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Department of Mathematics

Past Mentors

Here are some thoughts on the program from some of our past mentors.

Headshot of Victoria

Victoria Chebotaeva (2022-2023)

"The Mentor program is not only about helping second years to teach their own course, but about critical reflecting. I like how our meetings birth new interesting questions or ideas we can all think about. I try to prepare them for some challenges they could have in the class. I like how observations and post-observations talks help peers to make class more comfortable for them to teach and their students to study.  We are learning how to teach from each other. While I help them to reflect on their own teaching process, I am reflecting on mine."

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McKenzie Black (2022-2023)

"The peer mentor program has been an irreplaceable part of my journey as an educator. Starting as a novice instructor, having the support from not only my peer mentors but also my fellow novice instructors encouraged me to try new approaches and feel validated in my struggles as a first-time instructor. As a peer mentor, I was able to share my passion for teaching while also learning from the novice instructors. While observing other instructors, I was able to see new teaching and class management techniques that I then implemented into my own classroom. I hope to continue supporting and learning from my fellow educators at USC!"

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Bailey Heath (2022-2023)

"Serving as a peer mentor broadened my horizons as an educator through the critically reflective conversations about teaching that I had with fellow graduate students who brought unique experiences and perspectives to the table.  Observing and discussing other instructors’ teaching helped me to critically reflect on my own teaching, as I better understand what to look for during class and what questions to ask myself about a lesson.  The professional development and the opportunity to provide feedback to fellow graduate student instructors challenged me to distinguish between teaching practices that are more universally beneficial/detrimental and those that are simply personal preferences.  I am thankful to be a part of a teaching community that inspires each other, supports each other through difficult situations, and challenges each other to grow, and I hope to continue fostering such a community in the future!"

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Thomas Hamori (2022-2023)

"The mentor program was an indispensable resource for me as a novice instructor. Meeting with other first-time instructors under the leadership of a more experienced colleague made me feel like I had the support that I needed to accelerate my growth in the classroom. I did not expect that serving as a mentor myself would have nearly as big an impact on my teaching. As others have mentioned, I found that observing others has helped me become even more critical and reflective regarding my own teaching."

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Robert "Scotty" Groth (2021 - 2022)

"As a novice, my experience as a mentee was absolutely indispensable in terms of my development as a graduate student and instructor. In addition to functional and hands-on tools and approaches we could immediately apply the classroom, the group meetings acted as a structural and predictable touch base with my peers. I was able to get feedback on the issues I was experiencing and glean immediate insight from the successes and difficulties my fellow grad students. Most importantly, the meetings provided a sense of community, and a commitment toward our common cause of becoming better teachers. From this strong foundation, I was ecstatic to become a mentor myself, and can only hope I had as powerful an impact on my mentees as my mentors had on me. As a mentor, my teaching and pedagogical outlook were strongly impacted by my mentees' approaches, struggles, and successes. As a novice, I was honing my own craft, now, as a mentor, I was helping others hone theirs! In addition to broadening my own skillset in the classroom, my experience as a mentor deepened my appreciation, and recognition of diverse and varied perspectives on what it means to teach, and to teach effectively."

Headshot of Tommy Luckner

Tommy Luckner (2021-2022)

"As a mentor in the mentor program, you become an instructor of pedagogy for many first-year instructors. In the paper, "The relative benefits of learning by teaching and teaching expectancy", L. Fiorella and R. Richard confirmed that preparing to teach and, more so, teaching to others (the protégé effect) enhances learning when compared to traditional learning and studying. I mention this paper since being a mentor has helped me explore new ideas in teaching and develop a deeper understanding of learning that I had been missing before the mentor program. Not only this, but the mentor program provided continued professional development that helped solidify many new strategies in my teaching. Furthermore, sharing and coordinating discussion amongst small groups of first-year instructors our growing knowledge of activity learning strategies and teaching ideologies has helped everyone in the groups, including myself, overcome obstacles in the classroom and improve as educators."

Jack Dalton

Jack Dalton (2020-2021)

"The mentor program had a bigger effect on my teaching than any other professional development here at UofSC. One of the best ways to learn something is to try to teach it to someone else. Some honest viewpoints about teaching came out in the critical reflection group meetings as well as some fun ideas. That year was tough with the pandemic. Having both the meetings with Dr. Yee and the other mentors, and the observations and small group meetings with the novices, helped mitigate the loss of the sense of community in the math department. It was also rewarding seeing progress based on my constructive feedback in the novice instructors’ teaching. It felt like I was indirectly helping the undergraduate students in the classes I was observing. I wish I could participate again! "

Drew Meier

Drew Meier (2020-2021)

