What is Peer-Group Mentoring (PGM)?

Peer group mentoring (PGM) is translated as "vertaisryhmämentorointi" in Finnish, and it has been shortened as Verme. That is where the name of the national network comes from. The first part "Osaava" refers to the national program for teacher development which Osaava Verme network is part of.

Peer group mentoring is the model which is disseminated by all the teacher education institutions participating in "Osaava Verme" to support new teachers. Peer-group mentoring is an activity involving teachers sharing and reflecting on their experiences, discussing problems and challenges they meet in their work, listening, encouraging one another, and, above all, learning from each other, and learning together. The group usually meets once a month after school hours, and the group consists of 4 to 10 teachers and their mentor.

This kind of group activity always raises ethical questions, and therefore it is important to keep in mind the following ethical principles or rules:
•The members of the group are equal participants. Everyone’s voice will be heard, and nobody will dominate the discussion.
•What is shared in a group will not be shared outside.

What are the key ideas beyond PGM?

Peer-group mentoring is based on the constructivist view of learning. Constructivism maintains that knowledge as such cannot be transferred between individuals because we always interpret new knowledge on the basis of our prior knowledge, conceptions, experiences, and beliefs. This is why even the same thing can be interpreted and understood in different ways. Therefore discussion is an essential element in creating shared understanding. Knowledge is thus not transferred as such, but we all form our personal conceptions in social interaction.

How does peer-group mentoring differ from traditional mentoring?

•Traditionally in mentoring a senior and more experienced worker transfers "tacit knowledge" to a younger colleague, whereas peer group mentoring is based on the sharing of experiences and expertise. whereas PGM is based on the idea that the relationship between the mentor and the mentee is reciprocal and both parties have something to give to each other.
•While traditional mentoring takes place in one-to-one discussions PGM is implemented in groups that consist of both novice teachers and their more experienced counterparts.

Come as you are

Verme groups are mainly for newly qualified teachers and for those who return to teaching job after a break but anyone who is interested of sharing knowledge and expertice is welcome to join the groups. Besides teachers, the groups are open to all professionals working in the field of education, such as councellors and school assistants.

Osaava Programme

The national programme for teachers’ continuing education (Osaava) was launched in May 2010 by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The Osaava programme is targeted at those working in education. The specific target groups in 2010–2011 will be the heads of education departments and educational institutions, full- and part-time teachers, teachers over the age of 55 and all those who in the past few years have only been able to attend continuing education to a minimum level or not at all.