- Definition of a Mentor
Mentoring is a unique learning relationship based on encouragement, constructive comments, openness, mutual trust, respect, and a willingness to learn and share.
- The Role of a Mentor
- The role of a mentor is to ‘Make a difference’. They encourage and guide their mentee, where the development of the mentee is the key focus. They must listen and be supportive, yet provide non-judgemental support. They need to create goals for the mentee to obtain while passing on their knowledge and experience. A mentor will provide guidance on issues raised by their mentees, to help, guide and encourage their learn experience.
- The qualities/skills required of a good Mentor
There are many vital qualities and skills required to be a good mentor. My research and experience has taught me that a person needs to be
- Honest – Offer guidance – but not instructions
- Create a friendly atmosphere
- Be a Role model
- Enable Problem solving
- Be prepared and plan your sessions
All of the above contribute to becoming a good mentor. These factors will give the best possible chance of their mentee being successful.
Primarily, mentors need to make a difference. Whether it is a one to one babis or a group mentoring session, each of these skills will need to be shown and used to make a difference upon their mentees experience.
A mentor passes on their knowledge and experience, but they can pass on some of their skills too.
My experience has taught me how to be patient and improved my problem solving skills, so I can now go into my future career having gained these skills.
- Skills mentors use –
A mentor uses a range of different skills, so their mentee can get the best learning experience possible. Each skill is vital to making a learning environment the best it can be. Not everyone has the skills to be a mentor, however some of the skills you can gain through experience. Some of the skills include:
Listening – It is important to listen carefully to your mentee so you offer the best solution of advice,
Action planning – Plan what each session entails and why you are doing it, this will help your mentee to trust your knowledge but also so you can both get the best out of the time available
Problem solving – You may come across problems, if so always have a back up plan and tell your mentee what to do if there is any problems.
Trusting – It is very important that your mentee trusts you.
Good communication- being aware of emotions, needs and values. Always look out for their emotions to see if they understand what they are doing, they may need reminders or extra help.
Be aware of individual and cultural differences. The last thing you want to do is offend someone.
And be aware of body language. Bod language will show how your mentee is feeling.
These skills put together make a great mentor. Each one is just as important as another, so it is vital a mentor has these skills to make a difference to their mentees learning experience.
- The Boundaries to student mentoring (confidentiality, mentoring agreement, ground rules, mentees)
A student mentor should have their boundaries. They need to be trustworthy and friendly, but not their friend. It is important that Mentors set ground rules with the mentees, so they know that they are there to teach and inspire their mentees and not be a shoulder to cry on. Confidentially can be tricky, they could tell you something in confidence and ask you not to tell anyone else, it is then your call whether you tell someone higher then you or not. By telling someone else you’re breaking their trust, however you are helping them in the long run and keeping them safe. Often mentees confide in their mentors as they see them as role models, but there need to be boundaries and ground rules. The important thing is that you keep them safe.
Here is a list of attribute which contribute to becoming a bad mentor:
- Fear of the unknown
- Lack of information / misinformation
- Fear of failure
- Fear of looking stupid
- Strong peer pressure
- Lack of trust
- Reluctance – not that bothered
- The transition point/s that turn an average mentor into a great one.
Giving good, constructive feedback will turn someone from a good mentor, to a great one. Providing useful information about someone’s approach, skills or actions, in order to encourage professional development.
It is a lot easier for someone to give good feedback, be too general or too vague. It is best to use the ‘feedback sandwich technique’. Good, bad, good. Using this feedback method will turn an average mentor into a great one, as it will leave your mentee feeling better about their work, rather then demotivating them and leave them thinking about the bad points.
A great mentor will create a code of conduct or a pledge. They will read over this before and after every session to make sure they’re doing their best to create a good learning environment and make a difference for their mentee.
Code of Conduct/ Pledge:
- I promise to do the best of my ability
- To further the skills and knowledge of my mentees
- To create a positive learning environment
A great mentor will come up with lesson plans. It was important to come up with lesson plans so you know what you’re teaching them for the full hour. The mentor will need to be prepared so the mentees trust you and know you are organised. The mentor could come up with their lesson plans depending on how they learnt.
- Reflections on your own mentoring experience
I have thoroughly enjoyed my mentoring experience. I’m sad that it has come to an end, as during the experience I have thrived from having the opportunity to pass on my knowledge to the first year students. It is defiantly something I would look into doing again in the future.
As I really believe I made a difference with in students first sessions in the TV studio.
Through out the experience, personally I have gained confidence and knowledge. Before I became a mentor, I didn’t like public speaking and felt very nervous about having to do it to a room full of students looking at me, however after the first session I realised it wasn’t that bad and I overcame that fear. It gave me confidence to talk to people in a group and individually. It gave me confidence within the TV studio and helped me decide that I would like to defiantly have a career in TV or teaching.