A Mentoring Culture

Firstly, I cannot believe schools have been back for a whole month!

Today, we will be looking at a few mentoring thoughts.

Exciting news! We have a new resource! This time we are celebrating Habitudes. The title is a mish-mash of two words, Habits and Attitude. The idea is that when we create and develop the right habits and proceed with the correct attitude, we will be more successful in our day to day lives. Our first Habitudes resource is coming out soon (3rd October).

The idea for this blog did not come from me. I was influenced by a staff meeting that focused on 'peer critique'. The staff meeting was looking at peer critique, which could support the feedback we use in school. However, it was their mantra that caught my attention. 'Be Kind, Be Specific, Be Helpful'. I knew this linked with our mentoring. Let me show you how.

When I first start a mentoring relationship, I am KIND. I listen to what the young person has to say. Their subject is important. When I ask questions, I reinforce how well I am hearing. In my opinion, this is the best way to create a purposeful relationship. The amount of general knowledge I now know from listening to the children I work with is unbelievable at times. From anime cartoons like Dragon Ball Super to knowing the biggest rides in all the theme parks. I have learnt a lot from the children I work with. At the end of the day, these things are important to them, so I show an interest. I am KIND.

Once I have listened to the mentee, the relationship moves to the next level. I am SPECIFIC, I tell the child or young person why they have been referred for mentoring (please notice how I do not start with the why they are refereed. I wait until we have mutual respect.). We decide on aims (or a pledge) on how we are going to move forward. This makes sure both of us are on the same page. I will sometimes say "you have taught me about your subject, now let me teach you my subject." At this part of the mentoring relationship, I often set small SPECIFIC goals (some may call them SMART Goals) that the mentee will try and complete by the next time we meet. Usually, this is in a week. For example, be on time for school 4 days in a row or give three compliments to different children in your class.

Lastly, I am HELPFUL. Making sure the mentee has the best possible chance of succeeding. If there is a time of day where the child or young person struggles, I make myself available. I use scaffolding which will decrease as the weeks/months go on. This can be tricky to master, as you do not want to scaffold too much or too little. Too much and the child will use you like a crutch and never grow strong on their own. If the scaffold is too small, the mentee will not cope. Therefore, they will not meet their pledge. In mentoring, you want to be HELPFUL so that the child or young person can grow. You will know the mentee better than most professional so use your gut and if it goes wrong, be resilient.

This strategy builds trust and respect, which is so important. Could you imagine if this was a culture in every school? Every school had members (plural) of staff supporting those children and young people, who need someone to simply LISTEN to them, HELP them, and GUIDE them along the way. Those children or young people who have a negative view of adults and anyone who is in authority. Adults who may shout at them or hit them, or just put them down. We need more positive role models who have the time to LISTEN and to show an actual interest. Where every child or young person has someone in the school who they see as a safe person. Could a school you know or are a part of, create a culture where the most vulnerable child or young person has someone who will simply listen to them?

Look at it from the mentee's perspective, they may think the following:

"My mentor understands me, I need to go see him today." (wanting to go to school)

"Mr Mentor wants what is best for me and supports me, they say my lessons are important. Maybe I will listen in class today."

"Mrs Mentor has taught me different strategies to accomplish my goals. I feel like I can do this now!". Mentoring is powerful.

Thanks for reading. I hope this has been helpful and maybe it has given you some thoughts you can try with your children and young people. Once again, anyone who would like to speak about mentoring and how it can support your school, please give us a message.


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