An Investigation into the need for mentoring

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Mentoring, is a sustained "one-to-one relationship between a caring adult and a child who needs support to achieve academic, career, social, or personal goals"

Mentoring varies according to the youth, time, place and relationship.

This could be explained as a relationship that supports lifelong learning. The skills mentored should be able to take the student to a level where he can function independently without the mentor.

As the Chinese Proverb goes, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". This should be the attitude of the mentor.

Need for mentoring

Students face barriers to academic and social success for many different reasons throughout the course of their education.

Consider the following scenarios :

Rita, is in the eight standard, loves algebra and always maximizes her grades in this subject. When asked what she wants to do when she gets older, she can't think of a career where she could apply her math skills, specifically algebra. And, despite having the highest marks in her class, she doesn't have confidence that she could be successful in a math or technology-related career.

What do you think are the possible reasons for this?

This may be due to : (possible reasons)

She might be interested in algebra and not geometry to the same extent.

She does not know a career that would use her algebraic skills specifically.

She considers that people choosing a career in these fields have to be overall geeks.

Meanwhile, Neil, is thinking about dropping out of school. He's already missed several weeks of class and he just doesn't see any point in trying to make up these lessons. His family is not particular about him graduating. They would much rather have his income on short temporary jobs.

What do you think are the possible reasons for this?

His thinking may be due to : (Possible reasons)

a. Family pressure on earning early

b. No finance for education

c. Education is not of primary importance-second to making a living and short term gains

d.Immediate gratification through early returns.

What can schools do to help students like Rita and Neil reach their potential?

Elicit answers from the participants.

The answer may seem obvious at first: provide them with more individual attention, more guidance, more encouragement, more support.

But is this really possible considering that the teacher is faced with overwhelming demands of increasingly diverse student needs and increasing numbers as well?

There has to be another way of tackling this situation without putting more pressure on the teacher.

For students having social or academic difficulties, or for students at risk of dropping out, mentoring programs provide friends who are personally involved in students' success and who can both encourage them and hold them accountable for going to class and getting their work done.

Here it should be noted that although mentoring is often considered to be mainly for students with low performance and limited opportunities, it is useful for gifted and mainstream students as well, providing them with opportunities to develop job and communication skills, practice decision making, and learn more about subjects that they are not so inclined to. Here the strengths of the student are recognized to build on them to further improve the weaker areas. One can combat the weak areas utilizing the strengths.

School-based mentoring programs

offer students the following possible new avenues for :

exploring educational and career paths,

stronger incentives for staying in school, and

increased confidence in their ability to succeed.

What are the challenges we face today?

The challenges we face today are that:

Caring, supportive adults tend to have less time to spend with the youth

We have large school admissions and dwindling resources. Thus teachers are unable to provide individual attention and support to each student.

With the breakup of the joint family and nuclear family, single and working parents have less time to spend with their children as they struggle to meet the time demands of work and family.

This decrease in adult involvement results in low achievers and lowered career aspirations. This is where mentoring programmes come in to increase student success.

Types of mentoring

Natural mentoring develops through relationships that form independently between students and teachers, older friends, relatives, or coaches. This may occur when

The student has gone through a bad phase and is fortunate to relate to someone at that stage or the student forms in his mind the image of a role model. He substitutes the absent figure with a person that fills in this void. This mentorship happens in the day to day lessons learnt by mentee from mentor.

Planned mentoring are relationships in which the mentee is matched with a mentor through a structured program with specific objectives and goals in mind. Planned mentoring works well having the parent, psychologist and mentor work in tandem with the student.

Mentoring normally serves the following broad purposes:

Educational or academic mentoring

Career mentoring

Life skills mentoring

Educational or academic mentoring focuses on improving students' overall academic achievement.

This programme will focus on specific school-related goals, such as

raising students' grades, improving attendance, or curbing dropout rates.

The mentors do not concentrate only on tutoring or doing homework with their mentees but includes

Greater efficacy in Oral presentations

Greater efficacy in Written presentations

Finding means of self study skills

planning realistic goals

developing right study skills, and

preparing schedules on

how to study

how to recapitulate

how to do final revision

An academic mentoring programme should include that mentors simply spend time encouraging, talking to, and becoming friends with their mentees, hoping to boost academic performance indirectly by improving students' attitudes about school, raising personal goals, giving them incentives to attend regularly, etc. It should not border on a lecture session. That is where empathy is needed.

