Monday, August 17, 2009

Mutual Mentors and Parking Lot Confessions

Cabarrus County Schools in NC recently wrapped up the technology camp we hold in the summers for teachers. It's a two day event and this year we had 450 registered attendees. (Follow camp tweets at #ccstech) The camp is not only a great professional opportunity for teachers, but also for the technology facilitators in our county that are responsible for most of the presentations throughout the two days. We work very hard in the several weeks prior to the camp to prepare presentation for the attendees and over the course of two days, some of us present as many as 9 times. It is safe to say that we are exhausted by the time it's over, but there are a few things that happen along the way that make the camp a fantastic opportunity for us as well.

During the setup process, the technology facilitators had a great chance to reconnect. We all had the summer off and hadn't seen each other in a while, so stuffing 400 bags with goodies or plugging in 40 smartboards is a great way to catch up! We had the most fun talking about everything from our summer vacations to how we'll do trainings with our staffs this year. While sitting at our opening meeting, I glanced around at some of the great people we have in our group and I realized that we are all each others' mentors. As I moved from person to person, I saw experts in Multiple Intelligences, Google apps, wikis, twitter, 21st century learning, SMART Boards, Internet Safety and more. We all bring something to the table and we all have an opportunity to learn from each other. I can't emphasize how much I believe in the importance of fostering the group relationship so we can all benefit from being mutual mentors.

Later that day, I met up with Tim Gwynn, Denise Yates and Steve Johnson in the parking lot. It had to be 95 degrees out there on the black pavement, but we were so into our conversation, the heat didn't seem to matter so much. We talked about how we need to work together and share what we're doing on a regular basis. That conversation carried over to the next day over dinner. There, I spent time with Ann Gregson, Tim Gwynn and Mo Hax where we talked about all facets of education and how technology plays a role in student learning. Over eastern style BBQ, we discussed how PLN's play a role in education and the importance of technology facilitators assisting teachers and administrators in building their networks. All of this discussion centered around a table of people building their own network over BBQ. All of us had met, a few of us even worked together, but for the most part, this was a time to get to know each other and learn how each of us fit into our own PLNs.

On the final day of the camp we had yet one more parking lot conversation. A few of us gathered again and reflected on what we had learned from the two days. We emphasized the idea discussed on that first day about sharing our knowledge. We had all seen or heard what each technology facilitator had to bring to the camp presentations and now we all wanted to see those presentations ourselves. Those of us in that parking lot group agreed that we would at least start the movement in our county to share more as a team by doing camp presentations again for all technology facilitators and working together to create some presentations. We even discussed sharing presentations with other schools. So, for example, I might go to one school to present on Second Life where someone else might come to my school to present on podcasting. This not only allows the teachers to see a new face, but allows the technology facilitator to learn something new as well!

Mutual mentorships provide an opportunity for growth. The importance of seeking out and fostering those mentorships is an important step in building a personal learning network. Who is your mutual mentor? Think about your goals as we begin the new school year. How will you foster your mutual mentorship and use it as a resource to achieve those goals?


  1. I'm really excited about this year and all that the TFs are going to bring to our county this year.

    FYI - I am lining some teachers up that want to partner with some HS classes and work collaboratively via Skype, Google Docs, etc. I can't wait!

  2. That's great! I'd love to help in those projects and I'm sure a few others would be too. I have a goal to get into the classrooms more this year and I'd love to do a project like this.