Friday, 29 September 2017

Making the Most of Being a Mentee

Personal Reflection

Timeline of milestone events in my professional life with learning both professional and personal.

This is a challenge to reflect as part of the Google Innovators Program. I have found this definitely challenging - I started and then left it for a week! It has also been very worthwhile. Somehow I do know that writing things down works for me, helps to clarify and allows ideas to settle. Somehow I keep rediscovering this as I obviously don't do it enough. Okay, I'll write it - I need to write regularly!

Milestones that affected me the most personally

Starting back teaching after a long break with children was a major milestone. I needed to gain confidence in myself as a teacher. I found my tūangawaewae (a place to stand) in a small school, a place to grow and learn. I found that as I put in the hard work, I could do the teaching, I could build relationships with learners and I could make a difference. Informal mentorship from a number of people helped me to push myself, to gain confidence and to recognise and take opportunities.

Redundancy and unemployment was a major hit to my pride. I found myself uncertain of my skills and experience and at the same time needing to sell myself to get a new job. I had to do a rethink of priorities, what I was good at, what I enjoyed, what I was suited to. I found that process hard and yet very worthwhile as I choose to rely on God and others for support and encouragement. I still needed to do the hard work of sorting out the why and what but it was done in a different way, walking with others, as part of a community.

Top professional or personal successes

One of my greatest successes was coming up with a new idea or the next step in a project. I pitched it to senior leadership and the board and then worked through the idea to completion with others. I would read what others were doing, always looking for what might work in our context. I thought about and looked for what would fit our strategic plan, our goals. It might be a small innovation that made a system more efficient or a large innovation that changed what or how we did things. I am proud of these successes as I felt I made a difference to teachers and learners as something changed that helped them.
I need to remind myself about these ways of thinking and look to do them again in my current context, with different tools yet the same outlook, the same mind-frame. The situation I am in now means that I still need to be reading and looking for ideas and I will then need to adapt these to my context. I need to put more time into this both via formal PLD opportunities and following others to see what they are thinking and doing.

Another success is to learn new things. After being made redundant, I felt to learn in depth about the then GAFE tools. I had used a few tools but only at a surface level. I dived into the level 1 GAFE exam and learnt about the apps, trying out 'new to me' ideas and ways to do use the tools. This learning played a part in getting my current role as it is based on G Suite and requires the ability to learn.

Major challenges

I find that often the major challenges and successes can be the same event, for example when I was made redundant and I had to refocus and change the way I approached life and work. The help and support I accessed allowed me to keep going and to hold on to hope. I recognised some things were out of my control but others with in my control, in fact were my responsibility. I grew through this experience and I am stronger for it. I now recognise how I can manage my feeling better in certain areas and I am clearer about when I need to talk or ask for support.

Five years ago

2012 - it seems a lifetime ago. I am different today in that I am rushing around less. I think I am more thoughtful and reflective. I was quick to action and keen to get started on something new, now I will give it a bit more time and talk to more people before I start something. In some respects I believe in myself and my abilities less  - this is not a bad thing in moderation however when it results in paralysis it is not helpful.

Assets and Liabilities

I have a wide range of experiences in teaching and leadership as well as personal strengths.
  • Teaching yr 9 - 13 in science and horticulture
  • head of department
  • marking L1 external exams
  • senior leardership experience that included primary and secondary
  • strategic planning process for a school
  • planning and implementing rolling out devices to learners
  • strong in using digital tools
  • I work well with a team
  • I am a good listener
On the liabilities sides
  • I can get stuck in a rut with my thinking and struggle to get out
  • I can get uptight thinking I don't have anything to contribute and don't contribute anything
  • I can focus on the gaps in my experience rather than the strengths


I can create barriers in my thinking. I can get anxious and get bogged down in my thinking. 
Everyone else is... , I never.... 

None of it is true, they are lies. When I am relaxed and okay I know this. 

"Why worry, you can't change the number of hairs on your head, or add one hour to your life"

I choose to believe I can do what I am aiming at through taking initiative, being bold, being humble to accept help, and being determined.

False Assumptions

I have realised as I have reflected here that I have assumed I have little to contribute to my team as my digital skills are not as long-developed as others. I have realised the skill of noting what people in other contexts are doing and reflecting on these things, joining dots and innovating, perhaps in small ways, is a practice I need to bring to the table. Others in my team are certainly doing this already however I do have something to contribute.

My Vision

I have a vision to help learners engage and succeed in secondary school. I plan to do this by bringing some of the scaffolding and ways of learning into the secondary setting.  I want to give the learners the tools and agency to be able to make the change themselves.

Mentee Skill Inventory 

High, Medium, Low
Developing Skills
Giving and receiving feedback
I find writing down feedback to reflect on later works. I do need to remember to ask clarifying questions - I often think of these later.
Self-directed learning
I find this easy
Building relationships
I need to work at this to make it happen.
I am reasonable at checking understanding. I can take some time to communicate clearly especially if I am not clear in my own head. I often need to talk something through as part of the process of clarifying my thinking.
Goal Setting
I find goal setting takes me some time and effort to work through. I can have a load of disconnected ideas and often not see how to move forward. I need to be more intentional in organising and recording my SMART goals.
Effective Listening
I am good at listening and taking in what others are saying. I do need to improve on asking clarifying questions as part of listening.
Follow through
I am generally good at following through and meeting deadlines.
I need to be more intentional about this and make it a priority to ensure it happens.
I can take initiative although I can also allow others to take the lead, sometimes when I should be leading.
Valuing Differences
I am open to exploring differences. Again I need to ask questions to ensure understanding and to explore further.

Learning Style

On this model I think I am an Accomodating learner.  I tend towards making a start on a project and learning by trial and error. 

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