Alongside of the pod meetings, each student meets individually with the instructor in mentoring sessions. Much of the role of a mentor in the TI process is to support movement, insight, and reflexivity through effective facilitation of discussion with the inquirer. Enacted through at least two mentor meetings over the course, these discussions act as check-ins, debriefs, and reflexive discourses all at the same time. The mentor activities are echoed in the pod activities as the modeling of TI radiates outwards into other discussions in the course.
There are many forms of facilitation that a mentor might employ within these one-on-one meetings. We have categorized them in two broad groups of facilitation navigation and facilitation techniques. Within each of these two categories, we noticed two major forms occurring, in situ and ex situ. In situ refers to an act of facilitation that occurs within the mentor meeting. For instance, the mentor might offer a clarifying question or a contextualization of the process of inquiry. An ex situ facilitation would be a suggestion to the inquirer to try an activity after the mentor meeting, such as an artistic exploration of their inquiry, an author to look up, or a person to connect with.
We see these two facilitation practices as being represented by a simple dendritic tree (Interactive 7.2). Notice that in situ facilitation techniques are surrounded by “the edge of counselling.” In the research on TI, we have noticed that the mentor meetings can exist on a certain uncomfortable edge. That is, students that embrace the inquiry as a highly personal exploration may find themselves discussing deeply profound challenges.
One-on-one mentor sessions create time and space for personalizing the TI process and are key to developing a TI approach, especially in the early stages. In these meetings, the mentor acts as a guide and co-investigator. They can occur during class-time or be arranged as meetings outside of class time. Depending on the level of support a learner might need and the time available, they can last from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. Below are some ways to help guide your conversation. These are not prescriptive as each situation requires responses rooted in generous listening, relational accountability, etc. When unsure, sometimes sitting for a minute or two in silence shows the way!
Keep in mind as you read the rest of this section that it is geared towards mentors of the TI process - a role we hope you might eventually take up with your peers in TI or even with future students! (see the section on Transformance).
In situ Facilitation Technique statements:
- Tell me more about that...(After a vague, unclear, or unfinished statement)
- What is it about (your questions, topic, inquiry) that really gets you fired up?
- Why do you care about your particular path of inquiry?
- How might you describe your inquiry to your grandmother?
Ex situ Facilitation Technique statements:
- Your inquiry connects well with X and Y authors, perhaps looking into their work will help you explore it further?
- Who in your community or family might provide good insights into your inquiry topic? How might they engage in being an inquiry partner with you?
- Your inquiry connects with X another student in the course. It might be useful to seek them out as an inquiry partner during the pod meetings.
In situ Facilitation Navigation:
- Draw for me where you think you are in your inquiry process (or share something from your inquiry journal).
- Consider the panarchy loop. Can you tell me where you might be on this loop? What might be significant for you about this location?
- I hear that you are struggling with an inquiry to pursue. Know that this struggle is okay and normal, and that we often need to stay in a murky swamp before finding a path.
Ex situ Facilitation Navigation:
- Look closely at your ongoing journal and Season Count images and draw a meta-version that shows your inquiry process as it changes over time.
- Build a collage to represent how you are feeling right now. This might be especially useful if you are feeling “stuck” or unable to keep the inquiry in motion.