NJAW 2018 – How to use MasterMind Groups in Educational Development

“A mastermind group is created when two or more people come together to work towards a purpose. Individual members set goals and seek to accomplish these. Meetings provide support in a group setting and often involve feedback, brainstorming, sharing resources and peer accountability.” – Dr. Isabeau Iqbal

It was such a honour and privilege to collaborate with Dr. Isabeau Iqbal in facilitating the 2018 EDC Not Just Another Webinar – How to use Mastermind Groups in Educational Development. We shared our respective experiences with the use of a mastermind group (MMG) to complete an internal project – highlighting the collaborative, supportive, and inclusive learning environment for all involved. We collaborated with the EDC community to generate ideas on the use of MMG in our respective contexts and developed strategies to address anticipated challenges associated with structuring and facilitating MMG.

It was so fun, energizing, and validating to engage with such a lively audience at such an early stage of my ED career. I am grateful for the wonderful opportunity to contribute to the ED community and to learn from such a thoughtful mentor!

We have prepared a list of resources and curated a list of participant-generated response and questions during the session on Padlet.

Fostering Connection and Community Building

Hord and colleagues identified key features of collegial learning communities: supportive and shared leadership, collective learning, shared values and vision, supportive conditions, and shared personal practice (1998). Our Institute programming integrates many of the features mentioned above to invite changes in participants’ teaching practices and offers relevant and diverse professional development opportunities; however, participants’ need to be connected with one another and to engage in conversations with their peers does not seems to be adequately addressed in its current format as a series of workshops.

Seeing that the participants have already committed their time to attend the Institute, one strategy to maximize the value of these face-to-face meetings is to build-in opportunities for meaningful interaction to foster a sense of belonging to the larger teaching and learning community – with goals to increase faculty interest in teaching and learning, as well as to provide a supportive space for faculty to explore, evaluate, and adopt new instructional practices and tools (Cox, 2001). As well, Palmer (1999) strongly supports collegial socialization as a core component of professional development programs.

Faculty Workshop. By thumprchgo via Pixabay. CC0.

Thus, the Space of Connection was developed to provide an unstructured space for participants to continue to engage in the rich teaching and learning conversations that emerged during workshops, to integrate their learning into their own contexts before returning attention to other commitments, and to simply connect with one another throughout the Institute.

The general features of the Space of Connection include:

  1. reflection question on flipcharts relating to sessions on offer that day to invite participant responses,
  2. a general handout designed to support participants’ process in implementing new teaching techniques/strategies in their teaching contexts, and
  3. chairs in pods for casual conversations and connections.

For the upcoming Summer Institute, I will facilitate a networking session in the Space of Connection to encourage participant reflection (for their learning during the week and relating to their teaching practice beyond the Institute) and to set the tone for the week – inviting peer-to-peer learning, promote relationship building, and knowledge sharing in an unstructured space. I am eager to see how the participants utilize this space and to hear their thoughts/experience/feedback!


Our Pop-Up Community of Practice

The lifespan of community of practice moves through a series of predictable and overlapping phases: identifying questions or issues, recruiting community members, learning and sharing, implementing changes in practice, and reflecting on and sharing results.
The Community of Practice Life Span. Developed by the Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium (ERLC). CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0.

The opportunity to collaborate with Sue Doner (Instructional Designer; CETL @ Camosun College) and Ruth Fraser (Director; Services for Students with Disabilities @ KPU) on an accessibility session during the 2018 Festival of Learning came about by reaching out to Sue at an Open Education event last year to share my interests in Universal Design for Learning; I never imagined that a simple introduction could transform into something so fulfilling and meaningful! 

Our intimate session allowed for collegial exchanges of personal stories and experiences relating to ensuring accessibility to a diversity of learners in an online learning environment. We were able to draw upon one another’s knowledge and expertise, examine our own blindspots, and begin to identify important considerations and approaches when grappling with accessibility concerns in an online learning environment. There was an open invitation to our participants at the end of this brief session: to continue to engage with one another beyond this pop-up community of practice and to nurture the connections that we created here.

I am looking forward to see how this pop-up community of practice take shape with time and to learn how we help shift the conversation around accessibility in higher education one baby-step at a time!

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. ― Mother Teresa

You may find a copy of our session plan. Please reach out to share your thoughts and become a member of our pop-up community of practice!

Developing the Institute Facilitators

“The crucial point is that it is not the professional development per se, but the experience of successful implementation that changes teachers’ attitudes and beliefs.” – Thomas R. Guskey (2002)

CTLT Institutes invite practitioners – faculty, staff, and graduate students – to share their insights, best practices, lessons learned, and actionable approaches with our teaching and learning community, with goals to bring about incremental yet impactful changes to enhance student learning and experiences.

Traditionally, the support offered to Institute Facilitators primarily focused on workshop logistics. Occasionally, consultations re: workshop development and alignment were available at request.

Apart from resource considerations, I think that the lack of professional development support for our Institute Facilitators was a manifestation of an unexamined assumption: these educational leaders, given their vast experiences in the classroom, know how to support their peer’s professional development needs. It seems inconsistent and unreasonable to expect our Institute Facilitators to effectively develop our workshop participants without providing any professional development opportunities for them. Therefore, I developed a facilitation workshop for our Institute Facilitators with hopes to improve the overall quality and interactivity of workshops offered.

In order to demonstrate the desired impact of professional development to our Institute Facilitators, I incorporated Guskey’s Model of Teacher Change (Figure 1) in the following ways:

  1. At the Institute Facilitation Workshop, Institute Facilitators will develop strategies in anticipation for common facilitation challenges in the context of CTLT Institutes and identify ONE tangible change to implement in their upcoming workshop,
  2. During the Spring Institute, Institute Facilitators have the opportunity to actionize the stated change in their facilitation practice and to observe the impact on their participants, and
  3. The Institute Facilitators will be asked to complete a summative feedback form, with specific questions that invite reflection around their process and experience in implementing the stated change (or not).

This is a pilot “experiment” on the level of our Institute Facilitators – it is important to identify effective professional development activities to create enduring changes in “the professional practices, beliefs, and understanding of school persons toward an articulated end” (Grifin, 1983, p. 2). My ultimate goal is to make this Institute Facilitation Workshop an integral part of all CTLT Institutes, so that it’ll serve as at least one embedded mechanism to provide continual follow-up, support, and pressure (Guskey, 2002) for our Institute Facilitators’ ongoing educational improvement. Hopefully, the feedback collected from this process may help inform how best to support our participants in sustainably improving and changing their  teaching practices.


  • Griffin, G. A. (1983) Introduction: the work of staff development, in: G. A. GRIFFIN (Ed.) Staff Development, Eighty-Second Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education (Chicago, IL, University of Chicago Press).
  • Guskey, T. R. (2002) Professional Development and Teacher ChangeTeachers and Teaching: theory and practice. 8: 381-391.

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