Mentoring Portfolio

 

PhilosophyRolesExpectationsAgreementJournalAssessment

Personal Philosophy of Mentoring

Mission: Mentoring is a way for me to share my talents and abilities with others so that they may, even if only in a small way, move closer to their goals. Through mentoring I can help repay all who have helped me move closer to my goals and dreams. Although mentoring is normally a long-term relationship, these are also the same reasons that I help others with small tasks, whether it's just giving a bit of technical advice or helping them troubleshoot a problem.

Vision: At the end of the mentoring experience, my mentee will feel that they have grown in some obvious way and I will feel that I have helped in that growth.

Mentoring Roles

A mentor is more than somebody who stops and helps out. A mentor should:

  • Provide expertise in the area being mentored;
  • Be open and honest when he or she don't know something;
  • Be willing to explore new topics together with the mentee when required;
  • Be able to gently offer suggestions;
  • Be able to graciously receive suggestions for improvement;
  • Provide challenging questions and thoughts when necessary;
  • Help the mentee through temporary setbacks and through the times when it seems progress isn't being made.
  • Be available when needed;
  • Be sympathetic to difficulties of the mentee.

Expectations

Personal

My personal expectation is that I will become better at helping others learn what they want to learn rather than me doing it for them. And I will be better able to judge when I can "walk" somebody through a procedure compared to when I have to look at the code. My own learning experiences with technology left me with several vivid memories:

  • In one vivid memory, I remember typing a letter on my dad's new IBM PC—one of the original ones. Before I started, he told me to "format a disk" so I could save it. I knew what a disk was. I knew what it meant to write to a disk (I had been programming in FORTRAN since 1975 for various courses). But I had no idea what he meant by "format a disk." My recollection of the rest of the conversation was me using "Huh?" frequently.
  • Another vivid memory was in 1987 when our local Macintosh aficionado told me that Macs were "intuitive." If they were intuitive, why couldn't I "get it?"
  • A third vivid memory has to do with my attempts to create more than just a web page. I couldn't quite map how I visualized a web site to something that translated into files and folders. That effort stretched over a couple of years, until I created my first site—all four pages! I had made the mental paradigm shift to see the interconnectedness of information. My lesson from that is that first webs are hard! I try to keep that with me when I help others.

These memories should make it easier to relate to the frustrations of the others.

Mentee

Heather's expectation is that she will be able to work on the web more confidently, create her own website and alter the appearance using style sheets or other advanced features. She would also like to make a PowerPoint presentation on the website.

Mentor-Mentee Agreement

As the mentor, I have agreed to help Heather with her web publishing efforts; to provide support when she needs it; and to help her learn the web without me doing the work for her. I will try to use terms that make sense to her and not bog her down in unnecessary detail. Heather agrees to meet with me when we can and to provide me chocolate.

Journal

February 3-9

Synopsis: Heather has agreed for me to mentor her. Her current interest is to put up a peer mediators website and be able to maintain the counseling website. However, her basic interest is learning how to do a web page from the beginning.

Reflection: I like this and it will give me a chance to better understand how others relate to the concept of "web". It's a very difficult concept for many because it is such a different paradigm from what we grew up with and I try to keep in mind what my own experiences were like with technology. I have entered those under my personal expectations for this relationship.

Mentee Reaction:

  • What was the most memorable thing you remember from this week?
    • Feeling excited, at the prospect of learning more about the web.
  • When you think about this week, what was the part that was most confusing?
    • No confusion.
  • Questions you have concerning this week are:
    • None.
  • Elaborate on one particularly significant event from the week:
    • How easy working on the web is when things are going well and how much I have to learn when things don't go well.

February 10-16

Synopsis: We talked more about mentoring, but the hard part is getting together. She leaves at three, so getting together is difficult and it seems my prep periods are taken up actually prepping! However, I also realize that I am providing mentoring in way that will help her move forward. Heather had started working on placing course descriptions on-line and had begun modifying the ones from the web last year so we also discussed this. I stopped by several times during the week to help her with this.

Reflection: We had worked on this together last year and the document that really needed changing was the original Word document. However, she was working on the document in the web. I could see how this was confusing as it is common when making use of features in one program that are not in another. We worked through the issue but the confusion about where to do what was evident.

Mentee Reaction:

  • What was the most memorable thing you remember from this week?
    • How well my course description web work was going.
  • When you think about this week, what was the part that was most confusing?
    • Why couldn't I modify my original document instead of having to do the changes in Word?
  • Questions you have concerning this week are:
    • None.
  • Elaborate on one particularly significant event from the week:
    • Nothing that stands out in my mind.

