As a coordinator or mentor with Check & Connect, have you ever asked yourself the following questions?
- How do I provide ongoing high quality professional development for mentors?
- How do I know what content to include for the mentors?
- What are other sites doing to provide ongoing professional development for their mentors?
- How can I involve mentors in creating their own professional development?
As a national Check & Connect trainer, I often discuss with site leaders the need for ongoing professional development for Check & Connect mentors. Once initial training is completed, mentors need support and feedback to ensure that implementation is occurring with fidelity. This initial training is, in fact, just the first step in providing professional development for mentors throughout the year.
Ongoing professional development for mentors is important for several reasons. First, while many mentors bring a wide variety of expertise and skill to Check & Connect, there are skills unique to the program, such as using reflective listening to facilitate problem-solving and differentiating interventions based on multiple dimensions of engagement, which require dedicated practice with feedback.
In addition, during the initial implementation when practices are not yet ingrained and automatic, mentors may find it challenging to adopt these new practices. They may be overwhelmed and not sure where they should focus their time and energy. Consequently, when mentors are stressed or unsure, they may, by default, select the familiar over the unfamiliar. This is not to say that what mentors did in the past was wrong; on the contrary, many past mentoring practices were/are effective. However, we also know that mentoring in Check & Connect looks and sounds differently, and if we want to change our practice, there has to be support.
Finally, many mentors may not be used to the “new” model of professional development. They may, in fact, be used to the “old” model of professional development, which usually consisted of two meetings: training in August and check-in in May. They may not understand why ongoing support is critical for the success of the program and the success of the students. They may also feel that ongoing professional development implies they are not good at their jobs as mentors or that their previously acquired skills are inadequate.
So, if you’re curious about providing high quality professional development for mentors, find us on Twitter on January 10, 2018 from 2-3 CT. Use the hashtag #cncchat to join the conversation. Whether you’re looking for some new ideas or you have some great ideas to share, join us!
See more about how to participate at Check & Connect Twitter Chats and mark your calendar for 1/10/18 at 2pm Central!
About the Author: Joseph Angaran is a national Check & Connect trainer at the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota and the host of Check & Connect Twitter Chats.
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