Professors at our institution are dedicated mentors for TCNJ students and they do an excellent job helping students navigate their time at college and beyond. Faculty can benefit from mentoring, too. This page provides resources for participants in a mentoring program for TCNJ professors that is focused on pedagogy, and others who want to learn about best practices for faculty mentoring
According to Mary Dean Sorincelli, a national leader in research and writing about faculty development and mentoring, the three biggest enemies of new faculty success are anxiety about evaluation, isolation, and overwork. The good news is that mentoring can help. Having a mentor has been found to enhance teaching skills and confidence in teaching (Beckerman 2010, Boyile and Boice 1998). Junior faculty who participate in mentoring programs report higher career satisfaction (de Janasz and Sullivan 2004, Lucas and Murray 2011).
But mentoring is not just for new faculty–it can help professors with all levels of experience, and at all stages of the career. Academia can be isolating (Boice 2000; Johnson 2015), but mentoring across disciplinary boundaries can help faculty build relationships across campus (Kiel 2019, Phillips and Dennison 2015). Mentors also benefit from learning opportunities for growth and development, reflection and renewal (Laverick 2016).
Partners in Pedagogy Mentoring Program Guide
Mentoring is a reciprocal relationship, so it needs to be nurtured. Like other relationships, mentoring occurs in stages. According to Zachary 2000, there are four phases of mentoring: preparing, when participants explore their motivation, assess skills, identify their learning needs; negotiating, when participants agree on goals and define content and process of relationship; enabling, the main contact and implementation phase; and closing, when participants evaluate, acknowledge, celebrate achievement of outcomes related to goals. The following resources can help you in each stage of mentoring.
Things to Discuss at Your Introductory Meeting
- Why did you choose to participate in the mentoring program?
- Mutual goals: What do you hope to focus on in the program? What should you prioritize?
- Meeting plans: When and how will you meet? Please plan to meet at least once a month.
- Confidentiality: Will you share some of what you discuss with others, or will you keep your conversations strictly confidential?
Menu of Suggested Mentoring Activities Focused on Pedagogy
- Brainstorm and discuss: Brainstorm with your partner(s) all the ways you can address whatever is a relevant issue for a group or mentee (e.g., creating an inclusive environment, common challenges with students)
- Share and discuss: What are the three worst things and three best things you have done to address whatever is a relevant issue (e.g., facilitate discussion in your classes, foster active learning)?
- Mutual class visits: Take turns hosting a visit to one of your classes, and then discuss observations. Not part of any formal personnel processes, these visits are an opportunity to learn from one another and get formative feedback.
- Read and discuss: Read course syllabi for existing courses or ones in development and share positive and constructive feedback with your partner(s).
- Review professional development essays and/or standardized CVs: For those on the tenure track or applying for promotion, it may be useful to have partner(s) read drafts of the essay that will be part of their packet or CVs, particularly the parts related to teaching.
- Create plans: Help your partner(s) create short- and long-term professional development plans related to pedagogy, and identify resources on campus or off campus that can help them meet their objectives.
- Review course evaluations: Share a set of course evaluations with your partner(s) and interpret them together to identify useful feedback.
- Mutual training sessions: Partners who identify a shared interest can arrange a shared workshop. For instance: instructional designers could help partners learn about a feature of Canvas, staff at ARC could share best practices for accommodations, etc. If you need help or ideas, please contact Judi Puritz Cook, Executive Director of TCNJ’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Below are some suggestions for mentors and mentees to make the most of your experience in a mentoring relationship.
Advice for Mentors
- Be willing to share your skills, knowledge, and expertise.
- Be kind, approachable and accessible to mentees.
- Schedule regular meetings.
- Learn about your mentee and demonstrate care and empathy for them.
- Be trustworthy and follow your confidentiality agreement.
- Identify and label your mentee’s talents and strengths and then communicate these positive insights to them.
- Affirm your mentee’s value: as a person and as a professional. Counteract “imposter syndrome”
- Find out about your mentee’s goals and support them to achieve these goals.
- Recognize your own limits. No one knows it all, so if you do not have the information the mentor needs or cannot help with something, be honest.
- Help your mentee to find other resources or sources of support on and off campus.
- Practice active listening–listen for subtext, especially before giving any advice.
- Celebrate your mentee’s successes.
- Remember that the best mentoring relationships evolve–like a fine wine, they get more inspiring over time!
Advice for Mentees
- Be proactive and seek our your mentor to meet or get help.
- Make time to meet with your mentor regularly.
- Get to know your mentor (what topics they research and teach, but also personally).
- Be open to feedback.
- Ask questions.
- Communicate with your mentor to let them know what you need and how they can help.
- Build a “constellation” of mentors–one mentor cannot do it all, so seek out a range of support inside and outside your department, on and off campus.
- Don’t be shy: share your accomplishments and successes with your mentor!
Principles for Ethical Mentoring (Based on Johnson, W. Brad and Charles R. Ridley 2018 The Elements of Mentoring p 233-234)
- Beneficence [Do No Harm]: Foster the growth and welfare of your mentee, promote their best interests and avoid intentional and unintended harm.
- Autonomy: Help strengthen your mentee’s knowledge and independence.
- Transparency: Be open and transparent about expectations and limitations.
- Boundaries: Honor boundaries (including agreements about confidentiality).
- Competence: Sharpen your own skills and be clear about what you know and what you do not–seek to connect your mentee with others who might have expertise you do not.
Additional resources for those interested in faculty mentorship:
Faculty Mentoring Resource from Lafayette College that includes essays from The Chronicle of Higher Education and similar sources as well as links to other pages, like a comprehensive resource guide from Michigan State University.
Institutional Approaches to Mentoring Faculty Colleagues, published in Inside Higher Education by Joya Misra, Ember Skye Kanelee and Ethel L. Mickey; March 18, 2021
“From Mentor to Mentoring Networks: Mentoring in the Academy” in Change magazine, discusses numerous mentoring studies, models, and programs.
Mary Dean Sorincelli’s Ten Things That New Faculty Want to Hear contains advice on how to improve the quality of academic life.
Mentoring resources curated by
Dr. Elizabeth Borland, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Faculty Fellow