What Good Mentoring Looks Like to a First-Time GSI
The following items are based on a survey of first-time GSIs conducted by the Graduate Council’s Advisory Committee for GSI Affairs.These comments were provided by respondents to explain why they rated the mentoring they received from a faculty member as “excellent.”
Clear and direct communication about expectations, role of section, and course goals. The faculty member clearly and directly communicated to GSIs the expectations s/he had for the GSIs’ section or lab meetings, the relationship between the GSIs’ sections or labs and the faculty member’s lectures, and the learning goals for the course overall and for particular assignments or units.
The faculty member met weekly with the GSIs teaching in the course. These meetings had a clear purpose, were conducted efficiently, and accomplished a number of things: keeping the GSIs informed of the faculty member’s continuing course goals; respectfully exchanging pedagogical approaches and practical teaching ideas as they related to the course and sections; hearing out and troubleshooting any problems the GSIs were encountering; and keeping all GSIs on the same page on grading issues.
The faculty member had concrete ways of encouraging and evaluating the GSIs’ growth as teachers. These activities included observing the GSIs’ sessions at least once during the semester and discussing their teaching afterward; possibly giving GSIs opportunity and support to give a lecture to the class as a whole, if the GSI would like to do so; and helping GSIs make sense of their midterm evaluations from students.
The faculty member provided a good balance between structured guidance and independence. This was ensured by weekly and direct communication, prompt responses to email queries, and giving GSIs the information and time they needed to make and execute their plans.
These survey results are consistent with best practices formulated by faculty who have attended and presented at the Faculty Seminar on Teaching with GSIs.