Mentors Learning Together

Dr. Sivan Zakai, Director of Research and Teacher Education

Imagine a professional life in which you are surrounded by supportive colleagues. Imagine a career path on which you are continually learning about new educational ideas and practices. Imagine an institutional culture that provides space for you to consider your own strengths and improve upon the areas where you need to grow as an educator. Now imagine no further, for this is the purpose of a Professional Learning Community (PLC).

A Professional Learning Community brings together a group of educators-sometimes professionals within a single institution and sometimes individuals with similar roles or goals from a variety of institutions-to learn with and from one another. McREL, the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning, defines a PLC as "a group of people sharing and critically interrogating their practice in an ongoing, reflective, collaborative, inclusive learning-oriented and growth-promoting way."

Several members of our Education faculty have committed ourselves to facilitating and participating in PLCs. Along with other educators, we meet regularly to reflect on, discuss, and interrogate our own practice in the hopes of improving our own professional lives and the professional lives of the students in our programs.

In November, the Graduate Center for Education sponsored the first meeting of a PLC focused on mentors and mentoring. A group of experienced educators who mentor MAED and MAT students at AJU (some of whom are also alumni of our programs) joined together in the first of our now monthly gatherings. As a group, we set an agenda for our meetings for the rest of the academic year. Together we decided that our PLC will focus on three areas related to mentoring:

1.      We will provide a forum for talking together about the challenges that we face as mentors, and will provide support and feedback for one another.

2.      We will learn about best practices research in mentoring, and each meeting we will study an article or book chapter that can help us learn and think about mentoring.

3.      We will learn more about what students are learning in their classes at AJU so that we can better help our mentees bridge their graduate class work and their teaching fieldwork.

As a group, we have committed to learning more about best practices in mentoring, and to providing each other support for the challenges that we face in helping both novice and experienced teachers reflect upon and improve their teaching. Our aim is that our ongoing work together will strengthen the vital support system that teachers need to succeed.

Interested in joining the Mentoring PLC? Contact szakai@aju.edu