It is challenging to make something feel naturally-by-choice when it is required. The students in my English 101 and 102 courses are asked to do this all semester.
“You are an author,” I tell them.
“You publish everyday on social media,” I tell them.
“Your words are connected to your name,” I tell them.
“I am not your audience when you write assignments for this class,” I tell them.
Yet it is really hard for students to disconnect from the concept of “writing for their teacher” because their teacher is the one who grades their writing. I get it. My class is an early step of many in the path to reach their degree, their career, their BMW.
And even though I know this, I still tell them, “You need to write in an authentic context in order to generate authentic writing; I am not your audience.” So they try. They do. They work hard to generate the best writing they can, but we all know, at the end of the day, they are working for that grade, that goal. OBVIOUSLY, there is nothing wrong with working for a goal, for the next step. In fact, it is awesome, and I am glad to see it in students…and in colleagues.
You see, this type of situation occurs throughout the Maricopa District–many of our colleagues are asked to make something required feel organic. The PAR mentor/mentee relationships are a required element of the PAR process, yet the intention has always been for the relationship to feel as natural as possible.
Thus, in both the PAR Mentor Training and in FYRE, I work to impress upon faculty the idea of mentoring being best when it is organic, so it is worth trying to make PAR mentoring feel as organic as possible. Yes, it is a required element of the PAR process, but we have the power to choose how we approach it.
As PAR Mentors, we can choose to do the bare minimum to cross the task off our to-do list (“Yes. I can observe your class.” “Yes. Your IDP looks fine.”), OR we can embrace the learning and growth that can happen when we truly apply ourselves (“So when shall I visit your class? I am excited to see this new activity you are trying!” “I have read through your IDP and am thoroughly impressed! When can we meet to talk about it?” “Just checking in. How are you?”).
With either choice, as we ALL know, getting to the goal is possible; it is the journey that is different and truly valuable.