At the beginning of the year, Amy and Marinda thought it was unacceptable that there were low levels of staff morale at their school and that teachers felt there was a lack of support or appreciation for the work they were doing. Amy and Marinda knew that improving the culture of the school through developing the school’s mentoring program would help to move them towards their ‘we believe’ statement.. They believe in a school where staff are happy and feel able to work together to improve their practice, their own wellbeing, and to ultimately improve outcomes for their students.
Amy & Marinda’s Solution
The team developed a capacity-building framework called ‘The Hive’ with a focus on building staff relationships and access to support and informal mentoring. They helped ensure their school’s mentoring approach is super comprehensive – The Hive includes the following 5 initiatives.
1. Manic Mentoring Minutes. Similar in concept to professional speed-dating, the ‘ Triple M Experience ’ is designed to open pathways between professionals and to help staff gain solutions to their professional challenges. Staff come to a 20 minute afternoon session with a particular ‘How can I..?’ challenge they’re facing. Staff move into pairs and have 1 minute to ask their colleague their ‘How can I..?’ question and to get a response. After the minute is up, the discussion turns to the colleagues question for 1 minute. At the end of each round, staff move to find a new partner to seek and give advice.
2. An online Edmodo Discussion Board. An informal, ‘opt-in’ space for colleagues to share ideas, research and expertise. Many of the teachers at Marinda and Amy’s school use Edmodo already with their classes and so teachers are already on this platform daily.
3. The Who’s Who? Profile Board. An opportunity for teachers to learn about their colleagues in an informal and easily accessible manner. Displayed in the staff room, a different staff member is profiled each month with information about the areas they teach, their areas of expertise and one personal piece of information they choose to share with other staff. The aim of the Profile Board is to open up communication channels across different faculty areas as well as to introduce new staff members to the school.
4. Cheers! Board. In keeping with the school focus on acknowledging the achievements of staff, and as a complement to the current system of recognition, Amy and Marinda have created a Cheers! Board in the HT Admin office, where staff sign in. The aim of this is to encourage staff to acknowledge the little things we all do which make work a pleasant environment. The Cheers! Board is a white board where staff can write a public expression of gratitude, for example, for helping out with photocopying or for providing homemade cakes for morning tea.
5. Room with a View. The Hive participants can opt to invite other teachers into their classroom – either a specific invitation to another Hive member to illustrate a point the two had previously discussed, or an open invitation to whomever may be curious, including pre-service teachers. Participants signal their invitation by placing a Hive sign on their classroom door or window. Additionally, they can use the Online Discussion Board to notify staff members of the opportunity.
Marinda and Amy’s Impact
Marinda and Amy had immediate and very enthusiastic support from both their principal and their Head Teacher Teaching and Learning. Leadership at their school has even found them some funding and have set about ordering resources and merchandise for The Hive initiatives. (Yes – you read that correctly. Merchandise! Including some nifty ‘The Hive’ USBs.. You can never have too many USB sticks). Their principal put them in touch with their Regional Director who was so impressed that Amy and Marinda totally made it onto her Twitter feed. And after running one of the Manic Mentoring Minutes sessions the other day, their SAS Manager literally patted them on the back. Amy and Marinda were so encouraged to know that their initiatives are of value for non-teaching staff, too.
Like the idea?
Marinda and Amy would love your support for The Hive, or for you to start a similar program in your school, and they’d love to hear about any ideas you have or lend a hand where they can. Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get in touch with Amy or Marinda and we can connect you. Feel free to cheer them on in the comments below as well.
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