Wednesday 4 January 2012

New Year, New Mentor

As you can see from the title, I have a new Chartership mentor.  Unfortunately I received an email last month from my previous mentor, explaining that she was no longer able to mentor me because of her not being personally employed at the time in the information and library sector; she felt that a mentor who is currently employed within LIS would better serve me during this important time, especially as my year draws to a close with the compilation and writing of the portfolio looming.  Although inwardly I disagreed with this, believing her to be a more than satisfactory mentor not only officially since March, but since I have known her (1998), we held our final mentor/mentee meeting on Tuesday 8th December.

This was a good opportunity for me to reflect on what I have achieved so far in my chartership year and we took time to look at my PPDP, evaluating the activities and various professional training opportunities I have undertaken.  My mentor was very quick to put my mind at rest and allay my worries that I hadn't done enough!  Part of this stems from my permanent low self esteem, but also my job has been significantly changed since I began my chartership, taking on the role of Assistant Head of Sixth Form which has meant a reduction in my operational responsibilities within the LRC and leaving me with a complete strategic outlook.  Some of this issue was also discussed at length with my new mentor who quite unnervingly pinpointed this as a real turning point in my professional development; leaving my LRC, which I built up from virtually nothing (my baby) in the hands (albeit very capable ones) of the LRC Manager.  Going back to my final meeting with my mentor, who also helped me to understand that it didn't matter if my PPDP was changing; I was concerned about one or two points which although I had originally decided to focus on were not happening in the way I had planned or not happening at all as a result of curriculum changes and innovative teaching (which meant I could assume a more supportive role, rather than the more direct one I had initially thought to take)  All in all a very reassuring meeting which set me up nicely for a meeting with my new mentor during the Christmas period.  What was even more pleasing and reassuring is that my previous mentor has since found a professional library post in the FE sector and so I will still be able to work with her, collaborating on LIS in post 16 education, although I will be staying with my new mentor until I charter!

My first meeting with my new mentor was unnerving (she is the Chartership Support officer for Devon and Cornwall CDG), but extremely productive in terms of beginning to focus on my portfolio.  The general premise of my chartership is that of digitial technology, including Web 2.0 and its role in teaching and learning (as I am based in a secondary school), although I am also looking at its use in the wider context of the LIS world (this is an element of my chartership which has been highlighted as needing a bit more of a focus). A pertinent point also to make is that it was through my enhanced use of web 2.0 technologies that I met my new mentor in the first place via Twitter and a CPD23 meet up.  As previously stated, my new mentor wasted no time in identifying those areas I needed to prioritise as well as successfully pinpointing a continuing area of unease regarding my new job description and its impact on my LIS role.  I am now able to see how a strategic role can still retain elements of operational management, without me actually having to participate in the LRC's nitty gritty role of issuing books; an example given to me by my mentor was that of project management, in particular concerning the introduction, implementation and evaluation of Ipads and Kindles in the LRC which is incidentally part of my PPDP.  In addition, I was given two areas to focus on:

1) Using a contents page template which was used by my mentor as part of her portfolio, begin to identify five pieces of evidence for each of the four criteria assessed.  Write up each bit of evidence with a brief overview of what you did and the impact it has had on your professional development.
2) Focus on critera 4 - breadth of professional knowledge and an understanding of the wider profession.  My mentor acknowledged my understanding of the library and information profession within schools as well as wider educational issues, but quite correctly suggested that my understanding of LIS outside schools was definitely an area to work on.  My new involvement (albeit a small one) with the merger of CILIP SW, Cornwall, Devon and Westcountry CDG groups can help here as can my following such public library defenders as Voices for the Library.  In addition I am keen to compare digitial technologies in both UK and US schools. 

Altogether, two very insightful and relevant meetings with both my mentors (old and new) and a great way to start the new year.

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