Career mentoring helps the student develop the skills needed to enter or continue on a career path. Career mentoring programmes often pair students with adults who work in the students' general field of interest, providing students with a role model who can familiarize them with the world of work and offer guidance and support as they prepare to make the transition from school to work or higher education.

The mentor works in tandem with the counselor. The psychological testing has no value unless it is supported with the insight of a teacher mentor. Then only can the learning style and interest level be matched.

Life skills mentoring supports the student during times of personal or social stress and provides guidance for decision making. The enhancement of the Emotional Quotient results in the enhancement of the Intelligence Quotient. This means that this programme indirectly improvesacademic performance, but focuses primarily on improving student self-esteem, behaviour, and decision making ability and success in all social and interpersonal situations. This reduces peer pressure which in turn reduces gang involvement, premature sexual activity, criminal activity, and drug and alcohol abuse; and diverts their energies to social- reaching out to others, cultural, and recreational activities.

These three purposes may overlap. One may combine elements of two or all three types as they work to address multiple issues and meet diverse school and student needs.

Who is a mentor?

History

The original Mentor is a character in Homer's epic poem The Odyssey. When Odysseus, King of Ithaca went to fight in the Trojan War, he entrusted the care of his kingdom to Mentor. Mentor served as the teacher and overseer of Odysseuss' son, Telemachus.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines mentor as "an experienced and trusted adviser."

A mentor is an individual, usually older, always more experienced, who helps and guides another individual's development. This guidance is not done for personal gain.

Primarily, a mentor helps the mentee identify career goals and carry out a plan to reach those goals by sharing insights and knowledge they have gained through their experiences.

Role of a Mentor

A mentor takes on many roles.

S/he is a

Teacher : One who instructs.

Counsellor: One who advises on personal and academic problems, career choices, and the like.

Leader : One who guides or directs. This guidance or direction should be in the right path. A "learning leader" who facilitates the learning process.

Manager: One who has control or direction of a situation.

Inspirer : One who can fill or affect with a specified feeling or thought. One who can influence another positively.

This would bring us to what makes an effective mentor.

The Mentor should have great empathy. He should show compassionate understanding of others, recognizing the feelings of others, perceiving and appreciating the other's point of view.

The mentor should have a desire to help. He should be interested in and willing to help others.

The mentor should have the time and energy to devote to the mentoring relationship.

The mentor should have sufficient and up-to date knowledge and/or skill required for the concerned area of mentoring.

The mentor should be still willing to learn through the mentoring process. The mentor should not just be passing down instructions to a mentee.

The mentor should be the one who is able to listen to the mentee unceasingly.

The mentor should be a prudent teacher-Know when to talk and when to listen carefully.

The mentor should be able to think ahead and not just wait for his turn to speak.

The mentor should be the provider giving advice in the right direction.

With mentorship come responsibilities.

The mentor should:

create a positive counseling relationship. There should be open communication.

Help the mentee identify problems and solutions by leading the mentee through problem solving processes

Provide guidance based on past experience

Offers constructive feedback in a supportive way. This could be by sharing stories, including mistakes

Be honest and must solicit feedback from the mentee.

This brings us to the topic of Teacher as a mentor.

The following piece by Gerald grow sums it all:

What is a Teacher?

To a mind of flint, the teacher must be iron, and strike sparks. To the empty pitcher, the teacher becomes a well. To the fallow mind, a planter of seeds. To the cluttered mind, a gardener to weed, shape, and clear a space for growing.

To the lens, the teacher is light, and to the mind of light, a lens.

To the sleeper, the teacher is the wake-up call of birds at sunrise. To clay, the teacher is potter, sculptor, and trainer in self-shaping. To the wanderer, the teacher is a knowing guide. To the developed mind, the teacher is colleague, listener, friend.

To all, the teacher is a mirror that shows not only the self but the path and its choices, the task and its demands--the difficulties, the joys. To all and from all, the teacher is a learner, a person--and a prism through which the ordinary continuously reveals itself to be miraculous.