"The mentor program created a platform for both fledgling instructors and myself to challenge biases and develop new ideologies about teaching. The conversations were both encouraging and challenging which provided us with a breeding ground for growth. The mentor program has been an invaluable experience for me which developed leadership skills, taught me how to lead productive conversations in a professional environment, and improved my own teaching practices. Above all else, I loved seeing the improvement from the graduate student instructors in my mentor group throughout the semester. "

Cuyler Warnock

Cuyler Warnock (2020-2021)

"The mentor program provided a platform for me to engage in meaningful discussions about teaching mathematics with novice instructors. These discussions helped the mentees gain new skills and confidence in the classroom and helped me gain leadership skills and practice with conducting productive discourse on teaching. Additionally, the program challenged me to evaluate and improve my own teaching strategies. I am grateful to have participated in a program that creates a supportive, growth-fostering environment for both mentors and mentees."

Joseph Foster

Joseph Foster (2019-2020)

"To both mentors and mentees, the peer mentor program provides a wealth of opportunities to explore, discuss and reflect on all aspects of teaching. Conversations with a diverse group of new educators forces one to challenge their internal beliefs and ideologies to discover the type of teacher they are, whilst opening windows into new insights that may otherwise have gone unnoticed. You will continue to develop as a teacher throughout your career, the mentor program is great jump start to that growth, giving you an advantage over other new professionals as you transition from a graduate student to a faculty member."

Jacob Jullierat

Jacob Juillerat (2019-2020)

"Training to be a mentor has helped push me as a teacher by showing me how to critically reflect on my teaching practices. I look forward to helping guide novice instructors as they face challenges, and learn some new techniques to implement in my classroom."

Jeremiah Southwick

Jeremiah Southwick (2019-2020)

"I appreciate the mentoring program because it provides a framework to observe another instructor and then aid that colleague in their development as an educator. This is valuable both for the novice being observed and for myself, because it gives me a better idea of the questions I should be raising in my own mind as I approach the task of teaching in my own classroom."

Candace Bethea

Candace Bethea (2018-2019)

"The most valuable aspect of the mentor program for me is the chance to discuss teaching in a friendly environment in the small group meetings. Sharing ideas about both the difficulties and the exciting parts about teaching with people coming from different backgrounds and experience levels gave me a platform to think more about my own teaching beliefs and practices. Furthermore, being able to plan and, to an extent, lead meetings gave me invaluable leadership experience"

Alicia Lamarche

Alicia Lamarche (2018-2019)

"The peer mentor program has helped me grow as both a learner and a teacher of mathematics. Besides providing much needed guidance during my first semesters as an instructor, it has fostered a supportive teaching community within our math department."

Robert Vandermolen

Robert Vandermolen (2018-2019)

"Working so closely with and observing novice teachers has helped me develop classroom engagement and management techniques that I would not have seen working alone. Also, guiding the novices with active reflection has been extremely rewarding in many ways from helping novices push themselves to discovering new ideas and questioning assumptions together. Additionally the PD ran by Dr. Yee will help me reflect on and push my teaching for the rest of my career."

Duncan Wright

Duncan Wright (2018-2019)

"The mentor program has given me many skills, both teaching and non-teaching, that I would not have acquired elsewhere as a graduate student.  Through the professional development involved while preparing to become a mentor, I have learned not only what types of active-learning techniques can be implemented in the classroom and their benefits to the students, but I have also learned how to implement these techniques and incorporate them into a lesson plan.  I have also learned how to facilitate discussions about teaching practices and philosophies with other Graduate Student Instructors, allowing me to support a culture of collegiality at the university. The entire experience working with Dr. Sean Yee, the other mentors and the novices has helped me develop as an educator and I will use the lessons I have learned as a colleague and faculty member wherever life takes me next."

Gregory Clark

Gregory Clarke (2016-2018)

"The mentorship program fostered an inclusive, teaching-centered culture where novice instructors could discuss teaching problems, solutions, and philosophies. As a mentor, I observed graduate student instructors apply the teaching practices we previously discussed in group meetings to more actively engage students in the classroom."

James Sweeney

James Sweeney (2016-2018)

"The mentoring program was vital in educating me how to discuss teaching with my peers. It also turned me into a more reflective teacher that can think critically about past classes and use my own observations to improve my courses. Finally, the program gave me several new tools to use in the classroom to increase student engagement. The lessons learned in the mentoring program will continue to influence my teaching decisions for years to come."

Alexander Wiedemann

Alexander K. Wiedemann (2016-2018)

"'This program has certainly caused a shift in the department's teaching culture. Indeed, it is now common to see cooperative development of teaching practices, even outside the formality of the mentor meetings. I have learned so much, and strongly believe that my teaching has become more effective and efficient as a result of this culture of critical reflection of teaching practices. There is little debate on the importance of allowing students to reflect, practice, and work cooperatively, so it is exciting to see this trend carry upward to the instructors themselves."


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