Taking a Decision
Like any other solution, the Managed Mentoring program emerged from a decision to tackle a problem. The information below outlines the backstory that led to the creation of this program and shows some of the rationale that drove its design.
This is optional reading, but if you want to know the backstory to the origins of this program read on.
The A-ha Moments
There was a recognition that we could do more
It Started With Body Language and a Display of being lost
During the course of teaching others, you look for signs that the person across from you is receiving the training being provided and connecting with it. Sometimes you know in that moment that they are struggling.
Two of those recognized moments led to the creation of this course. As an educator, there is nothing more disheartening than to witness someone with a passion for learning struggle at trying to grasp the concepts being presented. It happens from time to time, and when it does, one of the first things to do is to examine the training delivery.
Conflict and Struggle
The first instance was evident in a classroom setting. The participants, their body language, it showed they were uncomfortable. it showed that they were not connected to the information. There was a cognative dissonance that the course was adequate, but it was not filling their needs, and their questions, and was in conflict with how they were prepared to engage with the information.
The second recognition becomes evident when working with new beekeepers over a beehive. A fresh crop of new beekeepers struggled to know the basics while standing over a hive. Several of them had just taken a beginner’s course and they were no more prepared than others who were physically at their first ever session. It was very telling that we were letting these beekeepers down.
An examination led to some a-ha moments, and a decision to create a program to solve the gaps.
Evaluating the Problem and a Twist along the way
During the instruction of the classroom session, it was evident in the participant’s engagement with the course that there were gaps. Most of the courseware was sufficient and fulfilling, but there were pockets of discontent.
Some were confused, and others looked frustrated. The questions and interactions exposed an occasional lack of satisfaction with what was being instructed.
In retrospect, the analysis of the problem seemed to be tied to managing the expectations of the new beekeepers. They came in with one perception and had to interact with a different one.
While they were cordial and appreciative to take in the courseware, if they had a voice in the design, they would have likely suggested some adjustments to make it more suitable for what they wanted to learn, and in the way that they wanted to learn it.
As to the challenges of working in a colony of bees, they were out of their element. Maybe at one point, they were told what was in there, but at that moment, at another period of time, they were outgunned.
Striving to Address the Gaps
The solution that was informed by the gaps was to provide support all along the path of learning.
To do it in a way that had enough substance to weed out the common problems that lead to suffering through mistakes: Very akin to consulting with a knowledgeable mentor for guidance and wisdom.
We considered the matter, walked the path of the new beekeepers, and from that point of view looked at the challenges they would face when trying to learn the craft and provided lessons to stay ahead of the curve.
A key principle of the program design is that people who are not beekeepers would come at trying to learn beekeeping in a way that people who are not beekeepers would. That seems cryptic.
What we mean by that, is that courses designed for new beekeepers are mostly created by seasoned beekeepers who know the content. For some reason, and this is one of the identified gaps….. They do not connect with how a new person wishes to engage given what they know coming in.
COVID Interference and Blessing
This program started small in 2018, originally starting out as quarterly workshops/seminars. When COVID happened, the in-person meetings had to stop, and teaching workshops via online meetings did not have the same outcomes.
Upon evaluation of why, it was evident that longer format education, out of a classroom, showed problems of retention; something about the dynamic altered the engagement.
After evaluating the problem the answer came in the form of completely retooling the program to be ‘snackable’: Small compact lessons. This change will drive better retention, and participants will reap the dual benefit of having a library of accessible reference videos for a referral.
2023 – From Pilot to Program
The program content was put to the test with participant members of the Northwest New Jersey Beekeepers Association. From 2019 to 2022 the NWNJBA organization partnered with MM to run candidates through the program to prove out the working parts.
Overall the program was well received and more importantly, the beekeepers did well and were satisfied with the instruction. It was complicated to run it during the heavy COVID years, but the challenges afforded the opportunity to learn and influence the program design.
Continuing the journey, 2023 marks a launch to a wider audience. The truth is we probably could have waited one more year to have more fit and finish, and there will be some warts as we do things just in time with the revised format, but we see it as a way to learn and grow – while truly being agile in the delivery.
We are excited to roll this out to a larger audience; and to learn. Our hope is to one day be considered the typical way to learn the craft of beekeeping, and to do it in a way that is fun – engaging – natural to the way you want to do things – and without the frustration of struggling and failing.
The PAYOFF: A new group of competent beekeepers that can carry on the craft of beekeeping to future generations.