Whether or not we know it, teachers serve as mentors every day. Teachers are mentors, sometimes they know whom they mentor and other times, as in this case, they don't. When students talk about a person who has positively influenced them, someone who has made a huge impact on their lives, two out of five students identify a teacher - and most teachers don't even know it.

Here are some tips for teachers who aspire to be successful mentors:

Effective Listening: As mentors, teachers should spend two-thirds of the mentoring time listening. It's okay to have silence between what was said and the response. Effective listening means doing nothing else but listening, giving one's full attention to the mentee.

Meeting Location: Setting the right atmosphere and tone for mentoring is critical. The teacher's classroom is not the place to meet. The key to location is finding a neutral site, and a convenient one for both mentor and mentee, to meet. The idea is to show that now I am not teaching. It is mentor time.

Think Win-Win: Mentoring is not about "saving" students. Both teacher mentors and their mentees should benefit from the relationship. The experience gives them empathy, and actually in some cases, teachers begin to see school from their mentees' perspective.

Make It Voluntary: Mentoring rarely works when teachers are told they must mentor or when students are assigned a teacher as mentor. It needs to be voluntary. On their own, students often seek out a special teacher to serve as a natural mentor.

Time Together: Mentoring is not doing something the teacher mentor has planned out ahead; it is together finding and planning things that both mentor and mentee enjoy doing - those common interests. Be the guide.

Overcoming Obstacles: Mentees must learn to solve their own problems. Telling and solving for them is a "quick fix." Mentors guide and suggest but leave it to mentees to create their own solutions. Goal setting- Successful mentors and mentees focus on attaining winning outcomes and employ useful steps to get there. It would make the mentee more confident and self reliant.

Mentoring encourages participation in hands-on activities that encourage self-paced learning, intellectual stimulation, and self confidence. It provides an opportunity to participate in a vocational activity

Before you decide to be a mentor. These are some questions you should ask yourself honestly.

Do you want to be a mentor?

Why do you want to be one?

What is motivating you to be one, inspite of other commitments.

What do you have to contribute to the relationship-skills, knowledge, expertise,influence ?

What are your weak spots?

What would you like to happen and how far you are willing to go? Identify your needs, expectations, and limits for your relationship.

Do's

Don't's

Be clear about your motives for helping your mentee. If you're not sure yourself, the mentor will get mixed messages from you.

Don't give up. The mentee may resist at first. Persist or he may not recognize the value of what you have to offer.

Be clear about your boundaries-how much you want and are willing to give. Your mentee's needs are important but safeguard your own as well.

Do not force your opinion on the mentee. The mentee will follow automatically if it is the appropriate path. Acknowledge the uniqueness of your mentee.

Make the mentee self-reliant and not dependent. All relationships have to end and a successful mentor-mentee relationship either ends or takes a different form.

Do not have a pre-conceived plan for the final outcome of your relationship. Each mentee is unique and each path taken is unique as well.

Now it would be advisable to discuss where to draw the line.

In an effort to be helpful, some mentors exceed boundaries.

Situation 1:

Occasionally a mentee may bring the topic of money into the relationship. If there is a change in your attitude on account of this, the mentee may not be as open with you about problems, concerns, and mistakes for fear you'll withdraw your support. Sometimes it works the other way and the the mentee could even become inappropriately dependent upon you, something to avoid in all mentoring relationships.

One way of tackling this would be to say:

"I'm glad that you asked, but I have to say no. I'd like to keep our relationship strictly a mentoring partnership at this time. How about if we identify some other sources for you…. "

Situation 2:

In this case the mentee makes you do work for him that he should be doing.

The mentor could say :

"I appreciate your faith in my ability to do that task. However, this is a step I'd rather not take. I prefer supporting you in doing this important task yourself. I'll be very glad to give you feedback as you go along".

Situation 3:

Sometimes a mentoring partnership may exceed the boundaries it is intended for.

Effective mentors don't limit their helping to work-related issues. In fact, the best mentors help mentees with their total life issues and challenges. Yet, they would have to draw the line when it comes to a personal issue that the mentee is not experienced to handle. If your mentee who trusts you come to you with a problem more personal than professional, be supportive, but refer him to a professional. Know your limitations.

