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Advice for mentors—listen and smooth out the details

August 2, 2011
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Today, I met with my mentee, A, at school, having previously sent him the following email:

HI A,
I just wanted to send a quick email to check in and see how things are going. Please don’t feel the need to respond to any/all of these questions, but I wanted to check in on a few things you’d asked about:

Again, please let me know if there is anything I can help with. I’m going to be at school basically every day next week, so if you want to schedule some time early in the week to meet, go through the things in your room and talk about whatever else you want, I’m happy to do that. Just let me know when would be good for you.

Best wishes,
-John

A wrote back pretty quickly and we set up a meeting this morning. I wasn’t sure what we’d do during our time together, but A came with a list of questions and tasks he wanted to accomplish. Remembering some of the feedback I got from my last post I sent about mentoring, I suddenly realized that plowing through these issues would be the absolute best way to spend this time. So that’s what we did, going on a tour all around campus, stopping by all the places that are important in your daily life like the fastest way to get to the cafeteria, the copy center, meeting the super important staff members who run these organizations and can singlehandedly pull you out of the fire in times of crisis, and pointing the secret room behind in the administration building where you can go for good coffee. For me, it was a fun game of thinking how to best navigate the everyday bureaucracy of a school to help a new faculty member find the lowest friction solution to many everyday challenges. Hopefully it sets A up to approach next week’s new faculty meetings without having to worry about all the little things that need to be done while listening to the information torrent that is new faculty orientation.

And, for the record, A is going to be a rockstar teacher.

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