Finding a Practicum Mentor

GRAD 8200, Practicum For Future Faculty, requires you to work with a mentor. As part of your mentorship, you will teach three 50-minute sessions of your mentor’s class and do two activities with your mentor that will expose you to the variety of roles faculty play in their careers. Your mentor is required to observe two of your three teaching sessions and conduct a pre- and post-observation discussion with you on each of these two class sessions. You are responsible for locating a suitable mentor and arranging the mentorship, which should be in place no later than the first two weeks of the semester. As the process may be time consuming, you should begin the process of selecting a mentor one to two months before the term begins. The process outlined below explains the steps.

1. Determine where you want to be mentored. First, consider the type of institution you’d like to work in as you begin your career. Would you fit best in a teaching-focused college, a research institution like the U of MN, or something in between? Next, read about possible Mentoring Institutions. As you make your decision, consider courses and programs offered, student demographics, and the institution’s setting. Consult the Carnegie Classification Lookup and Listings for this information. Consider mentoring on a campus other than the U of M. As you are already familiar with large research universities, we encourage you to explore other schools.

2. When you have chosen a school or two, check out the faculty and course listings for those schools. With whom do you want to mentor? Who teaches courses in which you are interested or which you might want to teach yourself one day? Given your current schedule, which classes would you realistically be available to observe and co-teach with your mentor this term? Reminder: Make sure the professor you want to work with will not be on leave the semester you are planning on mentoring. Check the class schedule, contact the department's administrative assistant, or contact the school's liaison. Many schools begin their semesters earlier than the U of M, so plan accordingly.

3. Start contacting professors. Tell them what requirements are involved. Direct them to this site for answers to additional questions and include your CV. Here’s a sample letter you can use in contacting potential mentors via email. This letter is meant simply as a guide, and you are free to write your own letter. The sample letter has a blank where you can fill in the school liaison's name as another source of information about PFF for your potential mentor.

4. If you don't hear back from a professor, wait a week and then send a polite email asking if she has had a chance to consider the mentorship. The closer you get to the semester's start, the less time you should wait. Once the semester begins, wait only 3-4 days. If you don't get a response to your second email, move on to the next professor or contact the school's liaison for assistance.

5. Meet with your mentor. Once you have determined that a good "fit" exists between you and your mentor (e.g., your approaches and goals coincide), meet with her to fill out the Mentoring Interaction Plan and Record.

6Now you are ready to do your mentorship. Complete the requirements during the semester you take GRAD 8200. At the end of the mentorship, get the final signatures on your Mentoring Interaction Plan and Record.