Here the mentor could say :

I'm glad you mentioned ____. I care very much about you and want to support you as you deal with this. But I am not an expert on this. How about if we talk with ______ on this and come up with a way you can get the assistance you need?

Building a relationship

It is important that you take time to get to know each other. Take some time to become acquainted with one another's interests, values and personal goals. This seems to help mentoring relationship gain a better start than when such activity is given a low priority. You and your mentee should reach a point where you can discuss things openly and honestly.

Skills in communication and providing feedback is critical for working together to achieve the agreed upon goals. Lack of effective communication is the greatest barrier to any healthy relationships with co-workers, friends, family, and others.

There are two types of listening: Passive and Active.

Passive Listening

Non-verbal messages through eye contact, smiles, yawns or nods are sent to the mentee. This is appropriate when

the mentor wants to express an opinion

the mentee is relating a joke or story. The mentor should not interrupt at these times.

Active Listening

This involves verbal feedback.

This may be through

questioning to find out more

relating the other's ideas in your own words.

With this you make the mentee feel that you have understood what he is trying to say.

Listening skills are crucial for a mentor-mentee relationship.

Effective listening is a skill that comes from practice and a desire to understand the other person.

Let the mentee do most of the talking before you do.

Empathise with the mentee

Do not draw conclusions immediately. Keep your emotions under control.

Keep anger under control and react to ideas, not to the person.

Focus on the main ideas. Ask questions.

Focus on the mentee's facial expression and his emphasis on certain words.

Do not be distracted. Make the mentee feel you are listening to him. Do not let your mind stray when there is a gap in the mentee's thought process. Be patient.

It is important to concentrate on the non-verbal messages like facial expressions, hand movements, body movements. Listen to how something is said. Put the mentee at ease.

Take the whole meaning. This includes feeling as well as narration of facts.

Very often there is a fine line between a mentor and a counselor. So it is important for a mentor to know what counseling entails, Counseling is helping someone look at a situation from all sides, consider the options, and letting them decide for themselves which option is the best for them. Let your mentee arrive at his or her own solutions

Some concerns :

Does this mean that the mentor has to be passive?

No. Reflect on what your mentee is saying by going over the points to make sure you understand.

How do you get them to open up?

Besides making the mentee feel at ease by relating your own stories or mistakes, one could use phrases like :

"I see, would you tell me a bit about it?"

"Would you help me better understand your feelings about that?"

"Okay. What happened?"

What do you say when asked for advice ?

Use these phrases preferably.

"From my experience,"

"The way I view the situation, "

"If I were in your situation, I would consider.."

What do you do if they stop talking?

Do not try to break the silence, but it is better to let your mentee restart and continue the conversation at their own pace.

What do you do if they become emotional?

Let them work through the feelings. Afterwards they may feel embarrassed. If the mentee wants to discuss it, let him or her talk freely.

How do you help your mentee to learn ?

What you impart

should be relevant - the mentee needs to know why they are learning something.

should be goal oriented

should be practical

There are a variety of activities that can be used to meet the learning needs.

Some learning strategies :

In the classroom :

Let the mentee follow an experienced person as he goes about his daily work and observe the way they work. Discuss what has been observed to draw out the learning.

Select an idea or process and set up a situation in which the idea can be tried out and evaluated before being implemented.

Let the mentee move into another position for a time with a view to learning new skills and/or finding out if the area is suitable for a future career move.

Let the mentee become part of a project team set up for a purpose that is in line with the mentee's needs. This may be for the purpose of gaining new knowledge (academic), or to learn how to work as part of a team (life skills).

The mentee may work with a more experienced person with coaching skills to pass on their knowledge.

The mentee may learn by experimentation. Reflect on the experience and regularly discuss this with the mentor.

The mentee may assume a role while someone is out of class (on sick leave). For example, fill in for a player in a team or a captain.

The mentee may give presentations on various topics or teach. Teaching is one way of learning.

Out of the classroom

Take the mentee on visits to areas of interest.

Introduce the mentee to articles, books, journals, other publications, web sites, etc. and set aside time to discuss what has been learned

and how it may be applied.

Arrange for experts to visit and talk with the mentee in his area of interest.

