Teaching excellence is the fundamental responsibility of every faculty member at Mount St. Mary’s College. Under the direction of the Provost and through the various academic departments at the college, faculty development on the teaching-learning process is an ongoing activity—the purpose of which is the attainment of a high level of excellence in the classroom experience for each student in every course at the college.
The Faculty Mentoring Program was instituted in order to support and enhance faculty development in the area of both teaching excellence and college-wide community building. The cornerstone of the program consists of faculty volunteers who have agreed to serve as mentors to any other faculty member who desires it, whether part-time, full-time, new to teaching, or long-time, experienced teachers.
Mount St. Mary’s College understands that much as society and our students change, higher education teachers must be involved in a continuous way in the exploration of effective and best practice teaching methods. By continuously improving our teaching we can help our students be optimally prepared for the challenges before them as they pursue educational and professional endeavors after graduation.
The guidelines found in this manual were developed to facilitate the mentor-mentee experience for Mount faculty. It includes specific suggestions for mentors as well as mentees on ways to develop a productive and rewarding collaboration. Our suggestions are based on past input gathered from Mount faculty and data garnered from similar mentoring programs at other institutions.
This manual also explains how to volunteer for mentoring or obtain a mentor and a review of the various types of mentorships possible. MSMC Teaching Excellence Guidelines and Syllabus Requirements are included as well. In addition, basic teaching resources available to all faculty and the kinds of essential services typically necessary for teachers are found in these pages.
We hope all faculty at the Mount will consider becoming involved in the mentorship program. It has the potential to significantly enhance teaching and to help faculty feel welcomed, connected, supported, and part of our college community.
As you read this, please know we are interested in your feedback, suggestions, and comments on how to expand or improve it in future editions. Please email the Faculty Mentoring Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org to provide this welcomed input.
Recognizing the diversity of faculty demands, responsibilities, and needs associated with teaching at Mount St. Mary’s College, the Faculty Mentoring Committee was formed in Fall 1998. Since its inception, the committee has developed the Teaching Excellence Guidelines, created and distributed packets for faculty new to MSMC, paired faculty mentors with mentees, and conducted panels and presentations on mentoring at various college meetings. This manual is an outcome of the lessons learned while developing the program.
One of the most obvious findings of this group has been the real need—even necessity—of a collegial, supportive, colleague-based information exchange between faculty. If we hope to meet the many challenges of the contemporary college classroom and its students, a vigorous program of teaching methods exchange must take place in an ongoing way. Too often in higher education settings, faculty can begin to feel isolated, frustrated, or even intimidated, as they strive to cope with changing student predispositions, new teaching technology demands, multimodal content presentation and interactive teaching methods.
It is the hope of the committee that faculty mentoring will encourage and facilitate a college-wide dialogue on teaching that is open, invigorating, and helpful.
Teaching is the most rewarding, yet daunting task conceivable (at least according to those who teach!). We all remember those golden teachers of our pasts who inspired us to take up the craft. We also imagine as we prepare lectures how equally inspired our students will be when we present to them at the front of the classroom. How can they not find fascinating the knowledge and insights that have so rewarded and interested us?
Once the teaching experience begins, however, the fantastic memories of our own mentors, and our lofty ruminations pondered in the solitary confinement of our offices are, in a sometimes startling manner, shaken to the core by the realities of the modern student in the contemporary classroom setting. When this occurs, it is particularly difficult if a teacher feels essentially on his or her own as far as determining how to go about transforming the course into a successful experience—for students and professor alike. Yet, almost all higher education instructors come to teaching with no teaching methods training.
Most of us basically teach as we were once taught, which does not, we must be frank to confess, consistently do the job. Nevertheless, we are called upon to teach effectively, engagingly, fairly, ethically, interactively, multimodally, and energetically—all while maintaining a high standard of challenge as well as appropriate quantity of content.
Another challenge to teaching in a university setting, especially for new and part-time faculty, is learning about the college community. This might involve such basic issues as location of food services, mail boxes, a copy machine, and a computer terminal, or more complex questions related to the institution’s perspective on teaching, expectations of students, informal and formal rules on student-teacher relationships, committee structure, or faculty advancement. Obtaining this kind of formal and informal information is crucial for the instructor who is attempting to create an optimal learning environment. Being informed benefits every constituency at the college.
How does one seek and acquire this information? How does one achieve valuable teaching and learning insights and skills? To begin, it can be through obtaining a faculty mentor. Mentors are experienced, successful, innovative, and supportive instructors who have been at the college long enough to know their way around.
There are multiple forms of mentoring. At Mount St. Mary’s College, we view the mentoring experience as ongoing professional development. Throughout our professional careers we all strive to grow as effective instructors, whether we are new to teaching or more experienced. Teaching is a dynamic profession that requires continual updating and reinvigoration. Changing student demographics and needs demand that we continuously reflect on our teaching and adapt techniques, tools and methodologies.
Mentoring is intended to serve new or experienced full- and part-time faculty. It can cover general teaching strategies, methods and assessments. It also may be focused on specific issues, such as student-teacher relationships, classroom management, engaging students in learning, career input, or college culture. Mentoring can address many issues of interest to you.
Although mentoring is a collaborative process that actually benefits both mentor and mentee, its intended goal is to help the mentee by means of a collegial, professional relationship. You may be asked for ideas about teaching methods or insights on a range of issues. You are a resource person to the mentee, possibly helping a new or part-time faculty member negotiate such simple processes as filling out a form or pointing them to the right person to answer questions outside your expertise or knowledge. Experienced faculty may request your consultation on developing assessments or incorporating service-learning. Or all that may be desired is for you to be a good listener.
The mentoring relationship should NOT involve faculty assessment, employment evaluation or grievance issues.
The responsibilities of a mentor are not overwhelming, but do require sound judgment, a good understanding of effective teaching, and a working knowledge of institutional offices, functions and day-to-day routines.
The mentor role includes being a:
The fundamental dual goals of a mentoring relationship is to help the mentee achieve teaching excellence and successful acclimation to Mount St. Mary's College. Through a welcoming and friendly partnership, the mentor can introduce the faculty member to the college culture and provide input on what excellent teaching means at our institution.
Qualities of a good mentor include:
A good mentoring relationship is a two-way experience. Mentees need to think about what it is they desire from the relationship and how they are going to increase the chances of a profitable and enjoyable experience. Based on past mentorships, we have found the following ideas should help accomplish this goal.
Recommendations for mentees:
In order to obtain a mentor, the following steps should be taken:
Step 1: Contact: email@example.com
In your initial contact message, please provide the following information:
Employment Status (full or part-time)
Year at College (new or number years here)
Type of mentoring you would like to request.
Step 2: The Faculty Mentoring Committee will select from the pool of mentors a faculty member whom they believe best fits your mentoring needs. As soon as the mentor has agreed to become your mentor, the mentor will contact you to arrange a meeting time.
Step 3: We recommend an initial meeting occur within two weeks of contact. We recommend a regular schedule of meetings. The frequency will depend upon mutual availability and your needs.
Step 4: Enjoy the journey! If you find your mentoring needs are different than what your mentor is able to provide, feel free to contact the committee for a new mentor.
Step 5: At the end of your mentorship, the Mentoring Committee will ask both mentor and mentee to fill out a survey. It is confidential and it is specifically designed to help the committee serve the academic community through the mentoring program, so your input is valued.
Please Note: All communications are confidential with the Faculty Mentoring Committee (with the exception of a perceived threat to the safety of the students or other member of the college community. The Provost directs Committee response in this instance).