The Coordinator’s Community of Practice is a professional network of individuals from around the U.S. serving in the role of Check & Connect coordinators. Four times a year this community is invited to participate on a call related to helping coordinators implement Check & Connect with fidelity.
The topic of the first conference call of the 2015-16 school year was Professional Development. I was fortunate to be able to co-present with Susan Flores from Charlotte County, Florida. Susan provides monthly professional development for her mentors, and gave us insight as to what has been successful based on her experience. Together we shared ideas for site coordinators when providing professional development to their mentors.
We began the conversation by discussing the importance of mentors being given opportunities to learn and grow in a supportive environment, and that professional development should NOT be offered solely to fulfill mandated hours required.
Stressing the need for professional development to be meaningful and useful, we gave these general tips:
- Determine topics for professional development (seek input from mentors and use the Check & Connect self-assessment on page 128 of our Implementing with Fidelity Manual to see where improvement is needed!)
- Take care to use time wisely
- Ensure professional development is useful and relevant; not seen as punitive
- Provide dedicated time at each meeting for mentor support, including time to talk about issues, challenges and to celebrate successes
- Provide a take-a-way at each meeting that mentors can give to their mentee (this was a favorite on the call)
- Have other professionals speak about their area of expertise
- Offer various options or formats for providing professional development
- Hold “office hours” where mentors can have one-on-one time with the coordinator so they can speak candidly, whereas they may not in the whole group
- Go back to the Check & Connect Mentor Training materials and re-cover skills taught; they weren’t mentoring yet at the time of the training and these may resonate more with mentors now!
Our facilitator, Sharon Mulé, also suggested that coordinators begin professional development by going back to the four core components of Check & Connect:
- The Mentor: review what is/is not the role of the mentor
- Check: discuss the form and how it should be used
- Connect: converse about ways to build and sustain relationships
- Family Engagement: provide tools to support engaging families
If you are a current Check & Connect coordinator and would like to access this call’s recording and join future calls on topics related coordinating your Check & Connect program, sign up to join the Coordinator’s Community of Practice.
Do you have additional thoughts on providing quality professional development to your staff? Please include them in the Comments section below.
About the Author: Jana Hallas, M.Ed., is a project coordinator and member of the Check & Connect training team at the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota.
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