The mentee may volunteer for Social Service.

Implementing a mentoring programme :

There is no one right way to go about developing a school-based mentoring program, there are a number of steps schools need to take in order to get a programme to run smoothly.

1. Getting started

Careful planning should be emphasized. A steering committee should be appointed to be take charge of planning the mentoring program. The planning committee should spend time on developing

Programme goals,

identify support,

and locate staff

for the mentoring program before making contact with potential mentors and mentees.

Issues to be discussed include:

Goals and objectives-

Assess school needs and identify the programmes target group and objectives.

Infrastructure-

Think about programme structure and staff needs.

Who will coordinate the program?

What kind of support will the program coordinator(s) need?

Depending on the size and scope of the programme, it may take more than one full-time staff person to

recruit mentors and mentees,

Conduct trainings,

facilitate matches between mentors and mentees

support mentors,

solicit funding

and oversee daily programme operations.

If it is a large school then there is a necessity for multi-school programmes for which each area may need to designate area coordinators and an overall programme coordinator.

Keep in mind that running an effective mentoring programme will require a great deal of time, skill, and energy-relying solely on the goodwill of volunteers to run the program is likely to burn people out and quickly compromise the mentoring programme's effectiveness

Logistics-Discuss what the mentoring relationship will look like: how long will relationships last? When, where, and how often will students and mentors meet

It often takes up to six months for mentoring relationships to develop-for greatest effectiveness, mentors and mentees should meet for an hour or more each week for at least one full school year (Freedman & Baker, 1995).

Having students and mentors meet on school premises under supervision of the staff is cost-effective but may restrict privacy.

It would be advisable to ask parents /guardians to sign a consent form agreeing to allow their child to participate in the mentor programme.

Funding-Calculate any costs and identify funding sources. This funding could also be utilized for initiating scholarships for various target groups..

Invite support for the programme from parents, teachers, administrators, and the community. (professionals, vocational institutions, companies).

2. Recruitment and screening

Once you have identified the program's target group and objectives, you will need to devise strategies for identifying appropriate participants.

Mentees:

Develop a system for identifying and selecting mentees. See the target student, and ask classroom teachers and counselors to identify students within the target group.

Have a meeting with parents and potential mentees outlining the program goals, structure, and expectations

If students are unwilling to participate or are unable to commit to meeting regularly with a mentor, try as best ot motivate or give them incentives to attend.

Solicit co-operation from the parents as far as possible. Have them sign a consent if necessary

Recruiting mentors:

Identify the qualities you are looking for in mentors and what your expectations of them will be:

how much time will mentors need to commit to the program?

what skills and experience should they possess?

Decide where you will look for mentors. Do you want to recruit mentors from within the school (teachers, administrators, and older students), from the community (volunteers from local businesses, community organizations, and colleges), or from both the school and the community

Have a meeting for prospective mentors outlining the programme goals and objectives .

Carefully screen volunteers. Ask them to provide information on their experience working with young people, their motivation for becoming a mentor, and the types of students they are interested in working with. It is also important to check applicants' references.

Choose volunteers who have good communication and inter-personal skills and who can commit to meeting regularly with their mentee for the duration of the program

Pairing a young person with an unskilled or inappropriate mentor can be discouraging and damaging to the mentee .

3. Training mentors

Mentors should be trained on the following :

Mentoring program goals and objectives

Strategies for developing effective mentoring relationships

Methods of building trust with mentees

Listening and communication skills, including training on different styles of communication

Basic information on youth development: what is reasonable to expect from mentees, how students of specific age groups learn and communicate, and what challenges and issues students targeted by the mentoring program may be facing

Cultural awareness and diversity training

4. Matching mentors and mentees

Student needs: Matches should be made with each student's individual needs in mind. Mentors should be able to empathize with their mentee and tailor activities according to the mentee's interests and goals

Common interests: While it is not necessary for students and mentors to have similar personalities, it is important that they share some common interests.

Convenience: Students and mentors must be available to meet at the same times and live within reasonably close proximity of each other or their meeting place if they will be meeting off campus.

Race and gender: The race and gender may not necessarily be the same between mentor and mentee, but sometimes it makes the parents and mentee feel more comfortable and avoids cultural misinterpretations and misunderstandings between students, mentors, and parents .

