Mentoring Program for Junior Cycle Students
The following will outline the most appropriate and effective way in mentoring first years students at second level education aged between 12 and 13 years of age. The pupils will be mentored by a teacher of the staff and will have time allocated each week to meet the mentor to discuss and navigate through the issues that are at hand. Acting as a positive role-model for the mentee is of great importance so avoid inappropriate comments and criticisms. Relying on our behaviour as an influence over our instructions. Relying on our competence over the reflecting moral issues they are possibly opposed with. Know that the school code of behaviour should respectively still apply to these meetings. The following will outline what is expected from a mentor.
What is Mentoring?
The basic initiation to an induction programme for new mentors needs to start with the basics of what is a mentor. The mentor is a guide to mentees who are currently are or may encounter obstacles in their adolescents. To get the full comprehension of what the role of a mentor is, its definition from various sources needs to be researched.
Confidentiality should be respected at all times from the mentor unless there is an issue that arises that may cause harm to anyone involved inside or outside the mentoring process.
‘Mentoring is defined as being concerned with ‘growing an individual’, both professionally and personally. It is linked with professional and career development, and is somewhat characterised by an ‘expert–novice’ relationship.’
Mentees between the age of 12 and 13 are in between leaving the third entering the fourth and final stage of Jean Piaget’s fourth stage of development; concrete operational and formal operational. This period sees adolescent thinks critically. However not all reach this stage and is is up to the role of the mentor in this case is to understand this transition before they mentor the 12-13 year olds. ‘Piaget concluded that the systematic approach indicated the children were thinking logically, in the abstract, and could see the relationships between things.’
What are the challenges?
‘The main challenges centre around time and workload pressures and the demanding requirements of the mentor or coach role. Challenges concerned with understanding and expectations, gaining the commitment of the workforce, the profile of the workforce and the workplace culture are also identified. Potential conflict between adviser and assessor roles is highlighted.’
However mentoring should be seen as a positive challenge we can use to ensure students who are in need of mentoring fully achieve what they are capable of and are guided through the obstacles they may encounter at their young age.
What is involved?
In order to establish a strong connection with the pupil, the mentor needs to commit themselves and establish times, create activities and develop the mentee‘s attributes. Our goal as a mentor is to promote the psychological well being and the confidence in the pupils if necessary. In order to mentor a pupil, the mentor himself must be trained for the role. Time should be taken therefore to illustrate to the mentor as to what is required.
‘The young people of today must cope with far more personal and social pressures than any other previous generation of youth. Early intervention through a structured mentor relationship may be able to give young people the tools and support they need to deal effectively with these pressures.’
It is best to know exactly what is going on with the mentee before the programme beings and to know why exactly the mentee needs the mentor.
On top of examining reports on the mentee, try and see what the mentee is like in clas. If the mentor already teaches the pupils, this will provide an advantage to allow the mentor to understand what issues the pupils may have and how they interact in learning environments and how they deal with instruction and socialising. Preparation is key for this programme. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
If a student is to require mentoring they should have a specific time of a week allocated to meet with the mentor. A second, back up time should also be assigned in case of absences from with mentor or mentee during the week. The length of time spent with the pupils would also need to be addressed. Idealy 20-30 minutes each week would be a sufficient length of time to meet mentees each week for the program.The schedule for the year should be constructed with the pupil if possible. It would give them more control over when they would please to be taken for a mentoring session.
Order and routine is very important for the pupil being mentored. Adolescents need routine. It is a very important for any young learner and it is even more important that the mentor sticks to a set routine and does not falter. A well kept and organised routine is important as it allows the pupil to understand what is going on better and knows what to expect usually.
Variety & environment:
Even with a routine in place, ensure that it is not a repeated session each week. Although conversing with the mentee is important, different activities such as walks around the school or using computer rooms. The environment the mentor meets the mentee should not feel claustrophobic or uncomfortable. Instead select places such as libraries or resources rooms where a more relaxed and positive atmosphere is provided for the mentee. They need to feel secure and comfortable for the programme to work. Both formal and informal sessions should be taken. These are important factors to allow the mentor to bond and see what the mentee is interested in or perhaps what they can become interested in.
Although not completely necessary, the mentor can do is share our own hobbies. The mentor has the responsibility for managing the process. Although the input from the mentee is important, we can utilise and share our own skills, whether is is meditation, being active through sport or walking and encouraging the mentee to pursue these activities if, and only if, they are engaged with the concept. We are not instructing the mentee, but instead showing them different things they may enjoy. This is important because if we think to our own stressful times, what helped us get through them? Stress burners are a necessity for everyone to succeed in their endeavours.
