Guest Post Archive

Allison McWilliams: Reflect on learning

Allison McWilliams

Allison McWilliams

Allison McWilliams is assistant vice president, mentoring and alumni personal & career development. She writes occasional articles for Inside WFU. This is her fifth for the spring semester.  In each, she shares observations and suggestions with faculty and staff from her professional experiences with students.

“Habit rules the unreflecting herd.” – William Wordsworth

I love this quote from William Wordsworth. Another way of putting it, from the inimitable words of Rick and Morty, “Think for yourselves, don’t be a sheep.”

Both of these quotes sum up the last and final element of effective mentoring conversations:

  • How are you being intentional with the choices and decisions that you are making?
  • How are you setting goals and taking actions to pursue them?
  • How are you seeking out feedback from mentors and wise counselors on your choices, decisions, and goals?
  • And, how are you intentionally reflecting on what you are learning?

Reflection is critical to the educational process as a whole, and, critical to any effective mentoring conversation.

The mentoring conversation model is based upon experiential learning models: first, I identify a challenge, problem, or an issue; second, I set a goal and determine needed action steps; third, I take some action; and, fourth, I reflect on what I have learned and how I can apply that new knowledge in the future. The difference, in mentoring, is that the reflection piece happens in concert with another person, who brings his or her own experience and wisdom into the conversation, for deeper connections and reflection opportunities.

Mentoring relationships are goal-oriented relationships. But they are also learning-oriented relationships. The very purpose of any mentoring relationship is to end up somewhere different than you are right now, with greater knowledge and wisdom about yourself, your strengths and values, and what comes next for you. It’s an iterative process, always feeding into the next set of goals, the next learning process. But without the learning, mentoring becomes static and one-sided.

Reflection on who you are as a person, what you value, your choices and decisions, the goals you are setting, and what you are learning, is what breaks you out of simple habit. It prevents you from following the herd without asking where are we going, how are we going to get there, and why? I don’t know about you, but I want all Wake Forest graduates to be deeply reflective people, the kind of people who question systems and processes and don’t fall into the trap of “because we’ve always done it this way” thinking.

Be intentional. Be goal-oriented. Seek out feedback. Reflect on learning. These are the four critical elements of effective mentoring conversations, of growth from adolescence to adulthood, and of truly owning one’s life.

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Categories: Guest PostInside WFU

Radio station WFDD receives Murrow Awards

This is a guest post from radio station 88.5 WFDD:

Radio station 88.5 WFDD has been honored with two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, including “Overall Excellence” and “Newscast” categories.

The Radio Television Digital News Association awards are among the most prestigious in broadcast and digital news. The Murrow Awards are the embodiment of the values, principles, and standards set forth by Edward R. Murrow, a journalism pioneer who set the standards for the highest quality of broadcast journalism.

This is the second consecutive year that WFDD has been recognized in the “Overall Excellence” category. WFDD News Director Emily McCord says the body of work included coverage of several breaking weather events, civic literacy programming in the run-up to the election, the listener-driven series Carolina Curious, and “Unsafe Haven” – a documentary that explores the housing issues the city of Greensboro faces after five refugee children were killed in an apartment fire.

“We know how important local journalism is to the overall health of a community. WFDD continues its commitment to bringing the news that we need and deserve here,” says McCord. “We are grateful for the honor and for the listeners without whom none of this would be possible.”

WFDD competes in a region that includes large market radio stations in North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Regional winners automatically advance to the national Edward R. Murrow Awards competition, with winners being announced in June.

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Categories: Guest PostInside WFU

Allison McWilliams: Seek out feedback

Allison McWilliams

Allison McWilliams

Allison McWilliams is assistant vice president, mentoring and alumni personal & career development. She writes occasional articles for Inside WFU. This is her fourth for the spring semester.  In each, she shares observations and suggestions with faculty and staff from her professional experiences with students.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

In this four-part series, I am sharing the four key questions for any effective mentoring conversation:

  • How are you being intentional with the choices and decisions that you are making?
  • How are you setting goals and taking actions to pursue them?
  • How are you seeking out feedback from mentors and wise counselors on your choices, decisions, and goals?
  • And, how are you intentionally reflecting on what you are learning?

Today we look at the important topic of feedback.

Feedback is the gift of any effective mentoring relationship. It signals that the important work of building a relationship has been done, so that the mentee is willing and able to hear what he or she needs to hear in order to improve. And, when done correctly, it ensures the continued development of trust and rapport between mentoring partners.