Background: Successful role models are generally mentors who are from similar backgrounds or who have successfully overcome obstacles similar to those the mentees are facing .

Remember:

It takes time to build a relationship and a productive relationship is built on a positive start.

Mentoring is an ongoing programme

Decide where, when, and how often mentors and mentees will meet.

Arrange and confirm mentor/mentee meetings.

There should be a check like an attendance register to confirm that the meetings are taking place regularly.

Check in frequently with mentors, mentees, and parents to ensure that the mentoring relationship is positive and productive If a match doesn't appear to be working out after the first few meetings, assign the student a different mentor

Provide adequate support and communication structures for mentors. Hold regular meetings in which mentors can discuss their experiences, voice concerns, and get feedback from programme staff and fellow mentors.

Provide incentives to mentors and mentees for their achievements and participation in the program .

Mentoring relationships should end on a positive note. The end may be due to mentors and mentees choosing to leave the program, moving from the area, or reaching the end of the planned mentoring program..

Evaluate the programme frequently. It helps in inviting support and funding.

Some effective strategies :

Pairing students with teachers

pairing students with adult volunteers

For example students in need of career direction, mentoring programs can pair them

with professionals who can familiarize them with the world of work, serve as role models, and bolster confidence.

Mentoring can target any segment of the school population. It is not necessarily a prerogaritive of the middle and high school students . As Lengel rightly points out that "personal attention should begin early-before poor study habits or negative behavior have a chance to become well-established and potentially destructive" (Lengel, 1989). It would be advisable to catch 'em young.

Mentoring can be directed to any student. There is no rule that only certain students need to be mentored. But this apart mentoring programmes may be directed toward :

Gifted students :

These are students who have an overall ability or an extra ability in a specific area. The mentor should be able to discern this and help him build on his strengths. Career planning can be done keeping in mind the ability and in the process the student builds on his life skills.

Linguistically challenged students

These are students who come from another area and speak the native tongue at home. Language being an impediment the grades suffer as the student is unable to express himself. This causes disinterest and dissatisfaction and not tended to early may result in drop-outs.

Minority students

These are students who fall in to a specific background that may not be the general background of the class. These students suffer from low self-esteem and have to be encouraged to build on their abilities.

Female students

Today the gap between male and female may be decreasing but in small towns and in areas where male dominated societies prevail, it is still an impediment for the girl child to be educated. Other female issues of having to work at home and study and general apathy on the part of parents may deter the education of a female student.

Students from single-parent homes

Single parents are generally preoccupied in performing dual roles and playing substitute fathers or mothers. Earning for the family leaves them little time to give that extra care to a child.

Students from low-income homes

These students suffer from low self esteem and the inability to afford various conveniences leaves them little time to study.

Students with low self-esteem, limited social skills, or behavioural problems

These students may not necessarily fall in the above categories but maybe students who have itall.

Low-performing students, or students who need help in specific academic areas, such as reading or math

These are students who have a learning disability in a particular area. Other intelligences, as Harvard Gardner maintains, may be developed to combat this.

Students who need encouragement in order to apply to college, enroll in vocational training, or find work

In certain families are livelihood are more important than a college education. Earning for the family rather than spending on learning takes precedence, not realizing that better education leads to sustained careers, better job opportunities and better standard of living.

Any other students with specific unmet needs .

Here we could also include challenges faced by differently abled students

Effective Mentoring

The effectiveness of any mentoring program depends largely on individual circumstances: student needs and interest, parental and administrative support, and the amount of time and effort put into planning and supervising the program. :

Give yourself ample time to organize and put the program together. It may take a while to build a large group of committed and reliable mentors.

The program should last at least a full school year.

Staff should be adequate. Do not rely on volunteers or temporary staff.

Avoid making students feel they are being chosen for the pro-gram because there is something wrong with them or because they are "problem" students .. The mentoring program should always be referred to positively, as an opportunity for students to try new things and learn new skills .

Be clear with both students and parents about why the student was selected to participate in the program and what the pro-gram aims to achieve. Parents unfamiliar with the mentoring program may assume their child is being assigned a mentor because the school views them as inadequate parents .

