6.2.3 For the mentee
From the same study, mentees indicated that they appreciated having someone available for seemingly 'trivial' questions, as well as for detailed advice on the module or teaching. Some found it useful to hear from mentors about parts of the module that students found difficult. Being an OU tutor can be isolating and mentees say that the most useful thing about mentoring is knowing that 'someone is there' to contact quickly if a query or problem arises.
The best mentors are probably those who both guide and respond flexibly to the varied needs of a colleague in a new teaching/learning situation. The mentor acts as a sounding board and offers encouragement to new colleagues, as they gain confidence from their own experience.
The job of a mentor in the OU is to:
- Be proactive in making early contact with a new member of staff (contacting them as soon as possible after their appointment) and suggest a structure to the mentoring process. The relationship can become more flexible as it progresses.
- In some instances, the Staff Tutor may ask a mentor to brief the mentee on the content and delivery of the module itself.
- Be available online and /or the telephone, particularly in the early weeks of the mentee's employment, to advise and encourage on all aspects of the job.
- Make contact before and after the first tutorial.
- Make contact around the time of the first tutor-marked assignment (TMA) cut-off date
- Be a continuing resource for the mentee during their first year.
- Be interested in the new member of staff's previous experience and, how it relates to this new role, not assume 'being new means knowing nothing'.
- Share experience.
- Find out answers to questions they cannot answer themselves.
In this video, Vicky talks about whether it is helpful to have a mentor and gives an example of how they can help a mentee tutor like her.
Think about any experiences you have had in other settings regarding being mentored or being a mentor.
What aspects of mentoring worked well for you?
What would you describe as the essential qualities of a successful mentoring relationship?
Having watched all three videos of Mary and Vicky discussing the relationship between the mentor and the mentee, do their experiences resonate with the essential qualities of a successful mentoring relationship you described above?