In February, four NORDP members – Jan Abramson, Rachel Goff-Albritton, Kathy Partlow, and David Widmer – attended the International Mentoring Association conference in Gainesville, Florida. The conference occurs every other year and includes a wide spectrum of mentoring enthusiasts across education, business, and other sectors. Since 1987, the International Mentoring Association has been the premier source for best practice solutions and support of mentoring professionals. For this blog post, we feature takeaways from one of the many sessions that were part of the conference.
Session: The Art and Science of Mentoring: Testimonies from Research and Practice
Takeaways by: Kathy Partlow
Picture a conference session with a long table of panelists packed in elbow-to-elbow at the front of the room. You might be thinking the panel organizers were overzealous in their invitations; however, I soon discovered that the table was a visual representation of the impact of mentoring. Dr. Frances (Fran) Kochan, a well-known education leadership scholar and master mentor, was surrounded by a few select mentees that she had impacted throughout her academic career. Her mentees had decided to honor her with a festschrift – a German word for a commemorative of someone who is still living – to pay tribute to her influence and contribution to the field. Each mentee wrote about how Fran’s mentorship helped them navigate skill development, career progression, or work/life integration topics as examples of putting mentoring theory into practice within a chapter of The Art and Science of Mentoring: A Festschrift in Honor of Dr. Frances Kochan. Each shared powerful and moving testimonials on what they learned from Fran about mentoring and how one person “can cross our paths and change us forever.” As Fran – and really the entire audience – worked to control emotions throughout the testimonials, Fran closed the session by encouraging each of us to always be a mentor and a mentee. I found the session inspiring. I want to be like Fran and what I learned from this session is that having that kind of impact is possible for each of us.
Afterwards, as we NORDies gathered and talked about that session, one of the clearest session messages was how mentoring leads to growth and transformation. The impact of mentoring begins reciprocally: the mentee and mentor both benefit. Then, the impact of that mentoring grows exponentially: each mentee goes on to influence multiple others and so on. Importantly, the impact of mentoring happens through small acts: being kind and supportive to others, actively listening, picking up a phone, or returning an email. The impact of mentoring also happens through big acts: being a role model, collaborating together, giving psychological and emotional support, or providing sponsorship.
Overall, the impact of mentoring is transformational for self and others. Registration opens soon for the next cohort of the NORDP Mentoring Program. What will your impact be as a mentee? As a mentor? Who will be at your table? What legacy do you want to leave?