I’ve blogged lots about mentoring and coaching. I’ve differentiated the ways that some students require more hands on approach–ergo the mentoring, and some require less and I view this as more of the coaching strategy. I decided to do something different and buy some stationery and send some of my mentees (will use just that word) a note. I wrote the notes recently, but will send them prior to the Fall term. Now, I’ve sent emails and messages via other social media platforms, but I’m kicking it old school with the note cards.
Some of them will start or continue graduate school in the Fall, and others will join the working world outside of academe. I bought these note cards at the Papery on Fort St in Victoria, BC and chose something that was not too big, so that the sentiment wasn’t a thesis. My intention was to write something supportive, and dispense some advice. Academics tend to live our lives term by term or maybe even school year by school year. Graduate students get used to this, too. After graduation many of my former students note that they miss college and the schedule. Thus, I felt it was appropriate to send the note card just when a school term starts and the graduate might reminisce about their undergraduate days. (I know that many of them do, as I get the emails or Facebook messages telling me that they miss their university days and their old schedules).
Each note card was personalized to the particular mentee and my wishes for them. I gave them well wishes and felt quite emotional as I wrote the cards. I’ve given cards for graduation during the last several years, but these cards of well-wishes were different. I don’t view them as closure to our relationship, as I see the mentoring or coaching as not having an expiration date. And, to be quite frank a few of these mentees are now actually great friends to me, and my family. Now, for any former students who didn’t get a note and are wondering where is there note card–this was a first time project and I sent out several. I will do this again. I really hope the students who get the note cards appreciate them. I’ve only started this and will see how it works.
You sound like an awesome mentor.
University of Cambridge needs tutors as kind as you. I had no goodbye notes, no closure, nothing. In fact, for most of my time there, I felt so unwelcome (in no small part due to my tutors) that I refused to go to the graduation ceremony—something I still don’t regret. If I’d been shown some kindness in university then maybe I wouldn’t have acted like such an idiot there.
You’re doing the right thing. Keep doing it (and blogging about it!) and others will follow. We need more kind people like you.
Wow. James, thank you for your positive comments. The comments mean lots to me, but also makes me sad that you didn’t have any single tutor/instructor who took the time to get to know you.
Yes, I try and give graduation cards to students. These post-grad notes are really a new thing. I’ve done the follow up email, FB message, etc. I also took time to make each one personal and was painfully honest in a helpful way. And, I do want to add that I’ve been quite lucky to have some great mentors during my high school through post-PhD experience. I’ve learned lots from them and from the not so good experiences, too.
Thanks for reading my blog post!
On the other hand, feeling completely ignored in Cambridge has pushed me to put more effort into my teaching. As a high-school teacher, I tutored during lunch breaks and some evenings, and scheduled 10 minutes’ 1-to-1 face-to-face feedback time to discuss each essay. I am very willing to go the extra mile to get students reading/studying/writing better.
Thank you for writing 🙂
That’s great that you have made a concerted effort to be more hands on! I recall being in a mentor’s office and the entire time she was filing and reading mail. I never felt like I had more than half her attention. I promised myself never to do that. Today, we are not in contact.
Keep up the good work with your students! They will remember it.
You are absolutely right about those working in education living life from term to term. I have also found that pattern reassuring. Sending notes when the new term comes along is a great idea. Thanks so much!
It’s something–living term to term, but I’m used to it. I have to thank the Papery in Victoria, BC for having such fine cards and stationery. The other thing was that the emails from former students started to trickle in and they were thanking me or noting that they were missing the start of the term. I have about four to mail in the next few weeks. I did give four out in the last week. No negative comments, yet!
Thanks for reading and commenting!