Modern Mentoring = Modern Learning

I’m always grateful my chosen profession requires me to be a reader. Working in public education we are always met with new research, blogs, books, Tweets, “innovative ideas”, and Ed Tech sales people. It’s a never-ending series of inputs that dominate our email inboxes and have required me to create a separate number to better weed through the cold calls from those who find my title on our organization’s web site and want “just a few moments” of my time to share something that is sure to change the face of public education. I love it all, but it get’s to be a lot.

The onslaught of information is all worth it though when you stumble upon something that feels like it was created just for you. I stumbled upon Modern Mentoring recently at the Round Rock Public library. A focus on organizational learning drives my work. While my job title has changed a few times over the last few years, that central focus must be the core value of any leader.

Randy Emelo connects modern mentoring with organizational learning as a whole. The word “mentoring” is so loaded and we make such a big deal out of it that it becomes intimidating. It reminds me of Drew Dudley’s TED talk about lollipop moments and how we have made leadership such a big and daunting proposition that many shy away from it. The same happens with mentoring. As Emelo points out, when we make mentoring into some “expert creates protege” relationship there is too much pressure on each participant. Look what happened with Obi-Won and Annakin.

Modern mentoring is about social learning and an egalitarian approach to communication. This thought resonated so much with my own that I unleashed my own mild Tweet storm on a Saturday morning.

As a firm believer of the 70/20/10 philosophy of professional learning, the importance of flattening communication barriers, a limiting reliance on workshop-based learning, and increasing agency for the individual in driving her or his own learning has never been more important. Some point to the learner who has changed – blame it on the millennials – but I disagree. It’s our work that drives this need for change. Our work requires flexibility where it used to require repetition. Our learning requires choice where it used to require compliance.

Emelo reminds of all of this through the lens of mentoring. All learning that lasts, learning that changes our behavior for the better, is mentoring. Pick up a copy of his book and think about your own learning – especially professionally. Where does it really happen? Do you learn from traditional hierarchical compliance-based systems – or in spite of them? Or do you learn through peer-to-peer networks, informal relationships, and by reflecting on your practice with trusted colleagues?

Are you from Round Rock ISD? Stay tuned for Moden Mentoring to be included in our upcoming organization-wide book clubs.