Thursday, December 18, 2008

Personal Mentors

One of the things I love to do (and always pray that it works) when I teach about PLNs is to call out to the audience and got to their favorite website, find the RSS feed and subscribe to it in my Google Reader. It is a neat little "parlor trick", but it really does illustrate how fast and easy this is. One of the byproducts of this demo is the fact that I end up with new subscriptions in my RSS feed. Now not everything in my Google Reader pertains to education (shocking I know), but I have good deal of blogs on Art & Quilting as well as on Technology. I've been a Boing Boing fan for years, but recently (thanks to a volunteering audience member) I was turned onto Lifehacker. Lifehacker is not just technology based (just like Boing Boing isn't), and I recently came across a great article on Professional Development How to Get the Right People on Your Team.

When you get that urge to start making some changes in your professional life, do yourself a favor and build in a network of support. If you’re not ready to hire a professional coach, then get yourself someone who will help keep you accountable to set and hold to your new goals. This new model of peer-to-peer coaching is priceless

The article is about building a support network for professional growth - sounds like a Personal Learning Network to me!

It even starts with creating a Mind Map (my how educational of you), of the people that influence you. Dream big and add those authors that influence how you think of things, and practical by remembering those that help you everyday.

But it gets better - see this as a peer-to-peer personalized coaching program. You each take turns being a "mentor" to each other. See Womack's checklist:

  • Create your inventory of names of people to work with
  • Ask people until you find someone who’s excited to work with you
  • Write down three to ten questions you want to be asked each session
  • Create a schedule: what day/time you’ll talk and how long each session is (ie, how many weeks/months per person)
  • Get your technology in place: sign up for Skype or create a speed dial entry on your cellphone
  • Organize a place to track results: create a folder, spreadsheet, or even an online survey
  • Dream big. Imagine the life you’d like to be living and design the questions that will guide you to making that your reality.
I hope to get my mind map up here soon. This reminds me so much of the mentoring process I experienced as a first-year teacher by one of my favorite people in the world - Susan Lobasso. I would never have survived without that support, and why can't I have it all the time!

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