Teaching as Mentoring

 

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Last week I blogged about Lessons Learned, when a class does not go well. This post picks up where I left off, but focuses on my best teaching experience to date. I love teaching. I view it as a form of mentoring and learning that works both ways. I learn from my students, and I have ample opportunity to work with them as they read and engage with the course materials, their peers, and me. Mentoring is important to me and this class offered lots of mentoring moments.

Last Fall I taught a new course for the Technology and Society Program, Digital Skills for Your Career and the course was amazing. I need to clarify, I co-taught with an awesome person and she helped make it successful. The students were also open to the material and learning. We also had colleagues from Career and Co-op  lecture about planning for your career trajectory, resume tips, and LinkedIn tips. The thing is that we had lots of exercises and group work for the class.

The students started off with putting together an About.me page, where they could think about who they are and what they’d like to share. The course was also meant to have them think about being in control over their digital footprints. They also had to populate a LinkedIn profile well, blog, and then give a presentation about themselves and something that they’re interested in as their final project. There was also group work during class sessions.

We had a wide array of guest speakers from government, media, technology, non-profit, entrepreneurs, and other educators. Everything fit in well and our office hours were quite busy with the students. The student feedback unofficially and officially (student evaluations) was extremely positive. What worked well is that we allowed them to be vulnerable. We talked about vulnerability and we saw that thinking and planning was frightening, and they needed a space to do this. We graded them on their writing, depth of analysis, and public speaking. Overall, the course was awesome. Several of the students shared that they were recruited via their LinkedIn profile, and others used the class to think about what was next for them.

I am teaching the course again, and by myself this time. We are going to read Tom Rath’s Strength Finders and Sheryl Sandberg’s Leaning in For Graduates. I also have lots of articles about using social or digital tools wisely. Overall, I am looking forward to the class, and I hope that this next cohort of students are as excited as I am.

Reminder: Breathe

Mid-terms are about to begin and I’ve been struck with a few things. I can announce things in class, send messages via our on-line learning platform, hold office hours, and attempt to hold G+ Hangout office hours. But, there are those moments when students just do not pay attention. It’s not yet important, as the assignment or exam is weeks away. Then, snap, suddenly everyone needs me. I had to remind myself of a few things in the last week.

1. Keep the hockey schedule in mind. Some of my students are avid hockey fans and my office hours cannot conflict with the game.

2. Remember that instructors need to remind students. They are taking three to five other courses and have multiple deadlines and are juggling so much. The majority will need the reminder. Move on.

3. Be more patient around this time of the term. Students will appreciate the patience and the last thing they want is for you to chastise them. Really–do I need to put any emotional energy in chastising students? No. I have other places to expend my energy.

4. Related to the previous point, I need to also be more available the week of the mid-term. I am also juggling multiple projects, but my first job is teaching and I know that this week my students need me.

This short  post really serves as a reminder to me–patience, compassion, and support. These are the three things that I must have this week. Wishing all students good luck on their mid-terms. And, sending an extra deep cleansing breath to other instructors, mentors, and ancillary staff who work with students. Ommmm!

These post its work for this week!

These post its work for this week!

Today’s Fri Fun Facts is dedicated to thinking about what you do well and life planning. This is really for all of us, but I’m thinking of my college students who are on “break” working or taking Summer courses. It gets so easy to think about what needs to be done or what you haven’t scratched off on the “to do” list.During my office hours, I’ve also noticed a real apprehension with what is next and lots of self-doubt. So, let’s think about what you do well.

1. Get out a piece of paper. Oh, wait, open a new document or text yourself…

2. What do you do well? What are you known for among your friends or family?

3. The last time you were complimented–what was it for?

4. What do you want to known for at work or home? Remember to take care of yourself.

5. Think about your positive traits and what you have to give the world.

Now, think about what is next for you. You do not have to solve everything today, but just think about what is next. And, make this list realistic. Then, go chat with other mentors/coaches in your life and ask them for any guidance they might have as you embark on the next chapter in our life.