Saturday, 29 October 2011

#cpd23 Thing 11: Mentoring

So, I haven't written a cpd23 post in about three millennia.  Thing 11 has been a real stumbling block for me (even worse than Thing 10, which was quite an effort, and for the very same reasons).  Formal mentoring is a part of the CILIP Chartership process, and I've been feeling very bad about how I've neither worked on my portfolio or contacted my mentor in months and months.

Good news folks!  Before starting this post, I emailed my mentor.  Hopefully this will get me back on track with Chartership.  And with that weight off my back, I feel a little more able to voice my thoughts about mentoring more generally.

Mentoring is, I reckon, a Good Thing. But the practicalities can be difficult.  Take Chartership, for example.  There's a big list of mentors, arranged by region, and with a few details of where they work or what they're interested in.  When you start Chartership you pick one of these, meet up with them, and you both decide if you want to keep each other.  Sounds OK in principle, but in practice, I think there's a lot of picking at random(ish) (you might decide for a different sector, or an interesting workplace, but you very little about the person really), and when you meet someone for the first time it's rare to take such a dislike to them straight away that you'd do the socially awkward thing of telling them you don't think it'll work.

This isn't to say that I don't like my mentor.  But I do wonder if whether, had I been active on social media at the very start of the Charterhsip process, I might have found someone there with whom I really clicked.  And being mentored by someone you're already in contact with probably means you'll be better at riding through, or getting help in, the times when you're not getting anything done...

The crux of mentoring issue for me is probably that the informal mentoring that develops all of its own accord when you're not looking is certainly easier to maintain, and possibly more useful.  I suppose that formal mentoring is handy when there's a specific need or goal to address.  And Chartership, for me, feels so damn nebulous that the formal mentoring can feel a bit directionless: is it aimed at career progression/training and development, or is the mentor there to help you through the writing up, or what?

So all in all, I'm a bit confused.  But I've always been a difficult person to please in the realm of teacher-pupil/mentor-mentee relationships (just speak to some of my previous cello teachers!).  When it works, it *really* works, but much of the time it leaves me flat.   I should work out how to work on that... 


  1. Interesting point about your mentor being someone you're already in frequent contact with - that was definitely an element in helping me choose a mentor who is active on the same social networks I am and works predominantly online like I do (I hope to benefit from small, frequent nudges to get stuff done).

    I hope your Chartership progress picks up soon - would you be up for joining in a #chartership chat session on Twitter at some point?

  2. Thank Jo. Would certainly be up for joining #chartership chat. Is it a fixed time sort of chat, or just a use the hashtag and see who's around sort of thing?