The problem of course, is that few of us know how to deliver feedback appropriately, and many of our students and young adults don’t know how to seek it out. And, we know that this is something they will need to be able to do for the rest of their lives. So here are some tips on how you can help with this process.

Don’t shy away from the hard conversations. You don’t do students any favors when you try to sugar-coat it or say things like “You’re doing great.” No one in the history of time has been able to do anything with “You’re doing great.” If that’s truly how you feel, give some specific examples of their greatness and how they can repeat that behavior in the future.

Use the Immediate-Objective-Impact model. To help with these conversations, try out this model: Have the feedback conversation as close to the observed behavior as possible (immediate), focus on observed behaviors or actions (objective), and describe the impact of those behaviors or actions on self or others.

Role model asking for and listening to feedback. Finally, make sure this isn’t a one-way street. Ask for feedback from your students, and role model what that looks like for them. Demonstrate how to appropriately ask for, and how to appropriately listen to and respond to that feedback.

Next time I will wrap up with some thoughts on the reflective process which is so critical to learning and growth.

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Categories: Guest PostInside WFU

Asian Heritage Month begins April 1

This is a guest post of the Intercultural Center and the Asian Heritage Month Committee:

The Intercultural Center and the Asian Heritage Month Committee are proud to share the 2019 Asian Heritage Month calendar of events, which kicks off April 1. This year’s WFU theme is “More Than Meets the Eye.” Through this theme, our goal is to highlight the vastly diverse experiences of what is often depicted as a homogeneous identity. Through a variety of programs and events, we aim to explore the rich intersectionality that exists within Asian, Pacific Islander, & Desi American communities–both on campus and beyond.

The month starts with a six-day “Taste of Asia” week, hosted by the Asian Interest Student Association (ASIA). Each day will showcase a food or dessert from an Asian culture. Our keynote this year will feature Kane Diep, who has produced and directed over 200 videos at BuzzFeed over the past four years. This will take place on April 10 at 6:30 p.m. in Pugh Auditorium, Benson University Center.

Other events and activities planned for April include a month-long exhibit on Children’s Holidays in Japan; a dialogue on the intersections of Asian LGBTQ Experiences; Holi; the East Asian Spring Festival and a calligraphy workshop hosted by the Japanese Studies Club.

For more detailed information, including calendar of events, visit our website.

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Categories: EventsGuest PostInside WFU

Allison McWilliams: Be goal-oriented

Allison McWilliams

Allison McWilliams

Allison McWilliams is assistant vice president, mentoring and alumni personal & career development. She writes occasional articles for Inside WFU. This is her third for the spring semester.  In each, she shares observations and suggestions with faculty and staff from her professional experiences with students.

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” – Napoleon Hill

The last time I wrote in this space I shared the four key questions for any effective mentoring conversation:

  • How are you being intentional with the choices and decisions that you are making?
  • How are you setting goals and taking actions to pursue them?
  • How are you seeking out feedback from mentors and wise counselors on your choices, decisions, and goals?
  • And, how are you intentionally reflecting on what you are learning?

In this piece I would like to focus on setting goals, which is critical, as the self-help author Napoleon Hill notes in the quote above, to moving our dreams to something more tangible, something more actionable.

Mentoring relationships are goal-oriented relationships. They are always focused on, and in support of, the mentee’s goals and his or her forward progress towards achieving them. Indeed, one good self-check for mentors to make sure that you are doing the right work is to ask yourself: Is the advice that I am giving in support of my mentee’s goals and growth, or is it to make myself feel important and knowledgeable?

And on the mentee side of things, it is important to identify the goals you want to pursue before you engage with someone in a mentoring relationship. What is it that you will be working on together? Why is this person uniquely suited to help you with that goal? And, is this something that you intend to pursue, with or without the support of a mentor? These are all questions that smart mentees ask themselves.

Even if you aren’t in a formal mentoring relationship with your students, you can still help them by asking them what they are working towards. Goal-setting ensures that they are taking ownership of their growth and their time here. And, as a bonus, it is something that they will need to be able to do for the rest of their lives, so they are acquiring great professional skills along the way.

And remember, it’s not about setting a “perfect” goal, as there is no such thing. It’s about the process of identifying some desired future state, and working towards achieving it. That’s what mentoring is all about.

Next time, I’ll share some tips on seeking out and providing effective feedback, which is perhaps the heart of any great mentoring relationship.

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Categories: Guest PostInside WFU

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