Peer collaboration and mentoring opportunities exist all over Educa, opportunities that allow senior teachers to provide invaluable input during the course of every day, without being pulled off their own duties. Here are the main mentoring devices:
- Story approval
- Teacher portfolios and mentor stories
- Collaboration and commenting on stories and plans
- Appraisals and Development Plans in Educa
- Messaging, policies and template guidance
- Familiarity with goals
Story Approval and Rework Comments
While the default setting is "off," it is possible to create a flow in Educa where stories by young teachers (or perhaps teachers for whom English is not their first language) require approval by a more senior teacher.
Once you have turned on story approval, you can then select which teachers can publish without approval and who can approve the stories of other teachers. It is common for a young teacher to have multiple mentors who can review their stories -- it helps share the workload and avoids delays if someone is away. For the mentors' convenience, Educa has a "pending stories" tab, where they can go to see stories needing review.
A key part of the mentoring is the rework comments. These are particularly helpful if your centre is using our reflection boxes to tease out the learning going on and possibilities and opportunities, next steps for that child. For instance, one common challenge for a young teacher is in noticing all of the learning that is taking place -- a mentor can make suggestions, in real time.
Once a story is reworked, it can then go back to the senior teacher for approval and publishing. The comments and conversations around the rework stay with story, seen by the teacher but not the parent.
Teacher Portfolios and Mentor Stories
Every teacher in Educa has a private profile for writing reflections, inquiries and storing documents. This is where young teachers can write reflections on their practice as teachers, linking to their plans and stories as evidence of their progress.
Teachers can choose "mentors" and "peers" with whom to share their reflections. Each post they write can be private, seen by mentors only, or can include peers. Again, each of these posts have comment sections.
Managers are also able to post "mentor stories" to a teacher's portfolio, posing questions, sharing insights or imparting information or philosophies. This can be an individual or group post, where you select which teachers to include. All of these posts can be commented on, creating another place for conversation and mentoring.
Note, teacher stories can also be linked to Teacher Standardswhere applicable. This linking can be seen by mentors, opening up another line of conversation between teacher and mentor.
Collaboration and Commenting on Plans and Stories
When senior teachers work alongside younger teachers, a lot of good things happen. The young teacher sees the centre's process up close, and sees what best practice looks like.
Collaboration options allow teachers to work together on the same documents with shared edit privileges.
Appraisals, Individual Development Plans, More
Educa has a form builder section where you can create forms to support teacher development. We have a "teacher form" which can be set up to be seen or not seen by the teacher involved.
These forms are available for joint collaboration by any teacher linked.
Messaging, Templates and Guidance
Educa is your private website with a number of different sections, including a Policies section where managers can upload guidance for teachers, visible to teachers only. Our customers use this portal for lesson plan resources, thought leadership items, etc.
Our planning and forms sections have templates that can be configured to reflect your centres best practice and process. While many seasoned teachers will make their own templates, these can be a great starting point for younger teachers.
Educa also a teacher messaging feature, where teachers can share ideas and receive guidance.
Familiarity With Curriculum
Educa comes with a number of curriculum goal sets, frameworks and development milestones pre-loaded. Your centre can ask others and/or create their own. To connect a story or plan to any particular curriculum, teachers open up the curriculum inside Educa and then clicks on the relevant goals. In the course of doing this, they are constantly seeing all of the objectives and curriculum goals used by your service.
Educa as a Training Tool
These mentoring opportunities each day very quickly add up, making a real difference for young teachers. Add to this the extensive teacher portfolio section for each teacher, which in addition to reflections and inquiry has summaries of activity and connections to peers and mentors.
While Educa is about creating a community around each child, it would be fair to say that it also creates a community of support around every teacher and particularly, every new teacher.