The Mentor Mirror: A ‘Reverse’ IDP For Mentors [@SREBDocSch/@OMOTempowered] #ThinkBigDiversity


During the Southern Regional Education Board’s (SREB) 2015 Institute For Teaching and Mentoring/Compact for Faculty Diversity, Dr. Christine Grant and I presented  a session entitled, Mentoring Graduate Students of Color, to full room of faculty and administrators.  It was an interactive session where good information was shared, and we also learned from the crowd.  In preparation for the session, I developed and presented a specific resource that apparently struck a nerve with a number of session attendees, both during and after the session. I would like to share here, it is an Independent Development Plan … for Mentors

The IDP

The Scripps Research Institute has an individual development plan (IDP), a questionnaire and checklist, for graduate students to review and to discuss regularly with their graduate advisors.  Here are the resources for your reference:

SREB 2015

2015 SREB Institute for Teaching and Mentoring

After reflecting upon a session that I conducted with colleagues on global diversity in engineering in Italy (posted here), and after talking with Christine about what I wanted to contribute to our session, I decided that I wanted to contribute to a set of tools for mentors. The general IDP puts the responsibility for self-assessment on the student, and then the mentors affirms or modifies the plan. I thought that it would be useful to have a self assessment for the mentor or faculty member, based on the IDP, which correlates to things that I do for my own students.   Unfortunately, in many cases, advisors haven’t been given a standard or reference for their practice of mentoring. When expectations are not met, the difference between expectations is called conflict. Conflict is real, and has to be addressed. My groups are not immune to conflict, and this week, and I’ve had to use my own advice several times this week. Colleagues from several sessions this year have noted that they want to be good mentors, and that they want to be good mentors to diverse students. However, they said that they needed help, and that they needed some tools. In an effort to provide some assistance, Christine and I worked on some tools for mentors. My contribution is The Mentor Mirror. (For Christine’s tools, see Success Strategies From Women in STEM: A Portable Mentor.)

The Mentor Mirror

I examined the IDP survey for students and postdocs and flipped the questions around, in a sense, providing a mirror for the mentor to see if he or she is providing the mentoring experience that their student needs.  Here is the list of questions I shared for advisors of graduate students to reflect upon.  I call this list The Mentor Mirror .

Download the PDF here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283517238_The_Mentor_Mirror.

Mentor Mirror

Developing Peer Colleagues

One of the key points that I want to highlight is based on #10 in the Mentor Mirror:

What else do you need to do with your students to prepare them to be your colleague, and to be colleagues with your collaborators?

As I’ve traveled to meet and talk with faculty, administrators, and students, I’ve noticed that students aren’t always being invited to join their advisors as peers or colleagues. As mentors, it is our responsibility to develop our students so that they can operate on their own, and so that we will be proud to have them as our colleagues. When mentoring graduate students and postdocs from diverse backgrounds, it is especially important to be sure that they are “invited” into the academy. Here is a short clip from the 2015 SREB Institute on Teaching and Mentoring, explaining #10 from The Mentor Mirror. Thank you to the member of the audience who was inspired enough to record this comment and capture it on a cell phone.

I hope that the Mentor Mirror helps my fellow mentors, and provides a guide for mentees and they seek to have strong relationships with faculty. This list will be finding its way to my desktop regularly as I will also be referring to it as I seek to be a good mentor for members of my own group.

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