Peer Mentorship Program
No one is an island – this is more than a cliché for the Education Students’ Council (ESC). They’re making sure the new class of teacher candidates aren’t feeling isolated with their online classes due to COVID-19.
Instead, the ESC wants them to have a seamless transition to the Faculty.
With this goal in mind, the ESC has created the Peer Mentorship Program to ensure first-year teacher candidates are supported throughout the year from second-year teacher candidates. Support includes providing guidance to mentees, answering their questions and hosting Zoom hangout sessions, said ESC president Cheryl Fernandes.
“Due to the pandemic, many first years expressed their concerns of not being able to make friends so we thought that a great way to meet others would be to create small groups,” said Fernandes. “We did not want to let COVID-19 and online classes stop our first year Bachelor of Education students from building connections and meeting new people.”
The program is popular with 190 students involved. Initially, one second-year student was going to be paired with three to six first-year teacher candidates. However, Fernandes said the mentorship applications were so numerous, the number of mentors were doubled for each group.
All mentoring takes place online through social media and mentors check on their groups to see how first years are coping with their program.
“Mentorship is extremely important because it gives the opportunity to provide support and guidance as well as improve on leadership and communication skills, which helps with self-growth and promotes the well-being of both mentors and mentees,” said Fernandes. “There are all qualities that are important to have as a teacher.”
The mentorship program began in August when teacher candidates were sent a sign-up application. After the deadline closed, mentors and mentees were matched based on their teaching specialities while group chats on social media were created.
“We have already received great feedback from first year teacher candidates. Many have expressed that they are happy they are able to meet other students in their program especially because it is quite hard to make friends over online classes,” said Fernandes.
Word has spread throughout the Bachelor of Education program about the Peer Mentorship Program. More than 20 students have asked to join the program since the deadline closed.
The ESC also hopes the program will continue once classes resume in person.