OCT OEEO

PS_June_2018

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35 June 2018 | Professionally Speaking mentoring for new administrators 11 years ago and currently mentors four colleagues at Ottawa's École élémentaire et secondaire publique Maurice-Lapointe, a K to12 school with the Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario. Last fall, she considered joining a study group on oral communication, a topic of professional interest, but decided instead to mentor two colleagues and then added two more. "When someone asks you to be a mentor you think of your first year as a teacher and you remember how grateful you were to have someone there for you that you could rely on," says Campeau. Typically she meets the mentored teachers informally at least three times a week, but her open-door philosophy also means they drop by her class as well. Based on her experience, she says mentors must listen to questions and con- cerns raised by young teachers and en- courage their self-reflection on practice. "What I find the hardest is that you have to be honest and constructive," she says. "It is not always easy to say or to hear, but it is the most important part." Anis Abdelkader, OCT, says Campeau's mentoring has eased the pres- sure of being a new kindergarten teacher. "It is important to talk to someone I can count on," he says, citing her willingness to share tips on report card writing and talking to parents. "She helps me when I [encounter challenges] and when I don't know how to answer parents or how to confront difficult situations." For Campeau, one reward of mentoring comes in the "aha" moment when a young teacher, despondent about an unsuccessful lesson plan, is coached to figure out fresh options for the next day's class. After one such session, she says a young teacher told her "I was going home thinking 'I am no good I can't do this. Now I can.'" Campeau says the greatest reward of mentoring shows up in the classroom. "I hope new teachers know they aren't alone when facing these challenges," she says. "I hope they can gain the confi- dence they need to be the best educator they can be, which can only be beneficial for the students." PS Veteran Durham teacher and principal Michael St. John, OCT, joined the District School Board of Niagara last year as a superintendent of education — his first supervisory officer position. A newcomer in a new job, he credits his transition to support from his director of education at the board, Niagara superintendent colleagues and a mentorship program funded by the Ministry of Education and delivered by supervisory officer associ- ations across the province. The coaching he received from Mark Joel, OCT, a retired supervisory officer from the Durham District School Board, St. John says, "was a very important influence on my transition into the role." Under the province's Board Leadership Development Strategy, introduced in 2009, new senior administrators (and senior school staff) receive formal professional develop- ment on relevant topics and regular access through the year (a second year is optional) to a seasoned supervisory officer from another board, either in person, by phone or email. Annually, about 500 new administra- tors are eligible for mentoring support. St. John had known Joel for more than 20 years. "The advice from Mark in my first year was no different than what he gave all along [in Durham]," he says. "That is, the import- ance of caring about the school commun- ities we were serving." Early on, sensing St. John's self-imposed pressure to establish structures and protocols, Joel urged him instead to focus on people, not paperwork. Investing in young board leaders pays dividends in the classroom, says Joel. "I believe that strong school leaders create strong school teachers who create strong school classrooms, which benefits students," he says. Like St. John, Laina Andrews, OCT, was in her first job as a superintendent (with responsibility for human resources and families of schools) when she joined the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board two years ago. Through the provincial supervisory officer association, she was paired with mentor Johanne Messner, OCT, a former Toronto District School Board superintendent who now is the program lead for the Supervisory Officer's Qualifications Program delivered by the Ontario Principals' Council with the Ontario Public Supervisory Officers' Association (OPSOA). In addition to attending OPSOA workshops on current topics, Andrews developed a personal learning plan that served as the basis for confidential discus- sions with her mentor, often face-to-face, on wide-ranging professional issues. "She won't give me the answers but she will say 'what are you thinking?'" says Andrews, adding that Messner shared her extensive contacts, especially those knowledgeable about human resources. "I can't imagine doing it in isolation," she says of her first months as a superintendent. Like Joel, she says mentoring a new generation of board leaders should have its greatest impact in the classroom. Tricia Verreault, OCT, joined the super- visory officer team of Conseil scolaire Viamonde after 20 years in the teaching profession — including as a principal. She jumped at the chance to join a formal mentoring program for incom- ing supervisory officers offered by the Association des gestionnaires de l'éducation franco-ontarienne. In addition to participation in formal workshops, the vice-superintendent of education was paired with a mentor for the first year or so of her new professional life. In her case, Verreault sought out someone she knew professionally: Francine Dutrisac- Sodaro, OCT, a retired supervisory officer formerly with the Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir. Over the past year, they jointly attended two days of association-sponsored workshops, met face-to-face a couple of times and talked on the phone about once a month. "She would ask me questions that made me reflect," says Verreault of the coaching assistance she received. "When you are starting out you look for answers and that is not what mentors do. They will give ideas but it is about [them] helping you use your own resources to find the answer." PASSING THE Baton

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