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Homer created the original character, Mentor; however, the archetype of Mentor as a benevolent sage has been attributed to French writer and educationalist Francois Fénelon’s 15 th century account of Homer’s classic tale Les Adventures de Télémaque ( Roberts, 1999; Murray, 2001; Tenner, 2004). According to Murray (2001), mentor, first cited as a common noun in 1750, is assumed added to the Oxford English Dictionary as the result of the popularity of Fénelon’s Mentor, whose attributes, functions and behaviors have become synonymous with the modern day usage of the term mentor and the action of mentoring, rather than Homer’s minor character.

Mentoring Contemporary Definition . There are a variety of definitions of mentoring. Zellers et al. 2008) traced the evolution of mentoring programs in the United States in business and academe. They reported that early investigators assigned dimensions to mentoring (Sands et. al, 1991). Some authors divided the role of mentor into four roles of sponsor, coach, role model, and counselor and then attributed the collective function of these roles to mentoring (Clutterbuck&Lane, 2004; Daloz, 1999; Luecke, 2004; Murry, 2001). More than a decade ago, Daloz (1999) defined a mentor’s role as “engineering trust, issuing a challenge, providing encouragement, and offering a vision for the journey” (p. 31). Through their extensive search for a contemporary definition, Zellers et al. (2008) coined the following definition, “…mentoring is a reciprocal learning relationship characterized by trust, respect, and commitment in which a mentor supports the professional and personal development of another by sharing his or her life experiences, influence, and expertise” (p. 555).

A standard definition for a mentor is someone who counsels and teaches, who know things and can be trusted (Byrne-Jiménez, 2009). However, according to Clutterbuck and Lane (2004): “To some extent, definitions do not matter greatly if those in the role of mentor and mentee have a clear and mutual understanding of what is expected of them and what they should in turn expect of their mentoring partner” (p. xvi).

Transitioned Practitioners Sharing Their Experiences. Education administrators who have transitioned to tenure-track assistant professors have shared their experiences in published practitioner journals, books, and conference sessions. Robin Fankhauser (2009), guest columnist for the American Association of School Administrators’ (AASA) journal, The School Administrator, outlined ten painful discoveries he made in his transition from 19 years as a public school leader before beginning his second career as an assistant professor in an education leadership program at a state university. He shared his reflections on ten things about work life in higher education that he learned the “hard way.” They were: (1) you will no longer be the king or queen of everything; (2) your office will be smaller than your college dorm room; (3) nothing happens quickly; (4) no one will remind you of upcoming appointments or help you to prepare for a meeting; (5) you will make more money-per hour; (6) you will do research; (7) your leadership skills will be discovered; (8) you will find out that schools of education are like Rodney Dangerfield ‘they don’t get no respect’; (9) no day on campus will ever be as bad as even a mediocre day during your time in the superintendency; and (10) you really will touch the future. Within ten short statements Fankhauser captured the changes the transitioning assistant professor feels: Changes in position, power, time, duties and responsibilities.

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Source:  OpenStax, Education leadership review special issue: portland conference, volume 12, number 3 (october 2011). OpenStax CNX. Oct 17, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11362/1.5
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