With our new non-academic Friday schedules, we're focusing on getting kids the individual help and attention they need, but also on developing relationships: teacher-student relationships as well as student-student relationships, especially focusing on our seniors. We hope to match each with a college student mentor from the campus SGA, and we have given each senior two or three freshmen to touch base with periodically. Plus they are in charge of what goes on in weekly half-hour "Focus Friday" sessions with mixed grade-level groups.
So in thinking about what a good mentor does, I'm trying to put into words for my seniors, as their, well, mentor, what they can do for the kids they're connecting with, in addition to reminding myself how I need to help them in their new roles. I'm also having some flashbacks to my first year in my first classroom 11 years ago.
In brainstorming from these various perspectives, I've come up with some advice for mentors, advice to sort of help bring balance to a neophytes experience, balance in the form of SCALES:
- Sympathize: show me I am not alone or bad but focus on what to do next.
- Counsel: give advice but maybe in question form.
- Advocate: help me understand my limits but step in when I need to go beyond them.
- Listen: let me vent but make me solve problems.
- Encourage: tell me when I'm doing something positive but don't let me stop growing.
- Support: offer any tools you can but help me figure out when to use them or try something new.