The purpose of this study is to investigate mentorship practices during the COVID-19 pandemic and to consider how mentorship could be improved to support students of educational leadership (EDLE) during crises.
Participants in this collective self-study were four faculty members (i.e. the authors) within an EDLE program in one public, research-intensive university in the southern USA. Data sources were memos, email correspondence, reflective dialogue, course evaluations and meeting notes. Analysis involved dialogic engagement among the research team to identify emergent themes.
Analysis revealed five themes that reflect our collective experiences as mentors during the pandemic. These themes were challenges created by dismantled systems; meeting students' needs for understanding, flexibility and meaningful learning experiences; evolving personal–professional boundaries; grappling with our own sense-making and well-beingness; and clarifying values and priorities.
The pandemic exemplifies the need for a deeper conceptualization of mentorship that stimulates more intimate, compassionate relationships between mentors and mentees. When mentorship is grounded in compassion, intimacy and mutual vulnerability, it demonstrates a genuine ethic of care and concern for others that is supportive of well-being and serves as a model for mentees entering the profession.
This paper extends disciplinary knowledge by focusing on the mentorship of EDLE students during crises and provides insights on how mentorship could be enacted to mutually support mentor–mentee well-being.
Funding: NoneDeclarations of interest: None
Lasater, K., Smith, C., Pijanowski, J. and Brady, K.P. (2021), "Redefining mentorship in an era of crisis: responding to COVID-19 through compassionate relationships", International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 158-172. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMCE-11-2020-0078
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