February 17-23

Synopsis: We had one meeting this week were we continued to work on her course descriptions. At this point, she was able to do most of the work (generation of table of contents, fixing style problems) with hardly any input from me. We did take a look at a few graphics that were giving her problems.

Reflection: Learning can seem so slow sometimes, but when we look back and see how far she has come with webs since she started, it's quite amazing. However, I'm concerned that we are so focused on work that we are not getting to one of her primary aims, which is starting from scratch. She's pretty good at modifying as she also has to do the website for the parents, but we are not working on getting her to her goal of starting from scratch.

Mentee Reaction:

  • What was the most memorable thing you remember from the week?
    • My "style" problem... I had a few headings that had incorrect spacings. When I would click on them the headings said the correct styles. When I clicked on apply---it fixed them.
  • When you think about the week, what was the part that was most confusing?
    • Why couldn't I modify my original document instead of having to do the changes in Word?
  • Questions you have concerning the week are:
    • None.
  • Elaborate on one particularly significant event from the week:
    • Finished course descriptions! Yahoo!!

February 24-March 1

Synopsis: Heather got the course descriptions up. I posted one to show her how, and she posted the other. Together we worked to clean up the inevitable glitches that go with converting from a Word document to an HTML document.

Reflection: I had to do some work with the documents because of the way I'm managing the web. For example, after she posted, I converted them to an ASP file to add the graphic headers using a server side include. So, is this something I should expect her to learn? Or is it something that reasonably should be expected to be maintained by the current webmaster (me) and future webmasters? Although right now I don't have difficulty justifying it as a webmaster-only function, I am starting to wonder if that conflicts with how I would like to see the middle school web being run. In other words, pages are maintained as much as possible by the people responsible without the webmaster being needed.

March 2-March 8

Synopsis: We had only a short meeting this week. Heather successfully modified one of the pages with hardly any help from me. She just needed to know whether she should delete the box with the question mark. We did troubleshoot another problem where she had copied in a large part of the document, with headings intact, then her table of contents didn't work anymore. It turned out that the table of contents had not been regenerated, which was really not that obvious. This gets back to the issue of working with two separate programs.

Reflection: She's making good progress. I can almost see these concepts coming together in her mind as she works. However, her question gets back to how I'm running the web since that box is a result of using ASP. In listening to this session afterwards, I realized that I tend to give too much information. In other words, I may give her all of the various options when it would be better for me to make the appropriate choice based on her current understandings.

Mentee Reaction:

  • What was the most memorable thing you remember from the week?
    • I seemed to have lost my table of contents....
  • When you think about the week, what was the part that was most confusing?
    • I just missed one little step... and oops....
  • Questions you have concerning the week are:
    • None...
  • Elaborate on one particularly significant event from the week:
    • I feel linking is so easy... I must be missing something.

March 9-March 16

Synopsis: Heather has been very kind with her time (and her chocolates). We sat down and took the time to discuss where we wanted to go in our mentoring relationship. We talked about what we had originally set out to do (the peer mediators website) and see where she wanted to go from there. Since she is moving to Singapore after the year is over, she would like to learn enough about creating a page so that she can put up a personal Christmas page next year that would not be indexed by robots. We also talked about the arrangement of her workspace so I could help her.

Reflection: I like her new concept and think that is something she will find very useful. As for the current arrangement of her furniture, I have to sit or stand behind her when she is at the computer. She is concerned that I feel cramped. However, as I reassured her, I actually like the arrangement because it makes it very difficult for me to get to the computer while she is at it. In other words, I can normally stop myself before I take her mouse and it forces me to try to articulate clearly and concisely what we are about to do, then lead her through it with words. I've really had to think about how to express what is on the screen and it's also more obvious where she has questions.

The issue I struggle with is when do I take the mouse? There are times where I really don't know what is going on in a web page and I have to take a peek at the underlying code or try various things in the menus. I really wasn't aware of how much I do this until I started helping Heather. Now I wonder, when she asks a question in which it is easier for me to answer if I see the code, do I take the mouse, which I have been doing, or do I try to walk her through the procedure?

Mentee Reaction:

  • What was the most memorable thing you remember from the week
    • Talking with Derrel, I think the best way for me to learn the web (from the beginning is to make my own web page)
  • When you think about the week, what was the part that was most confusing? 
    • When I make the page how you post on a "personal" server....
  • Questions you have concerning the week are:
    • How would I change or save my web since I will be changing countries?
  • Elaborate on one particularly significant event from the week:
    • Nothing stands out.

March 17-March 24

Heather traveled to Singapore so we had no meeting of substance.

