I work with hundreds of students each term and do my best to help as many as I can. One way that I do this is to set up my course assignments in such a way that each one builds on the next and that the student can learn and improve. I also actively mentor and coach many students from the prospective student who I might take on a tour or chat with in my office through the graduate student teaching her or his first class.
As a mentor or coach, I appreciate those moments when I can celebrate a student’s success. And, those teachable moments, when focus is needed to figure out what is next. What is the next step after there is a set back. These moments provide lessons in coping, crying, and then the strategy. What are Plans B, C, and D? There are also times when you just have to keep quiet and listen. I find that in many instances, the person sitting across from me at the coffee table or in my office needs to articulate aloud what they’re thinking and you have to listen attentively and pause. For me, this occasionally means biting my tongue. I want to help, but the help is to just listen and encourage.
A good mentor/coach must listen. When a student gets closer to their last year, term or graduation a panic can set in for them. I remember this feeling before I graduated, as I wondered what graduate school would be like (that is another post). I’ve bumped into many current and soon to be former students and April was all about listening and encouraging them. They are on the precipice of major change and need to work through this. The best gift I can give is to listen. Today I’m thinking about the importance of listening.