“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.”
― Robert Frost
At the close of the school year, it is important to reflect on the months gone by: the challenging, the good, and the great. I’ve been reflecting on AISL’s first Mentor Program and I asked the mentor partners to share their reflections as well.
However, I need to begin at the beginning with a big Thank You from the AISL Board to those who took a chance on this first year of mentoring with AISL. In last year’s AISL Members Survey, it became clear that AISL members were interested in a program that would help new and experienced librarians who were facing a challenge or needed coaching to achieve a professional goal. As a result, we developed a program that paired librarians to work together on specific goals and challenges. The results of the program were mixed and gave us a lot of great information to use in the program’s improvement for next year. We are excited for year two if the AISL Mentor Program.
Following are some of the survey results, as reported by about half of the Mentor Program participants:
- 57% felt that they were well matched with their partners
- 70% of partners used email to communicate
- 33% communicated with their partners sporadically
- 44% communicated only a few times over the course of the program
- 37% created action plans
- 62% of mentor partners communicated informally, sharing goals, experiences, advice, and ideas
- 66% of respondents recommended that next year the program have more structure
Here are some of the great things we heard about the experience of working with a mentor partner:
- meeting someone new
- having benefited from some wonderful mentoring, I was grateful for an opportunity to ‘pass it on’
- feeling that I had something to contribute
- being encouraged to stay on task
- making a new professional friend
- bouncing ideas off of someone outside my school
- hearing about someone’s progress towards goals
Here are some suggestions for improvement:
- more structure
- offer tools for creating a concrete action plan
- send mentor partners powerful questions & challenges every month
- create a hashtag for partners to share experiences
- create a gathering for mentor partners at the AISL conference
Well, AISL Mentor Program partners, we are listening! Your comments are essential to the development of our mentoring initiative.
As the organizer of the Mentor Program, the feedback on the survey resonated with me. There were clear indications that the free-for-all format of the program was a little too loosey-goosey for many. It can be hard enough to get all of our work done in our libraries every day, let alone prioritizing a program with no set structure or deadline. One participant bravely admitted that she had “failure to launch” and it was related to the open nature of the program.
Ideas for next year’s AISL Mentor Program are currently bouncing back and forth between myself and Kate Patin, the new Board-Member-at-Large and incoming facilitator of the Mentor Program. We are talking about ways to create a structured program that is balanced with plenty of free-form space for partners to work together to meet goals. There may also be new ways for members to connect around specific issues. Stay tuned for more opportunities to help us help you through the AISL Mentor Program. Your participation and ideas are vital to the growth of this new program.