March 25-March 31

Synopsis: This week we had a thirty minute meeting to wrap up the "formal" part of the mentoring. We had planned on working on her personal web this week, but as happened most of the time, she had something she had to do for work. One of the counselors wanted required courses to be italicized in the course description document I had helped Heather to put on the web, so she wanted to work on that instead. This turned out to be a good session as Heather is now comfortable with styles in Word and it was a perfect opportunity for her to set up a style within FrontPage that would do what she wanted. I helped her with that, as well as helping her change hyperlink styles. There was no Mentee Reaction as Spring Break followed immediately.

Reflection: At the end of the session, she seemed to have a good grasp of how the style she created was affecting the what she saw on the page. I'm not sure she could create a style from scratch on her own now, but she obviously has a good idea of what a style is and why it should be used. However, I just realized what is also causing confusion for her is that she is getting conflicting messages from others. She has to add news to another web page and the person who set her up told her that if she if wanted to change the color of the link, she just needed to highlight the link and select a different color. (This procedure is definitely not recommended!) She brought that up during our meeting when we started working on her hyperlinks. I did try hard not to flood her with information but to choose what I felt was the most important for her to know.

 

Assessment

Mentee Assessment

My mentee was Heather, the counseling secretary. She made progress in her goal of being able to create websites more confidently and to alter appearance using style sheets. At the beginning, Heather wanted to be able to understand how to create and modify web pages. She did have some experience with the web, but she still found it confusing. As we look at her reactions over this period, we see that she has moved from the very basic concept of being excited about learning more about the web to more detailed thoughts about the techniques and her growing understanding of them. For example, on the week of February 3, one significant event from the week is “how easy working on the web is when things are going well and how much I have to learn when things don’t go well.” But by the week of March 2 she writes, “I feel linking is so easy…I must be missing something.” Linking was a technique that had seemed somewhat mysterious to her when we first started.

Her growing confidence was also apparent as I watched her work with the web and towards the end of the formal mentoring I realized that she now almost always selects the appropriate item from a menu the first time without any assistance. In the session of the week March 25, what struck me most when listening to the tape was how comfortable Heather now seemed with looking at HTML code and relating what she saw in the code to the appearance of text on the page.

Some of her difficulties were due to working with a document in both Word® and FrontPage®. She had use Word to create a long document so that she could automatically generate a table of contents. When saved as a web page, this table of contents automatically linked to the correct spot in the web. However, once in FrontPage, some minor work needed to be done to the document there. As she grew more confident it was obvious as I was sitting with her that she could tell the difference between what could be done in Word and what could be done in FrontPage.

She had started out wanting to make a website for school, but as we got into the relationship she realized that she would learn more by making her own personal website. We scheduled several meetings just to work on her personal website but she always had other issues arise that were more important to work on. Although this project is formally over, she will be moving to Singapore at the end of the school year. I have committed to helping her learn enough to publish a personal Christmas page so that we all may keep up with her exploits

Self-Assessment

My personal expectation for this project was that I would become better at helping others learn what they want to learn rather than me doing it for them and I would be better able to judge when I can "walk" somebody through a procedure compared to when I have to look at the code. (The last item refers to me taking the mouse and switching to the code view so I could “tweak” something.) This experience fulfilled both personal expectations, and was apparent at the end when I realized that I no longer needed to take the mouse.

I enjoyed working with Heather in a more formal fashion than is usual when I help others. I have been helping our teachers get on the web for a couple of years now so the content was not new. Listening to the recordings helped me understand some of my behaviors during mentoring and think about how I could modify them. One key observation was that I noticed that I tended to give a broad range of options whenever Heather had to make a choice, which tended to confuse her. I started paying attention to how others reacted to the range of options and realized they were confused as well. (In terms used in the Masterful Coaching Fieldbook [Hargrove, 2000] I was not separating my conversations from each other.) I now make more direct recommendations rather than giving options for people to choose from. One other observation is that sometimes I would begin talking too soon, before Heather had finished her thought. I’m trying to more aware of this when helping people.

Mentoring refreshed my insights about mentoring and interaction with people. I find it worthwhile because I do enjoy helping people with my time and talents.

The readings helped somewhat in the mentoring process but, because of the type of project Heather and I were working on, they didn't provide that much help for this situation. Mentoring [Shea, 1997] provided the structure, which I shared with Heather when we began. However, like the Masterful Coaching Fieldbook [Hargrove, 2000], much of the book is devoted to issues that did not arise, and that I did not expect to arise, because we were working on a technical skill Heather wanted to learn.

References

Mentoring, Shea, Gordon F, 1997, Menlo Park, California, Crisp Publications, Inc.

The Masterful Coaching Fieldbook: grow your business, multiply your profits, win the talent war!, Hargrove, Robert A., 2000, San Francisco, California, Jossey-Bass/Pfieffer.

Mentoring Assessment last maintained 08/23/2003

Portfolio last maintained 08/23/2003

   

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