Mentoring One Another

Mentoring One AnotherMentoring is the formal or informal practices used to advise, train, and/or support those with less or different kinds of experience; practices that aim to develop and improve skills; practices that provide additional tools; and/or practices that expand knowledge. Inherent to effective mentoring are the development of trust and the cultivation of a relationship that is mutually beneficial to all parties involved. Mentoring is a key aspect of professional development at all stages of a faculty career, and has many components.

At a bare minimum, Williams College has a responsibility to provide the clearest possible articulation of the expectations for tenure at this institution, but mentoring is also more than that. Effective mentoring provides guidance on how to meet those expectations in the areas of teaching, scholarship/creative endeavors, and service, as well as how to convey one’s accomplishments, particularly for reappointment and promotion reviews. Addressing how to balance these competing expectations, while trying to maintain some sense of work-life balance, can also contribute to effective mentoring.

Mentoring can take many forms, including college-wide initiatives and those at the level of the department, program or evaluation committee. There are both formal and informal practices. Consistent with recent national trends in faculty mentoring, we treat mentoring not as a singular relationship between one senior and one pre-tenure faculty member, but rather as mentoring networks or mosaics, and as mutual or two-way mentoring. Hence, valuable and effective mentoring relationships can develop among peers, with colleagues at other institutions, and by sustaining relationships with previous advisors, as well as by developing crucial mentoring relationships with chairs and senior colleagues at Williams. Ideally, the effective mentoring of one another persists far beyond the pre-tenure years.

Approaches to Faculty Mentoring

Faculty“On Becoming a Teacher of Teachers,” Robert H. Bell, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of English, and founder of Partnership for Effective Teaching, Williams College, published in Harvard Education Review, Wiinter 1999.

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Center for Teaching and Faculty Development has been a leader in developing and promoting models for mentoring networks and mutual mentoring. Their website describes this model and includes several on-line resources, including the Faculty of Color Resource Guide, and the Mutual Mentoring Guide: http://www.umass.edu/ctfd/mentoring/resources.shtml

Harvard University’s Faculty Development and Diversity website includes a comprehensive list of resources on faculty mentoring: http://www.faculty.harvard.edu/development-and-mentoring/faculty-mentoring-resources

On the important roles of communication, ethics, and attention to diversity in mentoring relationships, see http://www.icre.pitt.edu/mentoring/ethics.html

For a quick list of best mentoring practices, see http://www.uri.edu/advance/10%20Best%20Mentor%20Practices%20NN.pdf.

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