Developing a Faculty Mentoring Relationship

Traditionally those of us in higher education have viewed academic freedom, shared governance, and collegiality as our primary core values. We seem to focus on the former two quite often, but in recent years, with what seems to be a faster pace and increasing workloads, we sometimes fail to give collegiality its rightful consideration. One of the most effective strategies for building renewed collegiality is the development of mentoring relationships between veteran and novice instructors. Such relationships hold a host of potential benefits for both the new, and the seasoned, professor.

In an effective mentoring relationship, new full- or part-time faculty, i.e. "mentees" or "protégés," are likely to receive the following benefits

  • a grounded orientation to the culture and processes of the institution;
  • the development of a sense of belonging, so critical to making meaningful contributions;
  • encouragement at critical times, which puts setbacks in their proper perspective;
  • a model upon which to develop acceptable behavior;
  • introductions to key resources;
  • critical feedback on classroom performance;
  • increased self-awareness, necessary to building a distinct teaching style.

At the same time, veteran instructors, i.e. the mentor, are likely to earn the following rewards:

  • a fresh perspective on key issues;
  • access to an expanded set of support resources;
  • development of a crucial replacement for class meetings that must be missed;
  • support for positions taken in internal decisions;
  • vicarious sense of accomplishment when the mentee does well;
  • recognition from the department or institution;
  • sense of contribution to the development of a teaching and learning community

As you launch your new academic year, we encourage you to initiate a mentoring relationship within your institution that will likely provide both immediate, and long-term benefits. Further information on faculty mentoring, including the important aspect of developing "boundaries" through a mentoring agreement and a model agreement, are available on this site by clicking on "mentoring."

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