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These notes were developed by the Geography and Education Research Group as part of a webinar in the RGS-IBG Research Groups Professional Development and Mentoring Series, which took place on 11 October 2023.

The session focused on mentoring for teaching and scholarship career development. Following an initial reflection by those present around ‘words associated with mentoring for teaching and scholarship career development’ (see image below) we briefly considered some institutional definitions of mentoring.

Diagram showing words associated with mentoring, including: advice, support, guidance, fulfilling, sharing experiences and best practice
© Naomi Holmes 2023

Image: Wordcloud ‘words associated with mentoring for teaching and scholarship career development’. Includes:

advice; support; guidance; sharing experiences; critical friend; dynamic; sharing of best practice; reciprocal learning; lived experience; reinforcement; lacking; informative; supportive; advocate; care; signpost; fulfilling; growth; paying back; dynamic; coaching; nourishing; inclusion; role model; encouraging; rewarding; compassion; two way; intersectional; knowledge exchange; sharing from experience

Following this, colleagues shared their experiences of mentoring, as a mentee, mentor, or both, and from a variety of career stages. We heard about experiences which included:

  • the importance of being a mentee with a mentor who could relate to one’s own personal situation.
  • GTA mentoring and support, including departmental structures.
  • being mentored while working towards an application for Chair.
  • finding one’s own mentor after initially being assigned an inappropriate mentor.
  • being mentored as a new lecturer following a professional career outside of academia.
  • moving from being a mentee to being a mentor.

These were followed by a panel Q and A session where attendees were able to reflect on the experiences shared and ask any questions they had. It was noted that the wide range of experiences (of both mentors and mentees) showed the very variable (and individual) nature of mentoring relationships, and the importance of finding the right mentor was reiterated by all. 

Small groups then had discussions around mentoring related to their own teaching and scholarship career development, before the whole group thought about future steps for peer-mentoring within the GeogEd community.

Overall, the session sought to share good practices and reflections and was not aimed at dictating how mentor/mentee relationships should proceed. Since the session there has been good interest in a GeogEd peer-mentoring network and the first GeogEd mentee-mentor partnerships started in November 2023.