February 2021

MER Talks: AAM’s Museum Education Mentoring Program

The American Alliance of Museum’s professional network for museum educators (EdCom) is currently recruiting mentors and mentees for the committee’s Museum Education Mentoring Program (EdMEM). Currently in its fifth year, EdMEM continues to support the next generation of museum educators by connecting them with established professionals. Applications for the program are now open and will close on Sunday, February 21st.  You can find the application, along with more information here.

Mallory Lineberger, a former mentee in the program, gave MER’s blog a brief interview about her experience in the program.

What made you seek out EdCom’s Mentoring Program?

When I transitioned to a role in museum education, my academic and professional experience centered around teaching in a high school public school setting. Although I was confident in my pedagogical knowledge and passion for working with students, I felt that I needed more support to best leverage my skills in an informal education setting. In my search for professional development opportunities for museum educators, I discovered AAM’s EdCom professional network. Attending EdCom webinars and sessions at the AAM annual meeting certainly provided me with a sound foundation of skills and knowledge to be a better museum educator, however I thought it would be beneficial to have more individual support and connection with an experienced museum educator. When I saw the application for the EdMEM program in an EdCom newsletter, I immediately applied to be a mentee!

What are some of the biggest takeaways from your experience?

The opportunity to learn from an experienced museum education professional in a one-on-one setting was incredibly valuable. During our monthly sessions, I was able to ask my mentor for advice in real time regarding programming ideas, strategies for increasing outreach, as well as receiving recommendations for additional resources or professional development related to my queries. Connecting with someone who was in a leadership position at a similar institution also provided me with an opportunity to learn from my mentor’s experience and ask for guidance on how to approach leadership about fundraising and other forms of support for our department.

As a result of my participation in the EdMEM program, I felt more connected with AAM and a strong network of museum educators from across the country who participated in EdMEM and EdCom. My growing network allowed me to collaborate with museum educators from other institutions on projects, conference presentations, and organizational partnerships that have expanded the reach of my institution to provide educational programming to a national audience.

When it was time to start recruiting the next EdMEM cohort, I felt compelled to give back to the program that had provided me with so many benefits. The year after I was I mentee I signed on to be a coordinator for several pairs of mentors and mentees. My involvement in volunteering in this role is what led me to apply for the EdCom Steering Committee last year. I am now an At-Large member of the EdCom Steering Committee, supporting the EdMEM program in a leadership role. 

What would you say to someone who is considering being a mentee?

If you are thinking about being a mentee, I would say “go for it!” When filling out your application, think carefully about your career goals and what you hope to get out of participating in the EdMEM program. Providing specific details in your application will help us to create the best possible match for you and your potential mentor. I would also encourage future mentees to prepare for meetings with your mentor by having a list of questions or areas where you need professional guidance or support. Like many things in life, you will get out of EdMEM what you put into it! Advocate for yourself and provide your mentor with information about your current role and future goals so that they know how to best support you.

Mallory Lineberger is an experienced museum educator who is passionate about creating innovative, equity-focused educational programming for students and teachers. Mallory’s museum experience includes developing and facilitating educational programming at the LBJ Presidential Library as well as creating distance learning programming at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, Texas. She fell in love with using museums and public spaces as her classroom guiding tours for families and children through the museums and historic neighborhoods of Paris, France.

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