Guest Contributor: Audrey Wick, English Professor at Blinn College (Texas)
This year, my two-year college has formally implemented a Mentoring Program that pairs veteran faculty with new members during their first year of teaching. This initiative grew from an instructor’s idea and was formally approved by our Academic Standards Committee and our Executive Council.
The value of a mentoring program is that it improves the college culture for everyone. Good teachers share their ideas, and new hires have an immediate resource to whom they can ask questions. Departmentally, the Mentoring Programs also serves as an inclusive way for all faculty—whether full-time or adjunct, on campus or off—to feel supported.
When I was a new faculty member, I had a departmental mentor who has hired five years before me: long enough to give solid advice while still being in tune to some early challenges that new instructors face. So whether I had a question about pedagogy or classroom management, I knew I could turn to her. That’s the power of a mentor. She helped me become sure-footed so that I could be an effective instructor.
Now, in my full-time capacity, I’ve had the pleasure of helping an adjunct in much the same way my mentor helped me. Paying it forward in this way helps individual instructors stay sharp while unifying the faculty to make new hires feel included. Adjuncts, too, are such an important part of the faculty that formalizing the program will help ensure it reaches them as well.
With our new Mentoring Program, our college can ensure it uses its skilled veteran faculty to help foster confidence and competency for all new hires, adjuncts included.