Peer Mentoring

In addition to a formal or informal faculty peer review of online teaching, many faculty find engaging with a peer mentor to be valuable. Whether via a formal or informal arrangement, pairing yourself with another faculty member who has more experience teaching online can be a great way to improve your own teaching skills. Likewise, if you have a lot of experience to share with someone new to online teaching, you might consider offering to help that individual along.

Effective mentoring includes frequent interaction between the two participants. The two should communicate regularly, but not so often that it becomes a burden for either participant. Ideally, mentors will not be individuals who have any formal involvement in the mentee's performance appraisal so the relationship can be as open as possible.

Each partner has specific, and important, roles in the relationship between mentor and mentee.

The Mentor’s Role

  • Be available….schedule opportunities to meet, communicate and collaborate.
  • Listen…be a sounding board; empathize; zero in on specific interests and concerns.
  • Facilitate…tap into your experience; lead the way; help locate a resource or solution.

In practice, the Mentor’s role will vary depending upon the unique needs and concerns of the new faculty member and could include any of the following:

  • Sounding Board…listening to and supporting creative ideas and suggestions.
  • Resource…leading the new faculty member to information or the person with the answer.
  • Advisor…offering your opinion or advice on a real or hypothetical problem.
  • Guide…helping to navigate the maze of buildings and offices.
  • Interpreter…deciphering policies, contracts, campus acronyms and “codes.”
  • Reviewer…providing feedback on a proposal, paper, or handout.
  • Role Model…sharing your teaching and research practices, tips and techniques.
  • Advocate…facilitating the new faculty’s social and professional network.

The Mentee’s Role

  • Engage…ask the mentor questions, share comments, voice concerns and identify issues.
  • Seek…look for and utilize opportunities for professional growth and excellence in teaching, research, and service.
  • Take personal responsibility…for your academic career; be an active agent and judge of the appropriate course of action for career advancement.

A Suggested Process

The following list provides a suggested process for a semester-long mentoring process, written for the mentor.  This is designed just to get you started—it is up to the two individuals involved to decide what to include and when!

Prior to the first week of the semester:

  • Call the new faculty member and identify yourself. Arrange a convenient time to meet with the new faculty member.
  • At the first meeting, discuss the course to be taught, as well as administrative and instructional policies. Describe online college students; there are many different “typical” ones.
  • Focus on getting to know each others’ interests, backgrounds, and experiences. Identify common interests.
  • Discuss the importance of trust and confidentiality in the mentoring relationship.
  • Discuss the preferred channels of communication (e.g., meeting, email, phone) and the schedules/commitments of each participant.
  • Discuss mentor and mentee expectations for the process.
  • Review Best Practices and Expectations for Online Teaching
  • Review Peer Review Guidelines for Online Teaching
  • Share Managing Your Online Course

Week 1

  • Call the new faculty member to arrange a meeting.
  • Discuss the first week of classes and share ideas.
  • Keep the communication balanced between listening and advising. Avoid letting the mentor dominate the discussion with too much prepared and sage advice.
  • Continue to build trust in the mentoring relationship.
  • Give the new faculty member any necessary materials, such as the Faculty Manual, the mentor’s class schedule, etc.
  • Give the new faculty member contacts (other faculty) who could be of assistance.
  • Arrange a set meeting time for discussions. If a regular meeting is not necessary, let the new faculty member know that you will keep in contact during the semester.

Weeks 2 & 3

  • Continue to maintain contact with the new faculty member.
  • Within the first 1-2 meetings, make an effort to discuss and document the specific needs, interests, and concerns of the new faculty member.
  • Brainstorm specific objectives and events that could be addressed by the mentoring relationship.
  • Discuss student evaluations and other forms of feedback for instruction.

Weeks 4 - 6

  • Invite the new faculty member to any appropriate college activities.
  • Keep the new faculty member apprised of workshops that would be helpful.
  • Discuss instructional techniques that have worked for you.

Weeks 7 - 10

  • Mentor: Continue to maintain phone, personal, or written contact with the new faculty member.
  • Mentor: Continue discussion of instructional techniques that have worked for you.

Weeks 11 - 13

  • Make sure the new faculty member understands proper procedures for turning in grades at the end of the semester.
  • Discuss the administration of final exams.. The final exam schedule is found in the class schedule booklet.

Weeks 14 & 15

  • Make sure the new faculty member knows you are available for any last minute questions or assistance.
  • Schedule a final appointment to review the semester.