This fall I will begin an independent study/inquiry under the supervision of Dr. Mary Anne Blank in the department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education, University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
The topic of inquiry is how to use 21st century skills and applications to support/enhance/facilitate Knox County Schools’ new teacher induction and mentoring program here in East Tennessee. The program, which just completed its first full year of systemwide implementation, has received resounding endorsement from participants as well as suggestions and feedback for growth and improvement in 2007-08.
What follows is a statement of the problem with questions, arranged using the classic K-W-L format.
What is Known or Agreed Upon:
- On mid-year and end-of-year program assessments, some novice teachers in special areas (such as art, music, etc.) indicated that their mentoring experience would have been more meaningful had they been matched with an experienced teacher in that same area. However, some campuses simply do not have building-level staff to support one-on-one mentoring in special areas. When mentors and novices cannot be in close proximity to one another, e-Mentoring may be a possible solution, such as the ENDAPT model used for interns and alumnae of the William and Mary teacher preparation program.
- Teachers of color have also indicated an interest in mentoring activities adjusted to meet their needs. Again, this may be a problem addressed through some sort of computer-mediated communication, such as a networked learning community that transcends classroom walls and even campus borders.
- Through my own experience as a mentor and mentoring team leader at Fulton High School, I know that our meetings were critical for successful implementation of our building-level action plan. I also recall that our busy schedules did not permit numerous after-school meetings, so we limited ourselves to monthly face-to-face sessions, which were not always sufficient for effective administration of the program on a day-to-day basis. In between meetings, we stayed connected with email. Email, however, does not afford the level of connectivity currently available through networking sites like Classroom 2.0 and TappedIn. In these online communities multiple users form special interest groups that collaborate and problem solve through threaded discussions, forums, and virtual “meeting rooms.”
What I Want to Know:
- Clearly, there is much potential for enhancing Knox County Schools’ mentoring and induction program with the integration of 21st century tools and applications. Each of the aforementioned groups might benefit from a computer-mediated intervention. Which group would be a good starting point?
- Once a focus group of mentors and/or novices is identified, what tools, applications, resources/best practices will best suit their needs?
- What issues, in terms of technical support and buy-in, have to be addressed before a viable prototype can be developed and piloted?
- What issues can be addressed through training? What will the training component look like?
- How will my own virtual professional development activities (TappedIn, Classroom 2.0, EdTechTalk, EdubloggerWorld) inform this inquiry?
What I Learned:
This section of the inquiry will become more transparent as I begin my research. Look for more installments in the coming weeks and months!