Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ideas, work and results

Another Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference has come and gone and… it was a huge event. It was a chance to participate in a variety of interesting workshops, discuss new ideas (and how to make the old ideas work better) with old and new colleagues.

How barbers can help after-school programs was a presentation held by Mr. Ishmael Alamin, Owner of the Hyde Park Hair Salon, the Official Barbershop of President Barack Obama. Barbershops are social places where people come regularly. No matter your income or what your political favorites are, you have to come to a barber shop. For example, as a Presidential candidate candidate, Barack Obama traveled each week to the Hyde Park Hair Salon for a trim.

And, since barbershops are where discussions start about everything and anything, why shouldn’t we be inspiring discussions about the value of tutor/mentor programs? – asked Mr. Ishmael Alamin. In his barbershop, thought-provoking maps of the availability of tutoring/mentoring programs are on the wall and brochures about tutor/mentor programs are in the reception area. What a great way to start a discussion about how each of us can help!

Twitter - How It Can Benefit Tutoring and Mentoring Programs was the last workshop, presented by Mrs. Lovette Ajayi. To twitter or not to twitter, that is the question no? Come on; don’t tell me that you’ve never tried Twitter or some other micro-blogging application. It is fun and it can be very valuable. Mrs. Ajayi has 651 twitter followers. Therefore, whenever she twitters, 651 people receive that message. I know, some of us have newsgroups with much more e-mail addresses, but practice says that only 2-5% of receivers actually read those messages. Therefore 651 is a huge number. How to twitter and how to generate so many followers… well, you were supposed to come to the Conference. As an alternative, you can attend the 2009 Making Media Connections Conference, to find about new media formats like Twitter and how to use them.

Impact Evaluation: From Basics to Best Practices, presented by Jenny Ellis Richards, was an excellent introduction into planning and results evaluation. Everything we do, we do to achieve some specific results. Impact or results are not just a bureaucrats’ wish, but the reason why each institution exists, why each of us is coming to a job or to a school. Right?

To evaluate the results, Mrs. Richards uses a Theory of Change methodology. A Theory of Change is a logic model for program; it is a picture of why your program should succeed. It is called ‘theory’ – because it has to be evaluated, improved on daily basis. Very interesting and very useful – just as many other workshops at the Conference.

Program of Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference is available at I encourage you to check it and think about the next conference – in the autumn. Will you come?

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