Make Time for Mentoring
We’ve all heard the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child.” Nowhere is that more accurate than in school, where children spend the majority of their time during most of the year. You can go the extra mile in helping your students succeed by following our tips on how to start a mentoring program in your classroom or even throughout your school.
Mentorship has many benefits for students. It helps them set goals, hone skills, strengthen relationships built on trust, and develop self-confidence. And it works the other way, too. Teachers benefit from the opportunity to connect one-on-one with students, show students possibilities for their future, and make teaching an even more rewarding experience.
Statistics by mentoring.org show that at-risk students with mentors are 55 percent more likely to apply to college, 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly, 90 percent more likely to want to pass on their experience by becoming a mentor themselves, and 130 percent more likely to hold future leadership roles than their un-mentored peers.
If you’re not sure how to start a mentoring program, consider these types:
Teacher-to-Student Mentoring Programs
A teacher already serves as a mentor to her students just by her role in the classroom, but if you’re looking to take mentoring beyond that, check out these tips from Youth.gov:
- First, determine the needs in your school. Who will the program serve? Will it be open to all grade levels and all students? Or focused on specific groups of students?
- Next, consider the type of mentoring you want to provide and the parameters of your program. Is it academic? Is it about life after high school? Is it focused on youth development?
- Then, recruit your mentors. Other teachers make a natural go-to resource, but don’t overlook other adults connected to your school (teacher aides, staff members, etc.) People who work in a school are passionate about students and that passion can translate to powerful mentoring.
- Lastly, determine how hands-on you want your teacher-to-student mentor program to be. Do you want to set specific activities for your participants? Or let each teacher and mentee develop what works best for them?
Student-to-Student Mentoring Programs
Peer mentoring can have as many benefits as teacher-to-student programs and in many cases, can be simpler to implement. You can set up a peer-mentor program within your classroom or match your students with younger students in other grades.
Research shows that peer-mentor programs can help both parties improve reasoning and problem-solving skills. Students who participate in peer mentoring also develop better organization habits, increase self-esteem and empathy, and improve communication skills. These are all “soft skills” that are in high demand in today’s job market, making a peer-mentor program the perfect stepping stone to preparing your students for the real world.
To get started with a peer-mentoring program, including choosing your mentors and setting up a mentoring space, check out these ideas from Leader in Me.
Teacher-to-Teacher Mentoring Programs
Finally, don’t overlook the benefits of a teacher-to-teacher mentoring program. Veteran teachers have a wealth of knowledge to share (about things in and outside the classroom) but you don’t have to stick with that formula. A new teacher may find a teacher in her second or third year of teaching more valuable because she remembers what it’s like to be the newbie.
According to Education Week, there are eight qualities that great teacher mentors share:
- They respect their mentee.
- They are good listeners.
- They challenge their mentees.
- They work collaboratively.
- They celebrate successes.
- They focus on honesty.
- They emphasize safety.
- They demonstrate empathy.
Talk to your principal or administrator about starting a teacher-to-teacher mentor program in your school, or start small by taking a new teacher under your wing. If you think a mentor program could benefit your school and your students, but you’re not sure where to begin, start here with tips from mentoring.org.