This Web page: http://tlt.gs/mentorinterviews
small, useful ways to extend to other colleagues some of the benefits gained by mentors and mentees who have been working together.
- Collegial sharing (among Mentors and Mentees) can accelerate & sustain cumulative improvements in teaching and learning - even, perhaps especially, in times of increasing pressure and diminishing resources.
- Some mentoring programs are already doing this well. E.g., the Temple University Faculty Mentoring Program that began in 2010, encourages and supports collegial sharing of improvements in teaching/learning, and requires mentors to identify specific colleagues for this purpose.
- Additional support can extend the improvements developed and shared among mentors and mentees to other colleagues.
- Those who are currently engaged in mentoring programs are excellent sources of ideas and recommendations. Many of them are pleased to respond to questions such as those suggested below.
Fluidity of Protocol, Variety of Questions
Each of the interviews is likely to be different from all the previous interviews in two important ways:
1. No two interviewees have exactly the same kinds of experiences with exactly the same kinds of improvements in teaching/learning, exactly the same circumstance for mentors and mentees.
2. My goals and questions for each interview keep evolving, prompted by some of the surprises in the previous interviews.
Interview questions usually include these areas (see below for sample questions):
- Extending the Program
Focus and Activities
- What was the goal or focus of your mentoring group?
- How did you select the goal or focus of your mentoring group?
- In what ways, if any, did you already revise your goal or focus?
- How often do you communicate and/or meet together?
- How were you invited or encouraged to become a mentor?
- What characteristics of mentors are especially helpful for the purposes of this program?
- MENTOR: What are some characteristics of yourself that help/hinder your role as a mentor?
- MENTEE: What are some characteristics of mentors that help/hinder your role as a mentee?
- To what extent can or should mentors be selected outside the "usual suspects" - those who already participate in various "faculty development" activities? How?
- MENTOR: How, why did you select your mentees?
- MENTEES: How were you invited to become a mentee? Why did you agree to participate?
- MENTOR: What are some characteristics of mentees that help/hinder your role as a mentor?
- MENTEE: What are some characteristics of yourself that help/hinder your role as a mentee?
- What characteristics of mentees are especially helpful for the purposes of this program?
- What are some of the recent and current benefits of the program? What's already going well as a consequence of your participation in this program?
- What kinds of support materials or resources or services seem to be especially useful for enhancing the mentor/mentee relationships? For the mentors? For the mentees? For both?
- What could make the program even better? In the next few weeks or months? At the very beginning?
- Are the labels "mentor" and "mentee" comfortable or would some alternative terms be more helpful? Why? Which alternatives (if any)?
- Frequency, structure of communication and meetings among mentors and mentees?
- What kinds of info might be easy to obtain, easy to assemble, easy to report/summarize at the end, and useful to provide to colleagues and to those responsible for deciding how to continue this program?
- What are some obstacles?
- What kinds of changes or resources could help make this program more sustainable? Help it grow?
Extending the Program
- Would you do this kind of program again? Would you continue in this program? Would you recommend it to colleagues?
- How might the program be extended? Extend the benefits of the program to additional colleagues? To new mentors, mentees?
- Which colleagues would be most/least likely to benefit from the T/L improvement you have been working on in this program? Same/different department or division as yourself? Same/different course level? Tenured? Etc.
- What are some obstacles?
- In what ways would helping additional colleagues to begin similar improvements depend on confirming the benefits of the current work for students and/or faculty?
- What could enable and encourage current mentees to help others in turn - even more than they were predisposed to do so? To become mentors - informally or within the next cycle of this program?
- How might current mentors and mentees identify the next individuals to involve in this program or its successor? Who might be most receptive? Most likely to accept collegial help and then help others in turn
- What could make it easier or more likely that you would help a few colleagues to try the same or similar improvements?
- What could I and my colleagues from the TLT Group do to encourage and enable you to help a few colleagues make improvements similar to one of yours? In the next few weeks?
- Have you already helped some other faculty member to try the same or a very similar improvement? If not, would you be willing to do so? When? How?
- Can you identify two or three colleagues who are among those most likely to welcome your help? If you believe it would be appropriate, could you give me their names and contact info? Are there any ways in which you would especially like me or others to help the colleagues you have identified? Any ways you would like us to avoid?
- If this is too soon, how much later? When?
- Would some version of one of our paper bookmarks- designed for use with one of your own recent improvements - be a good way to support your efforts to help a few colleagues?
- Closing question: "What, most specifically, could be done to help YOU help a few colleagues in the next few weeks (months)?" e.g., provide a paper bookmark as reminder and device for passing along info to a few more colleagues
ACTIVITY DURING CAMPUS DAY
How could the following plan be clarified or improved?
Sometime during my keynote/plenary session, ask mentors each to guide a small group. Assign/invite participants to groups as follows:
- Mentor + 4 others = 1 group
- Identify theme or focus for each group - similar to those already adopted by mentors - stated broadly with more emphasis on the pedagogy than the technology
- Urge participants to join a group with colleagues from their own college, division, campus or department [better to emphasize office propinquity than academic discipline? better to DIScourage all from same academic department?]
- Task: Identify the smallest, most specific version of the topic/issue/focus - easiest to implement for each of the participants, easiest to share further with other colleagues
- Task: Describe it using something like "Notetaking Bookmark"
- Task: Select simple strategy/activity for ensuring that the info exchanged in this session will be used soon by those in this group and/or some colleagues close to them...
- Option A: Agree to form a new mentor-mentee group of 2-4 people with one identified as the mentor who accepts some responsiblities
- Option B: Agree that at least 2 of you will try to use this improvement in one of your own courses within 1 month and give some feedback to the others
- Option C: Agree that at least 2 of you will try to help 1-3 colleagues each to use this improvement in one of their own courses within 1 month and give some feedback to the others in this group
- Option D: ??????
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