In order to be an effective educator, instructors must be able to conceptualize their pedagogical perspective, from both the teacher directed focus and the student outcome focus. Instructors must ask themselves two questions, 1.) What will I do during this course to demonstrate my expectations and clarify those expectations to students? 2.) What do students know and can demonstrate to articulate their skill level related to each expectation or topic in the course? Planning instruction using these two questions balances expectations between the instructor and the students.
Effective teaching includes thoughtful and purposeful instructional decisions that match assessment expectations. Transparency is essential, and that is the purpose of a comprehensive and explicit syllabus. Students must understand expectations and be able to demonstrate the skills necessary to achieve the intended outcomes. Ultimately, it is the instructor's responsibility to implement explicit and systematic methods that support students as they transition from novice to expert. Lessons or lectures must begin with an incorporation of student's prior learning and skills, including instructional methods such as anticipation guides, surveys, or critical thinking activities. Then, lessons or lectures must not only relate key information and details, but also requires the instructor to demonstrate thought processes related to those concepts, including comparing and contrasting, analyzing and synthesizing, and critiquing and evaluating. Students must rehearse the thought processes with immediate and explicit feedback from the instructor. At the conclusion of the lessons or lectures, the instructor must gauge students' understanding, and it is this data that forms the basis for both the next lesson and the assessment outcomes.
The Role of the Teaching Mentor as an Instructional Coach
The Teaching Mentor is an instructional guide or coach who helps to clarify effective instruction and purposeful assessment outcomes in a discipline. This Teaching Mentor guides a discussion with a Mentee in order to help the Mentee conceptualize and actualize effective teaching practices to optimize students’ learning. The list below represents some of the expectations between the Teaching Mentor and Mentee.
- The Teaching Mentor and Mentee establish a working relationship, including specific opportunities for discussion.
- The Teaching Mentor asks questions that guide the clarification of the Mentee’s pedagogical perspectives.
- The Teaching Mentor actively listens to the Mentee and provides explicit feedback related to the Mentee’s pedagogical perspectives without cloning the Teaching Mentor’s instructional philosophy for use by the Mentee.
- The Teaching Mentor and the Mentee review evidence of instructional and assessment decisions from the Mentee’s documents, including sample assessments, assignments, lecture notes, course documents, and syllabi. The Teaching Mentor guides the Mentee to confirm connections among the documents and the mentee’s pedagogical intentions and expectations.
- The Teaching Mentor provides resources or examples to strengthen the Mentee’s match between pedagogy and outcomes.
- The Teaching Mentor and Mentee review assessment data to determine the strength of students’ outcomes and if necessary plan for remediation or reassessment of students’ skills.
- The Teaching Mentor and Mentee review course evaluation documents to describe students’ perceptions of effective instruction and course/instructor expectations.
- The Teaching Mentor may observe the Mentee teaching and records evidence of the Mentee’s instructional style, as well as students’ engagement and demonstration of expectations during the lesson or lecture. The Teaching Mentor reviews the observation with the Mentee and asks the Mentee to identify connections between effective instructional decisions and students’ outcomes.
- The Teaching Mentor supports the Mentee as he/she uses evidence to write a narrative to describe effective instruction related to each course and/or connected to the Mentee’s instructional philosophy. This narrative is part of the tenure and promotion documentation materials. There are sample narrative documents in the Teaching, Scholarship, and Service Resource page on this site.
- Periodically, the Mentee writes a description of the mentoring relationship and shares that description with the Teaching Mentor. The Teaching Mentor and Mentee meet as often and for as long as needed.
The Teaching Mentor and Mentee relationship is one of novice and expert, but it also reflects a belief that the Mentor also improves his/her practice. Seneca stated, “While we teach, we learn.” and in that sense, the Teaching Mentor practices a systematic examination of effective instruction as part of a data-driven analysis of documents and perspectives.
The Role of the Teaching Mentor as a Pedagogical Expert
The Teaching Mentor not only guides a systematic and purposeful discussion of effective teaching and learning, but also provides descriptions of teaching tools, including graphic organizers, rubrics, technology tools, and other resources as needed.
The Teaching Mentor can also serve as a curriculum writing specialist who reviews the Mentee’s curriculum and/or course design prior to submission to various campus committees.
The Role of the Mentee
The Mentee seeks support and guidance in order to clarify and articulate effective instruction. Under the guidance of a Teaching Mentor, the Mentee examines course documents as data to define effective instruction, as well as refines instruction to match course expectations and students’ outcomes. The Mentee reflects on the Mentoring process and creates evidence of effective teaching for the tenure and promotion portfolios.