For those of you who were able to join us at our annual partnership meeting at the end of July, you had the opportunity to hear Dr. Shane Lopez, senior researcher at Gallup and the nation’s leading researcher on hope, speak about this new phenomenon of nexting. Nexting is what Dr. Lopez refers to as the action of talking about the “next” thing happening, a small action that can quickly turn into a hope enabler for students everywhere. So how do we get our mentees to STOP texting and START nexting? In Dr. Lopez’s most recent blog he gives us three questions to jump start the process.
A blog located on The Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring recently posted how a new study highlights the benefits of serving as a mentor. We are constantly chatting about how our students are affected by mentoring – improvement in grades, attendance, behavior, sense of hope, engagement well-being and so much more, but it is rare that we take a minute to look at how our mentors are affected in an equally positive manor. The Journal of Vocational Behvior shows the career benefits associated with mentoring for mentors. We hope you take the time to read the linked article and gain these takeaway points:
- Individuals who served as mentors reported greater job satisfaction.
- Individuals who served as mentors reported a greater commitment to the organization.
- Individuals who served as mentors reported having higher quality relationships within the workplace which were associated with even greater benefits.
- Individuals who served as mentors had greater career success and better job performance.
While this study was done specifically observing mentoring relationships within the workplace, the findings from this study also have direct implications for youth mentoring as well. Specifically the need for more direct consideration of how the mentors do benefit from the relationship and collection of mentor outcomes that could provide a tool for mentoring programs across the nation trying to convey what we all know so well – that mentors are just as affected by the relationship as the kids, maybe more.
Are you a mentor that has seen personal growth or benefits as a result of their mentoring relationship? If so, share your story below!
Last week, we posted tips on how to begin the closure process if you will be ending your match with your mentee at the end of this year. Preparing your student and yourself for the end of your formal relationship is very important.
Today we will discuss some activities you can do with your mentee to ease the transition.
Looking Back on Your Mentoring Experience. The two of you have been through a lot together – the ups and downs, some fun activities, maybe some tough discussions. As you look back at your time together, it is important for you to think about what you have gained from the mentoring experience. Below are some questions to help each of you reflect on your mentoring experience.
- What has being part of TeamMates taught me about myself?
- What has being part of TeamMates taught me about the world around me?
- Am I satisfied with the kind of mentor or mentee I have been?
- What three things am I most proud of?
- What are each other’s strengths?
- What have you taught each other?
- What will you always remember about your relationship?
- Because of the mentoring experience, what will you do more, less, or differently in life?
Friendship Bracelets are a fun activity to do together that you can each have with you to remember your friendship and time together. You can work on these while discussing your relationship and fun times you have had together. This website (the Purl Bee) has detailed, step-by-step instructions with pictures. All you will need is some embroidery floss that is you and your mentee’s favorite colors.
Now and Then Spend time noticing changes and accomplishments from when you started your mentoring relationship to now. How have you each changed? What music do you listen to now? Any major life changes? Are you a better listener now? Is your mentee taller? You can just discuss these items, write them down, or represent it with pictures or a collage.
Keepsake Box Another way to store memories from your relationship is to create a keepsake box. If you have any mementos from your favorite activities, place them in the box along with a description of the activity. You can also create your own mementors. If you favorite activity was playing UNO, place a deck of cards in the box or draw a picture. Write a note about why you enjoyed that activity together. If you each make one then you can cherish the memories for years to come.
If you have any questions about how to handle closure and the transition, contact your TeamMates Chapter Coordinator. It is important that they are also aware of the end of you relationship. TeamMates appreciates the time that you are able to commit to a youth in your community.
Match closure is often a subject we don’t like to talk about. To some, it may represent the match failing or not completing your role as a mentor. However, it is important to remember that every mentoring relationship will end at some point. It is normal for many kinds of relationships in our lives to end, and mentoring relationships are often designed to only last for a specific amount of time. No matter what circumstances have led to the end of your formal mentoring relationship, you have a responsibility to do what you can to make the conclusion as smooth as possible. It is possible that you will find it difficult or painful when the time comes, but please read all of the steps and tips below to weather the transition with grace and integrity.