Students should provide their input and ideas to the program activities, goals, and structure.

Make sure that goals are within reach. Short-term goals will provide necessary encouragement. .

Encourage mentors to relate to their mentees as a friend, not as a "teacher or preacher" The most successful mentoring relationships are those in which the mentor focuses primarily on developing trust and friendship with his or her mentee

Keep in mind that all relationships may be easy.

And finally, avoid creating extra work for teachers. Mentoring programs should not place an additional burden on teachers or other school staff because this could deter the teacher from performing proper mentoring if she views it as a task.

`The most exciting thing about school-based mentoring programs is that they have to be fitted to the constantly changing needs of individual students, communities, and schools. Whether students need help making career choices, avoiding high risk behaviours, or negotiating cultural differences in a new school, mentoring is one way schools can provide students more individual attention and ensure they aren't left to face those challenges alone.

Benefits of mentoring

How does mentoring benefit students?

Student mentoring programs vary widely in scope, structure, and length of involvement. It is difficult to measure mentoring's effectiveness .

Benefits for students include:

Improved academic performance

Increased attendance rates

Higher number of students enrolling for college and aspiring for higher studies.

Better attitudes about school -less drop-outs, drug and alchohol abuse

Well adjusted men and women in society

Increased career awareness and ability to make career and vocational choices

Career satisfaction and improved performances

Enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence

Improved behaviour, both at home and at school

Improved relationships with parents, teachers, and peers

Enhanced social, communication, relationship, and decision making skills

But the benefits do not stop at the mentee. The mentor too receives benefits such as

Forming friendships with young people

The immense satisfaction of having contributed to the betterment of an individual and in turn to the society.

Opportunities to enhance personal strengths and develop new skills

Benefits for schools include:

Lower dropout rates

Improved image of the school in the community

Increased community support

The key word for the mentor is CHANGE

People are afraid to make changes in their life and mentors recognize opportunities to grow.

Steps to change

Build an awareness

The mentor should make the mentee aware of options, goals and solutions.

Create a desire

The mentor should develop a desire and willingness on the part of the mentee to choose these options.

Share know-how

The mentor should share his knowledge with the mentee. The mentor should not feel threatened by imparting his skills. There should be a free flow of know-how.

Teach skills

The mentor should teach the mentee the relevant skills to achieve his goal.

Offer support

The mentor should always be ready and willing to offer the necessary support, be it in performing a task or undoing mistakes.

Change is tough in the first couple of weeks. But the results later make up for that.

There should be a constant reinforcement of values. People often carry the solution to their own problems. Reinforce new behaviour. Co creation synergy creates greater strengths and always believe in the positive qualities of the mentee

Some exercises with sample answers.

The trainer elicits answers from the participants.

Exercise 1:

Mentoring programme for gifted students

What age group will you select?

Students of standards 8-10

How will you select the students?

Qualifying test and consistent grades

What will be your objective?

Objective: To help students choose a career they have a strong interest in.

What will the mentor offer?

Give the student hands-on experience that helps him to focus on their career aspirations

Offer enrichment opportunities beyond what is offered in a regular classroom

Help the student decide his course of further study.

Keep the mentorship flexible yet structured

Provide students with mandatory training (i.e. communication skills, problem-solving strategies, and tips on how to dress professionally) that prepares them for the experience

Exercise 2

Mentoring programme for female students

What age group will you select?

Female students of standard 9 and 10

How will you select the students?

Students who are interested in the programme (motivation is necessary) or recommended by a teacher, counsellor or parent.

What will be your objective?

Objective : To understand that what they learn in school is applicable in the real world for career options

What will the mentor offer?

Be a role model.

Give accounts of other women who have successfully pursued a career

Build life skills like goal setting and decision making.

Show how to combat prejudices and obstacles faced at home

Teach time management and other skills to build confidence

Exercise 3

Mentoring programme for linguistically challenged students

What age group will you select?

Any age group

How will you select the students?

With an English language testing

What will be your objective?

Objective: To help students who speak a native language at home improve their grades by improving their English language skills (presuming that the medium of instruction is English)

What will the mentor offer?

Work on literacy activities together.

Help the student relate language to his subjects

Provide students with training on communication skills and problem-solving strategies.

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