination and uptake, communication processes, career management issues • Determine mentoring training needs • Formulate evaluation criteria
Program Design • Plan what needs to be done • Identify who will be involved • Establish what resources will be required • Create a time line • Include a communication strategy that informs all staff of the program • Develop procedures and processes for monitoring and evaluating the program
Training • Ensure mentors and mentees have the necessary skills for mentoring and being mentored • Develop shared understanding of • Their own and each other’s roles and responsibilities as mentor and mentee • Objectives and processes of the program • Access to resources and assistance • How the program is to be evaluated
Pilot • Plan and implement a small scale trial program • Monitor and evaluate the trial • Debrief participants on the evaluation and invite discussion and ways forward • Identify refinements of the pilot program for full-scale implementation
Implement the Program • Plan the mentoring program on a full scale • Launch the program • Monitor as an ongoing process • Evaluate program at its end • Manage the program’s conclusion and exit • Celebrate the program’s successes and participants’ achievements and contributions, and reflect on the challenges and ways ahead.
Workshop Activity 6 • Identify a core issue in an early childhood setting that a mentoring program could address. • Working through the planning steps that have been outlined, identify and discuss ways you could • Research • Design • Train • Pilot • Launch and fully implement and evaluate a mentoring program to address a core issue that you have identified.
Workshop Activity 6 Identify issues in an early childhood setting that a mentoring program could address. • Analyse needs: • What is the core issue that you seek to improve? • What are the related issues contributing to the core issue? • Develop objectives: • What role could mentors take in addressing the core and related issues? • What would be the objectives of the mentoring program? • Identify skills and training requirements: • What knowledge, skills and attitudes would mentors need to be effective in this role? • What training will participants need? How will it be provided? • Develop a plan and timeline • How will communication & shared understanding of the program be established? • What resources will be needed and used? How will they be obtained? • How will training be provided? • How will the program be co-ordinated, piloted , launched and evaluated?
In Closing Mentoring cannot realize its true potential if it is not an integral part of the early childhood care system. It must be seen as a thread that permeates the system and enriches all aspects of early childhood. To truly have an impact on the care provided to children in early childhood practice, mentoring must be recognized for its value by all stakeholders in the system including practitioners, child care organizations, early childhood care and education programs and funding bodies. Soave & McCormick, 2005