Director of Professional Learning

Loreto Normanhurst is a place where great learning takes place – not just amongst the students, but amongst the staff too, whether they be Teachers or Support and Operations staff. One aspect of Professional Learning is our mentoring program, which takes its cue from the Student and Advisor Conversations – a key element of the Loreto Normanhurst Student Growth Model.

A mentor program helps to promote a positive learning culture where staff members seek professional advice from colleagues, are open to feedback and take personal responsibility for improving their expertise. It provides a mechanism whereby tacit knowledge can be made explicit. It is based on the belief that all staff are lifelong learners who have the capacity to grow and are seeking to improve their professional practice; that we are all flawed, but we all desire to grow. The principles of Ignatian Pedagogy are evident as staff reflect on their practice and how they demonstrate school values and social responsibility. The program helps to build a strong professional, collaborative culture dedicated to improving work practices and, for teachers, improving student outcomes.

The mentor may encourage the person to develop their practice by including new and innovative approaches, guiding them to reflect on their current practice and share their experiences in a supportive, collegial environment. He or she can increase the mentee’s awareness of the opportunities for professional growth, and assist them to find their own style and confidence.

Traditionally teaching has been a lonely profession, with the teacher’s work being conducted behind closed doors. Mentoring is a means by which teachers can reduce their isolation and collaborate to support professional learning. Classroom observation is an essential component of the mentoring relationship, and feedback is highly valued. Reflecting on our own practice is important, but only allows us to measure our intent. We need feedback from external sources if we are to become aware of our impact. Mentoring also provides a natural opportunity for teachers to engage with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

For the Support and Operations Staff, mentoring can promote a greater sense of connection to the community. It also provides an opportunity for staff members to benefit from the experience and expertise of those who work in other areas of the organisation.

As a component of an induction program, mentoring offers support to new staff members. This is a powerful vehicle for developing the new staff member’s sense of belonging to the community and helps them develop an awareness of the values, culture and priorities of the organisation. At Loreto Normanhurst all new staff members are allocated a mentor, and mentors are also available to some other staff. We hope to continue to expand the program to include as many staff members as possible in the future.

 

Ms Carol  Osborne

Director of Professional Learning