NCFS 2001 -- University of Wisconsin, Madison

Roundtable on Pedagogical Issues: Experiences and Experiments

Updated: March 14, 2003

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Stage 2: Lateral Mentoring Tips from Outside the Seminar


1.Make the resources of the campus community as a whole accessible to junior faculty so that the community itself acts as a mentor to help individual new faculty engage in creative and productive campus lives with others.

2. Encourage lateral networking structures for new faculty, structures that will enable faculty to identify individuals or services likely to offer something they need. The Mentoring Program should make available to new faculty important information about sources of potential advice, support or a "different perspective" on issues of concern to them. The faculty mentoring program should be one where junior faculty themselves take the initiative to seek what they need, rather than one where new faculty are assigned a senior faculty mentor on a one-to-one basis.

3. Offer new faculty a network of potential mentors who are independent of the faculty member's department or program; at the same time, encourage Department Chairs to learn what responsible mentoring entails.

4. Provide for new faculty a series of networking structures that fulfill three goals for them:
(a) Support, defined as active listening by a receptive presence who offers the faculty member an honest perspective on professional matters; and/or a receptive presence who can address the well-being of the faculty member first and foremost as a person, as well as a scholar and teacher.
(b) Challenge, defined as helping the faculty member develop a sense of agency and self-authorization in the campus community through dialogue about the individual's professional goals.
(c) Vision, defined as the offering of context and perspective to help new faculty situate their tasks within a campus community of interdependent citizens.

5. Offer a diverse new faculty with specific needs the resources to lead productive and creative lives on campus; include these new faculty members' experiences in ongoing dialogues crucial to the modification, expansion, or revision of existing institutional structures so that such structures better address changing demands on campus. Such diversity may range from very concrete differences as in foreign scholars with immigration issues and scholars from under-represented groups [as defined by gender, ethnicity, social class] to differences of perspective between scholars with differing disciplinary lenses and scholars with contrasting career goals.

6. Set up mentoring resources that take into account the respective positions of the mentor and mentee in structural power relations. For many women mentors, the conventional model of mentorship as the "socializing" of mentees into an already existing academic culture does not include their experience. Therefore, enable the mentor-mentee relationship to encourage the active questioning and transforming of existing structures of power in cases.

7. Foster structural connections between new and existing faculty in order to encourage an understanding of differences in scholarly production and teaching styles, and to foster familiarity with new developments in both areas.

8. Make accessible a support network of diversely experienced campus citizens who can exercise an advocacy role for new faculty: e.g., explain procedures, offer advice about interceding with higher authorities, suggest people to turn to for specialized information, etc.

9. Offer new faculty opportunities and strategies for constructive, critical engagement with others. Recognition that a diverse campus community calls for active efforts to understand differences, to dialogue consciously across difference, and to offer and cultivate ways of negotiating conflict.

10. Offer networks of mentorship that give new faculty opportunities to look beyond their immediate day-to-day departmental location, and to pause, reflect in informed ways, and assess their location within larger communities (e.g., the context of the campus as a whole, that of their field of specialization).

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