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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Mentoring: Feeding the Brain, Cultivating the Heart, and Building Courage | Faculty Development - Faculty Focus

"As educators, we are privileged to build relationships and help thousands of students reach their full potential each year" says Klodiana Kolomitro, educational developer with the Centre for Teaching and Learning, and cross-appointed with the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada and Les MacKenzie, associate professor and Director of the Pattern II M.Sc. Program in Anatomical Sciences in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. 

Photo: Faculty Focus

At times, we have had nearly 750 students in our first-year undergraduate anatomy course, which meant that we were graciously offered the support of approximately 20 learning facilitators for that iteration of the course. First off, we acknowledge that the official term used in our institution is Teaching Assistant (TA), but let’s be honest—we are in this as a team, so let’s break down that hierarchy of who really is the “teacher” here and who is the “assistant.” We call them learning facilitators regardless of what their contract says.

We want our learning facilitators to have the most rewarding experience during our time together, and we want to ensure that this opportunity provides them with the mentorship they hope for. This certainly includes those who might not have an interest in academia, and for them, this is probably the first and last course for which they will be a facilitator. Yes, we do hold regular meetings, and we have clear expectations on marking, guidelines when they should and should not engage with students, course netiquette, grading sessions, formative feedback, peer support, and so on. But what we want to share with you are our secret ingredients in what we think has really made a difference. In doing so, we can’t help but think of the story in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and how it eloquently captures what it’s like for the mentors (Good Witches) and fans (Munchkins) along a path filled with risks and uncertainties. At the end of that path, though, there is no magic wand or special broomstick. The journey instead helps the Lion, Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Dorothy realize that they already had what they wanted all along.
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Source: Faculty Focus