Mentoring First-time Teachers in Hospitality Education
Dr. Eric Brown, Associate Professor, Department of Apparel, Events, and Hospitality Management, Iowa State University
During my time as Director of Member Services and Development for ICHRIE, I have heard from many faculty about their experiences with mentorship. Hospitality programs across the world range from having no required mentorship to having formalized processes for mentoring new faculty. At Iowa State University, our faculty are required to have both a research and a teaching mentor in a formalized process over the first year, but many times this formal mentorship turns into a career-long relationship.
While having a research mentor is important, something many first-time faculty struggle with is teaching. Very few people are naturally good at teaching others in a classroom. Some of us come in with teaching experience as a graduate student or training experience while working in the hospitality industry that can translate to the classroom. However, many of our PhD programs have limited to no classroom training making a good teaching mentor extremely valuable. I have been fortunate to have excellent teaching mentors, both from the formalized process at my institution and from informal colleagues I have met through ICHRIE.
My challenge to those of you who feel they are good teachers is to reach out to those who are new. When starting out as a newly minted PhD in a hospitality program where you are trying to make a name for yourself, many times we struggle to ask for help. However, if someone offers their expertise, we may be more willing to accept.
For those out there who want to improve their teaching, I have a few recommendations as well. First, if you are lucky enough to be at a school with a mentorship program, take full advantage of the expertise being offered to you. As a mentor, we are there for you and want to help you improve. Next, most schools have other resources to help improve your teaching. We have the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, a center on campus that helps elevate the teaching across campus. ICHRIE has also been working to increase offerings for those wanting more teaching development. Look at the exciting opportunities being offered each year at our summer conference. Finally, the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute offers a Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE) program that can help provide tools and ideas for improving your teaching skills. These workshops are offered around the world, find one close to you or in a location you want to travel.
Try not to only get caught up in the importance of research. We also need to continuously improve our teaching abilities because our students, and our industry, are counting on us.