Peer-Mentoring Groups (one in each community of practice) get together face-to-face, once a month. This is a time for building relationships and learning from each other. This may include a guest speaker, depending on the group’s interest. The idea behind the professional development is that it is offered within the community of practice, where groups are meeting together over time, as opposed to a one time workshop. This allows educators the opportunity to revisit and to continue the dialogue, through future group meetings, in pairs, and through the online platforms. An important component of the peer-mentoring community of practice is the individual members’ practice of confidentiality. This is something that was discussed at the initial meetings, and participants signed confidentiality agreements. Past participants who took part in the pilot project have highlighted the importance of having a safe place to share openly about practice issues.
In addition to the monthly face-to-face group gatherings, ECE pairs have the opportunity to meet weekly, either face-to-face, online, or through the telephone. We have used a peer-mentoring model, as new Early Childhood Educators acknowledged that they had value and have things to contribute in a mentoring relationship. By using a non-hierarchical approach, we hope that learning will occur for both new and experienced Early Childhood Educators.
Each Peer-Mentoring Group has a private online platform, where members can post and engage in discussion. Facilitators post weekly inspirations and educators have the opportunity to engage with the posts, and to post their own questions, thoughts, ponderings. Educators who were part of the pilot project identified the need for a closed online platform where participants could connect whenever they have time.