Faculty-Student Interaction: The Joys of Being a Faculty-Student Mentor
Michele Martinez, Instructor, Hillsborough Community College
Throughout my tenure as a teacher, I’ve often asked fellow faculty members what they consider to be the most rewarding part of teaching. Consistently, the response I receive is teacher-student interaction. Whether this interaction includes physical or virtual classroom discussions, one-on-one meetings, or tutoring sessions, the joy of witnessing a student’s “Ah ha!” moment reminds and reinforces your belief in why you became a teacher.
Over the past couple years, I’ve served as a HOPE Faculty Mentor at Hillsborough Community College. Specifically, the HOPE Scholar Program: Helps African-American and Hispanic men with Opportunities in Programs that will advance their Education, or “HOPE.” The program aims to increase the retention, graduation and four-year college transfer rate of African-American and Hispanic males. A majority of the HOPE mentees are first-time college students who are looking for direction and support in their educational endeavors. The HOPE mentor program is a wonderful platform that fosters lifelong teacher-student relationships and maintains an open-door policy of communication. Through the HOPE program, which has a one-to-one mentoring ratio, a student is paired with a mentor who is responsible for the following:
- Providing a pathway to completion and transfer;
- Assistance with applications to four-year colleges;
- Completion of Course Progress Reports;
- Mentor/Mentee meeting minutes;
- Nurturing the student by building a positive and respectful relationship, while being sensitive to background information; and
- Empowering the student by exposing him to internal/external opportunities, including navigating the academic system and building both academic and professional contacts.
Because of this program, the college has seen an increase in quality communication and connections between teachers and HOPE mentee students. In addition, the mission of the program has come to fruition, creating an atmosphere where the student is taking personal responsibility for making informed decisions about his future, thereby setting him up for success.
Open communication with students is the single most important tool in creating an environment where the student can achieve success with both educational and life goals. As an educator, I strive to provide the best possible environment conducive to a rewarding learning experience for all types of learning styles. I not only want my students to learn the course material, but I also hope for them to become passionate about learning. It is my responsibility to instill in my students not only my subject knowledge, but life skills as well. I make it a personal mission to provide my students with the skills necessary to become lifelong learners and contributing members of society. I try to create an environment where students become active participants of their learning environment, in which they take responsibility for their education. I also believe in creating a learning atmosphere that encourages critical and ethical thinking and behaving. In addition, I have an open-door policy with my students and encourage an open dialogue between myself and my students. Thus, I jumped at the opportunity to become a HOPE Faculty Mentor. For me, this is the perfect opportunity to share my passion for learning not only with my accounting students, but with other students as well.