Mentoring as an Instructor:
Fall 2004 Independent Study

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By Amanda Cochran

Throughout the fall 2004 semester of Writing for the Internet with Professor Dennis G. Jerz, I was the mentor for the students in the class.

This position was to:

I will note that I learned more than I contributed this semester. Perhaps I am being too harsh on myself, but I really think that I learned so much from being a part of class once more.

As an instructor on weblogging, I spoke about what a weblog is and how it can be a great tool for working in the academic, professional, and personal areas of an individual's life. While my professor was there to oversee the class, I had my first taste of instructing. With my hands shaking and clammy (as usual), I took to the podium, and tried to lighten the mood with some references to past, rather embarrassing experiences, on the Seton Hill University blogs.

Another class gave the opportunity to really lead class. Again, I was very nervous. Dr. Jerz said that I was on my own for the day, because he had something scheduled for that time. In any case, it was up to me to facilitate the learning. As an English new media journalism major, this was really not my thing, but I did it. During the time, we did an exercise focused around the final projects of the class. I knew most of the students in the class pretty well by that time, so it was relatively easy for us to get ask questions.

Splitting up the class and actually doing the work was the most difficult task.

Everyone sort of forgot what group they were in, or pretended to. I had some huge groups, and others with two or three people.

As in most group situations, the discussion about the topic at hand is left by the wayside after about three minutes. In order to combat this, I made regular turns about the room to make sure everyone was on-task. This practice worked rather well, and I was happy with the results; each group had at least one or two thoughtful reflections on their project issues. As a full-time teacher, I really would not cut it, but as a communicator to a large group, I think I am making strides in successfully facilitating activity.

In addition to these two experiences instructing, I also assisted in class discussions, drawing from my previous experiences. Talking with students, and commiserating with their difficulties in constructing their pages, has been one of the best refreshers of the course. Broken links, pictures that will not appear, pages that do not load fast enough, and software issues, are just some of the elements of my experience that I drew on to aid the students in the class.

I enjoyed being an instructor mentor for this class, and I look forward to another opportunity to lead and instruct (in small doses) again.

Updated by Amanda Cochran 12-07-04.