To support skills development of the Training and Adult Education (TAE) community in Singapore, the Institute for Adult Learning (IAL) introduced a new AE Mentors programme for Adult Education Network members in December last year.
The Adult Education (AE) Mentors programme is set up to provide TAE practitioners with opportunities to participate in actual projects to accumulate practical work experience, under the mentorship of experienced AE Professionals. The mentors, who are Specialist Adult Educators of the Adult Education Professionalisation (AEP) initiative, are established pioneers in the field and have been exclusively invited to participate in the programme. It allows these AE Mentors to share their knowledge and skills, and provide relevant feedback to the mentees for their learning and development anchored on TAE assignments.
Since its inception, the AE Mentors programme has received promising feedback. We spoke to three pairs of mentors and mentees to find out about their experience and how they have benefitted from it.
AT: I count myself fortunate to be involved in the early formation stages of the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) system. Such legacy experience is very valuable in the face of dramatic transformation of the adult education landscape in Singapore. Newer AEs do not have the privilege of such historical knowledge and their journeys can be quite arduous. I thought it would be meaningful to support them.
MC: Before joining the Continuing Education and Training sector, I was involved in mentoring school teachers on lesson planning and learning styles. I found that to be tremendously rewarding. In my own AE learning journey, I have also been shaped by other senior AEs and professionals who have selflessly shared their experience with me. As such, I feel I have a duty to give whatever help I can provide to ease the adult educator journey for others.
WKH: I have benefitted much from having mentors who have helped to shape my growth, both intellectually and professionally. Hence, when I was offered this opportunity, I was more than happy to follow the footsteps of my mentors.
AT: It is a good programme that is beneficial to the participants. It has given me access to some very good AEs, some of whom are continuing as my associates.
MC: It enables a two-way learning process. Besides helping the mentees assimilate into the industry, it also allows me to learn from them – the struggles they face and the new approaches they bring. This has made me reflect on how to become a better adult educator.
WKH: It allows me to deepen my knowledge through responding to challenges posed by the mentees. Further, it provides me with a pool of potential AEs I can tap when the need arises.
AT: As many AEs come with very diverse needs, it can be difficult to provide them with focused mentoring support. To overcome this, I gathered several AEs together to organise a hackathon on workplace learning for fellow AEs. The benefits were multifold – both the organising team and winners received mentoring from AE Mentors and the participants were exposed to the larger AE community.
MC: The primary challenge is to find mentees who are the right fit with what I have to offer. To do so, I would try to understand the mentees’ objectives of joining the scheme and review if they match the value proposition of e-learning design and development that I bring to the table.
WKH: Two major challenges – unrealistic expectations (like believing that the mentor knows it all) and unexpected questions which I do not have the answers to. For the former, I would need to be extremely patient to explain and clarify expectations. For the latter, I would do research or ask my own mentors for advice.
AT: AE Mentors should come together more often to share notes and learn from one another, since different mentors have their own innovative ways of mentoring AEs.
MC: Be clear on what you can offer as you cannot teach or mentor all skill sets. The focus is to transform the individual AE through the sharing of values and beliefs.
WKH: It is a challenging but yet rewarding role. Take it that we are learning together with our mentees and not just teaching them.
In the third quarter of 2017, AEP will be launching the category of Adult Education Fellows to honour individuals who have made significant contributions to the profession. Fellows will use their deep expertise and knowledge, network and influence to further the objectives of AEP through grounds-up initiatives, and demonstrate the value of AEP as a critical professionalisation drive.
Find out more about AEP here.