Mentoring is a term heard frequently in professional development. Mentoring can range from two professors sharing materials to a formal program. We begin our exploration of how to network for assistance and professional growth with a conversation with Ginny Price from the Veterinary Technology Center who’s acted as a mentor to several instructors.
What does the Vet Tech mentoring program involve?
All new instructors shadow in a course, then teach a course with a seasoned instructor in their course. This is pretty informal, but new instructors often email the seasoned ones inside the course to ask about assignments and teaching strategies. It depends on the individuals what it involves.
What work or tasks are mentors expected to accomplish?
Generally, we are modeling good teaching strategies and assignments. All classes have a person assigned as being in charge of it. So assignments are set. But teaching strategies vary. Also, mentors help new hires with college requirements like attendance and participation in PeopleSoft. We also help the new faculty with Angel. This alone is huge for them.
What motivated you to want to become a mentor?
I love teaching and interacting with my peers. I admire them. We all work so hard. This helps because we all respect each other. We all have our special strengths. It is reinforcing for me. When we interact, I get new ideas and so do they.
Have you worked with a mentor yourself?
Yes, Trish Gorham and I mentor each other. She was full time before me, but I started teaching a year or so before her. We are both driven to find the best teaching strategies and resources for our students. Dr. Flora is also a mentor for me, but shhh, I am not sure he knows. He is a great model for quiet brilliance.
What do you feel a mentor should be expected to do?
Support the person is the biggest responsibility. I feel mutual respect is also vital. Who knows what this new person will need? We are prepared to give them what they need without judgement.
What do you find yourself being asked for most?
What were your expectations of this experience?
I expected it to be a drag. Extra work and not much else. But sometimes now, I enjoy it even more than working with my students.
How did they differ from the reality?
As I said above, it is a joy to work with my peers. They enrich me as much as I do them. It does take away from my grading time though as there is only so much time in a day.
What qualified you to be a mentor?
Experience and the ability to share without making people feel small. I respect them and I feel they know it.
What do you see as your greatest strength?
Enthusiasm and passion for learning! I am a psychology major and am very interested in animal learning. Of course, people are animals too. I guess this helps us to focus on good learning outcomes for students instead of me forcing my ways on them. Combining methods or finding new ones are what make me excited. I do not hide this and it excites the other person too.
What do you see as your greatest challenge?
No poker face. If I think the other person is not trying or just paying lip service to wanting to work on things, I can’t really keep that from them. It can cause rifts. I do not have much patience. I like things to move along. Besides that, I am pretty flexible because teaching does that to you. If you stay in the field, you have to bend or you break. Also, time constraints.
What work or tasks are mentees expected to do?
Lindsay Drake shares her experience on the receiving end of mentoring – ‘When I started as an Adjunct Instructor, it is was mandatory that I spend time evaluating other instructors, especially in the online setting, so I knew what was involved and expected of me before I was let loose on my own. Ginny served as a great mentor to me and still does. She gave me lots of freedom, but I also always felt she was right there. I knew that I could, and I did, ask her any questions that came up. If a student asked me a question I did not know the answer to, I turned to Ginny. She also helped me learn the ANGEL software and how to set-up my online class. Since this is only my second semester teaching on my own, I still have questions come up and turn to Ginny if needed.’
Thanks, Ginny and Lindsay, for sharing your hard work and your insights into the fun and challenges of mentoring! Share your experience either as mentor or mentee in the comments section below and let your peers know what feedback helped you become a more better instructor.