I found the section “Mentors Who Evoked Us” to be particularly thought provoking. I decided to reflect on my own experience with a mentor that I had during my undergraduate degree. Palmer describes how “in this encounter, not only are the qualities of the mentor revealed, but the qualities of the student are drawn out in a way that is equally revealing.” Like Palmer, I was also the first in my family attend college. I met my mentor during my fourth semester in college. He ran his undergraduate classrooms much like graduate seminars. Instead of lecturing, we were all in a conversation. When someone said something important, he would write it on the board. He would try to provoke students into coming into answers themselves. At the beginning of every class, he would read a children’s book aloud (the class was western civilization literature part one). He liked to relax the class before we started. My mentor always said what he thought, with seemingly no holds barred. In a word, he seemed authentic. At the time, I was shy. I had trouble speaking in front of crowds (I still do, but it’s markedly better than before). I wanted to emulate his confidence.
I’ve been teaching in some shape or form for two years now. I am still growing in my style and in my classroom approach. I tended very much towards a Socratic seminar style in the literature classes that I was a TA for, and I attribute that choice to my mentor’s style of teaching. I am working on connecting with my inner teacher.