If you know that you will not be able to return to mentoring at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, start preparing for closure now. Here are the steps:
- Notify your TeamMates Coordinator if your match is coming to a close. The coordinator will be instrumental in the closing of the match.
- Plan a special final meeting to talk with your mentee about what you have learned from the experience or write a note expressing those sentiments. (another post to come soon with ideas for these final meetings).
- Talk with your mentee about how you have seen him/her grow as a person in your time together.
- It’s appropriate to share your sadness at not seeing your mentee anymore. If your mentee shares sadness with you, try to be receptive and understanding of those feelings.
Some mentees may want to stay in touch with their mentors. The most important thing is to not promise anything that you do not intend to do. If you’re not sure you’ll be able to follow through, you can say your own version of “I don’t want to promise something I won’t do, but I’ll miss you and think of you often.”
Other tips to remember when beginning the process of ending the relationship:
- Avoid the blame game. It doesn’t matter which one of you initiates the end of the relationship. Remember that most friendships change over time, and sometimes they simply end in healthy ways. The important thing is to strive for a considerate parting rather than a sudden loss of hurtful loss.
- Offer to continue to be in your mentee’s life in some capacity. You may not see each other as often, but offer to write letters or to be present at future milestones (a recital, game, graduation ceremony), leaving it up to the mentee to decide if they would want that. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
- Talk about what you found most important and satisfying about your relationship with your mentee and encourage them to do the same. Even if your relationship has been rocky, there is always something positive in the time mentors and mentees spend together.
- Talk about how you feel about the change, and encourage your mentee to do the same.
- Sit down with your mentee and write down all the things you did together over the past year or two or three. It may conjure up some sadness, but you may also find yourself laughing at some of the fonder moments you’ve shared.
- Let your mentee know how much they mean to you. Thank them for the opportunity to get to know them. Let them know how they have changed you for the better and point out the improvements you have seen in their behavior, skills, or disposition.
If you are the one who needs to end the relationship:
- Make sure you are very certain that ending the formal mentoring relationship is the only workable option. Talk to your coordinator about options to continue to work the meetings into your schedule.
- Tell your mentee in person. You might be more comfortable talking about this in the presence of your school or program coordinator. Be honest but careful. If lack of time is the issue, don’t leave your mentee thinking they are not important to you. Rather, frame the conversation around the strengths your mentee has, the changes they have made in your life, and the realities you face (demanding job, household responsibilities) that are unavoidable.
- Make sure your mentee’s family knows about the change. Talk with your coordinator about contacting the family. This will help give them time to prepare ways they can support their child through the transition.
We will have another post with closure activities and discussions to have with your mentee.
From Mentoring for Meaningful Results: Asset-Building Tips, Tools, and Activities for Youth and Adults. Copyright ©2006 by Search Institute™; 800-888-7828; www.search-institute.org
A blog located on The Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring recently posted “How much should a mentor disclose?”. Self Disclosure Boundaries are also a topic covered in our mentor training manual and are important to remember when interacting with your mentee. We hope you take the time to read the linked article and gain these takeaway points:
- consider the current stage of the relationship with your mentee
- the mentor should be more listener than talker
- to keep the conversation focused on the mentee, ask them why they are initiating a conversation about your life and beliefs
- avoid sharing details that might unintentionally have a negative influence on your mentee
- stay away from sensitive topics such as religious or political beliefs
- your role is to help your mentee develop critical thinking skills, which happens most effectively by exploring their beliefs, not yours
Here is what the TeamMates Training Manual says about Self Disclosure Boundaries:
Mentors need to be careful about the type of personal information they share with their mentees. When disclosing personal information, it is important for mentors to ask themselves: What purpose does it serve to share this information? Am I doing it because I need the support? Or do I think this information will serve a higher purpose?
- A mentor’s primary responsibility is to be supportive of the youth and listen to his/her concerns. The motives for sharing should always be youth centered, not self-centered.
- The specifics of a volunteer’s personal life or the intricacies of his/her marriage may be information that can be shared with other adult friends but not with a child.
