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Self-Mentoring is introduced in N.C. Schools Carr Becomes Fulbright Specialist

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Invisible Leader: A Self-Mentoring Guide for Higher Education

Marsha Carr will bring Self-Mentoring™ to the U.K. this summer as a Fulbright Specialist partnering with York St. John Business School in York, England. Carr, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, has the innovative program on a fast track. Just 18 months ago, in August 2012, she began a study on the effectiveness of self-mentoring in partnership with Duplin County Schools. This school year, the Duplin project has expanded and five additional school-based studies have been launched across the state. Carr’s plans include growing self-mentoring in North Carolina schools and exploring applicability in other markets. The ultimate goal is to internationalize the concept and expand beyond education to new fields including business and the military. Carr recently trademarked the concept, and she’s beginning to build national awareness through participation in webinars and conferences. In July, she will introduce Self-Mentoring™ to the business community through work overseas as a Fulbright Specialist.

The Fulbright Scholarship Program, established in 1946, is a U.S. government program designed to foster international collaboration on a wide range of projects. Since its inception, the program has provided almost 310,000 participants the opportunity to study, teach and exchange ideas in 155 countries worldwide. Fulbright Scholarship positions are prestigious but require a six-month to one-year commitment, often a luxury in today’s fast-paced environment. Recognizing this, the government introduced a Fulbright Specialist Program that promotes linkages between U.S. scholars and professionals and their counterparts overseas for shorter periods of time. Grants for two to six-week collaborative projects are now available to qualified U.S. faculty and professionals with demonstrated expertise in select disciplines.

Marsha CarrIn 2013, Carr applied and was accepted to the Fulbright Specialist Program, with a specialty in self-mentoring. Last fall, York St. John Business School contacted Carr with interest in the program and plans are underway to collaborate on business applications for the program this summer.

The self-mentoring concept originated when Carr arrived at UNCW in 2010. Despite a diverse background that includes a degree in art, a brief stint as an elementary school art teacher, work as a school superintendent and a doctorate in business, Carr found the transition to her role in higher education challenging. To adapt, she used her leadership skills and experience to conduct research, collaborate with individuals in her professional network and reach out to build new ties with WCE faculty as a means of bridging the gap. It worked. Reflecting on the experience, Carr realized what she was doing was effectively “self-mentoring” and began to explore ways to further develop the concept to benefit others.

The idea behind self-mentoring is that we’re all responsible for our own learning and there are tangible steps we can take to maximize success. Broadly these steps include developing a plan that includes observations, professional networking and self-reflection in order to learn the culture of an organization and build ties to individuals in it. What Carr offers is a proven process for accomplishing this. When working with partnership school administrators and teachers, Carr advises them to start small. She says, “Everyone has goals. Just pick one and use the process of self-mentoring as a means to achieve it.”  She’s a proponent of using videotaping for observable self-critique, along with quantitative data to measure results.

Carr’s published work on the topic includes “The Invisible Teacher: A Self-Mentoring Sustainability Model” published in 2011 followed by “The Invisible Leader: A Self-Mentoring Guide for Higher Education” in 2012. The initial study conducted in partnership with Duplin County was labor-intensive, and as Carr looks to expand the program she is also seeking ways to scale it. A pilot, designed as a “train the trainer” program, recently introduced in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools is promising. Carr has shared her materials and holds bi-monthly WebEx meetings to mentor 60-80 teachers, helping them set goals and chart progress.

Other efforts to expand and scale the Self-Mentoring™ program include work on a “How To” book that Carr hopes to publish by summer and an app that she hopes to launch in the fall.  In the meantime, Carr is proud to be a new Fulbright Specialist and looking forward to her work with York St. John Business School in England.

For more information on Self-Mentoring™ contact Carr at selfmentoring@uncw.edu