Necessary Characteristics of a Mentor:
‘The mentoring or coaching relationship is critical for effectiveness. Key aspects include the promotion of reflective practice and development of a reciprocal collaborative learning relationship. It can be be beneficial for the mentor to be independent or even from a different sector.’
One valuable and essential trait of a mentor is for them to be reliable. Students need to be able to trust the mentor and know that the mentor is there for them is they need to discuss a personal or even school related manner such as social issues or difficulties with particular subjects.
Communication is vital for almost every profession and mentoring is no different. A good communicator is not just somebody with the capabilities of speaking those too with the ability to listen to what others are saying. The verb to listen is of utmost importance with regard to mentoring because it shows that we are empathetic and sympathetic to the pupils issues.
In chinese the verb to listen is represented by a design of an ear, and eye, a heart and a symbol for undivided attention. It illustrates the true value of the verb and the necessity of being able to listen to those around us and furthermore a mentor must engage in active listening.
Our ability to speak to the pupil is important but to communicate we must show we can listen, be attentive, don’t interrupt and show interest in their concerns.
Good Posture: People can in ways be defined by how the move and how they stand. A good stance and posture reflect on a proper state of mind. For a mentor, it is not just about standing up straight, but instead showing an approachable posture which communicates that you will listen to what the pupil needs to say. Sit at a forty degree angle when talking to the mentor. Show a relaxed position, not having your arms folded and ensure to illustrate that you are attentive.
Adaptable: The mentor should not distinguish between mentees. Although there is no denying some mentees will he different to others, it is up to the mentor to be able to adapt to to the needs, cultures, ethnicities and other distinctions that a mentor may encounter.
Behaviours to avoid:
Questioning and probing:
This can make the mentor appear more as an irritant than an ally. A mentor should be able to understand the behaviour of the pupil by listening attentively to whatever they do say and being able to summarise that they are sometimes trying to say. Constant questioning may be harmful as it may make the pupils feel they are under pressure or interrogation which is not the feeling the mentor needs to illustrate.
The least amount of judging we can do, the better off we are. Again, the mentor is not the disciplinarian. They are there to listen to the pupil and not make them feel worse about certain things they have done or are thinking of doing. We do not need to talk down to the pupil. It is important to develop our empathetic skills and learn to summarise what the child is really doing by immoral choices; whether it is a cry for help or just a plea for attention. Either way it is our job to go past the exterior actions of the mentee and receive a deep understanding of their struggle.
It is the role of the year head or their equivalent in the respected school to discipline students if need be. Bad behaviour, disrespect from the mentees in the school can be addressed by the mentor, but it is not their job to critique the mentee and make them feel worse about themselves. We have to be sympathetic to the pupils, again falling back on an ability to listen and display our ability to understand what the mentee is going through. With that being said, avoid advice giving or providing autobiographical anecdotes about ourselves as we are not molding the child after ourselves and we do not need to develop a personal connection by telling stories from our own lives.
Reflecting back to the importance of posture, the mentor‘s job is to listen. If we often interrupt we eliminate the mentees chance to express their concerns or thoughts on certain matters. If we carry on interrupting the mentee will give up relying on us as their mentor. Interrupting is not effective for communication and it is always best to ensure the mentee says what they need to say even if it is something that needs to be immediately addressed. The mentee needs to know that they can talk to you and approach you if they are having difficulties.
The role of a mentor is a big responsibility. It needs to be treated properly. On each session, the mentor should record and reflect on how the meeting went. Choose 2 things that went well and 2 things that need to be improved on. There is a great importance
Not every child will be saved, that is one lesson we have to accept because all we can do is our best. Trusting people is never easy, but the programme is not made to make things easier, instead it acts as a guide to clarify that a mentor needs to be before and during the course of the programme. “It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela
Anyone can become a mentor. It is not a question of appearance or abilities, instead it is a question of will and dedication. ‘All we have to decide is what to do with the time given to us.’
There are numerous different ways in which we can view a mentor. The Mentor as a sponsor in accordance to Hobson and Sharp sees the programme as a way to introduce the mentee to the right people. Power and control is not shared. Mentor has a primary responsibility.
Our own inspirational leaders can help inspire us into understanding the best way to manage this program and further develop our understanding of the role of a mentor.
At the end of it all. the mentor is not the expert. They will learn as much about themselves from the process as the mentee will. ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ Our added years of experience over the mentee does not make us superiors, instead we are guiders, the voice of reason, the calmer. Jean Piaget examined in his stages of faith development that adolescents are at a crucial stage between the ages of 11-14 as they are entering a time where their original set of beliefs and moral lessons maybe coming under criticism. The transition stage of child into teen is tough for anyone to overcome but with guidance and a point i the right direction it can be overcome.
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