- Mentors should be careful not to shut down communication by talking about personal experiences instead of listening first. If a mentee asks, “Did you drink when you were a teenager?” an appropriate response would be to say, “Are you asking because you are wondering what age it is OK to drink?” This approach might get youth to think about their own lives and concerns. If a young person really wants to know about his/her mentor’s personal past and experiences s/he will ask again.
- When self-disclosure is done in the appropriate context and to an appropriate extent, it can be a powerful way to connect with you and build trust.
It can be hard to determine your role as a mentor in your mentee’s education. Are you solely your mentee’s friend who never discusses education? Are you your mentee’s tutor who should be working on school work the whole time? Do you talk about school every other time?
The environment of your mentoring relationship is the school, which can make discussing grades and school work seem natural. But remember that you are developing a relationship with your mentee, you are not a tutor. However, this does not mean that school and education cannot become a natural and easy part of your relationship. Here are a few tips on how to talk about school with your mentee:
- First and foremost, work on building trust with your mentee. They will probably not feel comfortable talking to a complete stranger about their grades. If they do not want to open up about the subject, do not push it.
- Lightly incorporate school into the conversations.
- What was the hardest thing you had to do in school this week?
- What are you studying that interests you?
- What class do you have next?
- What are you currently learning?
- Ask for a tour of the school. This is a good way to see the classrooms and ask about each subject and teacher. You will also learn where their locker is. Ask your mentee if they have a meeting place with their friends in the school.
- Take queues from your mentee on what excites them about school. What makes them talk faster than usual? What causes a twinkle in their eye? What do they bring up each time you meet? Use this favorite subject or part of school in future mentoring sessions when deciding your next activity.
In addition to talking about school work, you can incorporate school subjects into your weekly meetings. We posted a few months ago about how to make reading fun, the same can be done with many other subjects. We will start posting weekly about ways to add school subjects such as math, reading, science, and social studies into the activities you are already doing with your mentee.
As you go to mentor this week, your mentee might have some questions regarding the recent school shooting. Check with your TeamMates Coordinator to see if the school is providing any specific tips or resources that you can utilize as a mentor.
Below are some additional resources that might be helpful to you.
Crisis Care Tips for Parents (From Boys Town’s Parenting.org)
• Everyone – including teens – is hard-wired to recover from crisis events and has “built-in” coping mechanisms.
• It is normal for kids to feel upset, sad, confused or afraid after something bad happens; let your child know it’s okay to have these feelings.
• Always be available to talk and listen to your child, but don’t force children to talk about their feelings.
• Parents, friends and teachers are the best sources of support, caring and understanding.
• Getting kids back to their normal activities as soon as possible promotes coping and healing.
• Give kids time and space to sort through their feelings.
• Monitor kids and stay vigilant as the healing process continues, even months after the event.
• If kids can’t get back to their normal life, show unusual changes in their routines or give other signals they are struggling, seek professional help.
(For the full article, click here)
If your mentee has questions about their safety at school, reach out to your TeamMates coordinator to find out the school’s safety plan. Making your coordinator aware of your mentee’s concerns will help them support your mentee throughout the week.
If you have any concerns about your mentee, take them to the school counselor or TeamMates Coordinator. This will ensure your mentee has the professional help they might need.
Thank you for your dedication to youth.
TeamMates Mentoring Program
11850 Nicholas St. Suite 120
Omaha NE 68154
This time of year is known for family, friends, gifts, lights, and festive decorations, but with all of this fun comes cold weather and an abundance of sometimes unhealthy food. Use part of one of your upcoming sessions to discuss how to stay healthy during the cold months and do your own exploring online or in the library to find other tips.
- Wash your hands! Encourage frequent hand washing with your mentee. The CDC website has a whole section on important times to wash hands and how to wash them. Practice effective hand-washing together.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. It will help others around stay clear of your germs. See other tips related to preventing the flu.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. According to the CDC, most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly when people with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk.
