The Mentorship Project3/12/2006 09:25:00 pm
I've been working on coordinating a group of student teachers and other interested educators to act as online mentors for my class blogs. (I'm also reaching out to former students of mine who are currently enrolled in a variety of post-secondary programmes.)
The idea is that the student teachers would be able to follow a class through an entire semester and observe and participate in the evolution of the learning community. They also get to interact with a class of students for a longer term than is usually the case with their field placements. They in turn have access to, and develop an ongoing relationship with, a practicing teacher who can mentor them and answer any questions or concerns they have as they approach and finally participate in their field placements. (They might also walk away with a dynamite letter of reference and a very cool/interesting line on their resumé to bring up in a job interview.) Of course, retired or practicing teachers are also welcome to participate. I recently recieved an email from a university professor in India who might also be interested in being a mentor on my class blogs.
I'm using a "friend of a friend" (FOAF) sort of protocol to verify the appropriateness of potential mentors. All mentors are personally known to me or friends of mine. Trusted nodes on my blogroll network qualify as "friends of mine." ;-) Someone who wants to be a mentor but doesn't meet these criteria can still join the project but I screen them after they reply to an email that looks like this:
All the mentors I've lined up to participate are people that I know personally or that are well known personally to friends of mine. I'm thrilled that you're interested in participating! However, I'm sure you understand my concern for carefully screening mentors who work with my students.
How did you find The Mentorship Project blog?
Do you have a blog I can read? (please forward the address)
Are you well known to anyone on my blogroll? Who?
Are you a teacher?
Where do you work? Does your place of employment have a website where I can find out more about you, perhaps even see your picture? (Please be advised that my students DO NOT post their pictures and will not provide any information pertaining to their real identities, email addresses or any other way of contacting them other than through their class blogs.)
Why do you want to participate in this project? What you you hope to get out of it?
Is there any other information about yourself you can share that will allow me to confirm your identity and your motives for participating in this project?
I realize this may all sound like I'm giving you "a hard time," but again, I'm sure you understand my overriding concern for my students safety.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
What exactly does a blog mentor do? Well, to begin with, I envision them "living in the comments" to the blog. Comments from afar have by far the most powerful impact in terms of encouraging the students to ever greater efforts. I've been collecting blog posts that illustrate and underscore effective commenting. So far I've lined up four such posts; the first one by me. (Hey, it's my project y'know. ;-)) I've published two of them to The Mentorship Project blog. The other two will be published over the next week or so. Of course, Anne's written two of the four I've reproduced -- Master Commenter Extraordinaire that she is. ;-) Another one is taken from Lani's Blogging Ballet. (She recently included an eighth act on commenting.)