As temperatures drop, it is important to follow the weather and know when it is safe to play outdoors or when it is better to stay inside. Look at the weather online and discuss not only the importance of temperature, but also the wind chill. Check out this temperature guide from Parenting.com. When it is too cold to go outside, here are some ideas for fun, indoor activities:
- Just dance! Crank up the tunes and jam out to your favorite music. Dancing is a fun and easy way to get your heart rate up.
- Set up an obstacle course. Remind your mentee to ask permission before moving around furniture. Check out this sites’ fun winter obstacle course.
- Put on a performance. Act out your favorite play, tv show, or book. Gather your friends and make it a talent show – sing, dance, juggle, play an instrument – showcase your talents for family and friends.
Choose Healthy Snacks
Fudge, cookies, brittle, truffles, candy canes, cake – this time of year is filled with delicious treats. While it is okay to enjoy a treat, it should be done in moderation. Here are some links and ideas to explore with your mentee:
- ChooseMyPlate.gov has an abundance of information on nutrition and health from the government.
- Fruit tree. Arrange your favorite fruits in the shape of a tree. Get creative and think of your own shapes – star, wreath, ornament?
- Vegetable trees. Suggest these arrangements of vegetables to your mentee to make eating vegetables fun – snap pea tree and broccoli tree
You can encourage your mentor to bring these ideas home. Model the same in your own family. Report back at your next session with the fun ways you stayed healthy despite the colder temperatures.
We hope you all enjoyed the Thanksgiving Holiday – a wonderful time for family, food, and friends. Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season that often centers around presents. We like to use this time of year to remind our mentors of the TeamMates policy relating to Money and Gift-giving. Below is what our training manual says about setting Money Boundaries:
Boundary setting, in the abstract, seems simple and easy to do. However, the complexity of day-to-day interactions, setting boundaries around money issues is not so easy. Should a mentor help in a financial crisis? Should a mentor provide for a mentee’s basic needs? When should a mentor give gifts?
Here are some general suggestions:
- A mentor’s role is not that of provider. If a young person is going through financial difficulties, it is important for mentors to remember that they can help by connecting their mentee to the appropriate resources. Creating financial dependency will only end up causing a rift in the relationship.
- Gifts should not be given to mentees. Gift giving takes attention away from the relationship. For many youth, buying things is sometimes used as a way to compensate for the lack of relationship. Volunteers need to send out the strong message that the time spent together is the gift. The gift of time and friendship is more valuable than any material thing they can give their mentees. Gifts do not include items of nominal value provided for immediate consumption such as food and beverage, admission to events or activities, and supplies needed for mentoring activities.
So remember that though it is tempting to buy your mentee a gift, you have been provided with the important opportunity to teach your mentee about the value of the gift of time. If you have additional questions, please contact your chapter coordinator.
Thanksgiving is tomorrow! It is a wonderful day to give thanks and to be grateful for the many people and things in our lives, however giving thanks is something that can happen at anytime. The art of writing a thoughtful thank you note is one that is not mastered by many and often has to be learned. As a mentor, you have the opportunity to help your mentee learn how to write a meaningful thank you note.
Tips for writing a thank you
- Ideally it should be written on paper instead of sent via email or some other electronic means. Use your creativity to decorate the card.
- Begin by addressing the recipient and thanking them for the gift, hospitality or kindness offered.
- The next paragraph or sentence should express enjoyment or use of the gift.
- Samples include:
- I plan on using it for…
- I enjoyed learning about…
- It has already been put to use for…
- I had a blast while…
- You may also add some personal information about what is going on in your life, especially if you don’t frequently see this person. But remember to center the note on offering thanks, not talking about yourself.
- End with a closing sentence or paragraph that states you look forward to seeing or speaking to the recipient soon.
- Close with a less formal phrase such as “best wishes”, “thanks again”, or “love” for a relative.
- Remember to make all words sincere and heartfelt.
Ideas for people to write to:
- Parents or Guardians
- TeamMates coordinator and building coordinator (they work hard!!)
- School Secretary
- School Principal
This doesn’t have to be an activity that you spend your whole hour on, start with just one thank you.
Check out other ways to show appreciation with our Say Thank You Pinterest Board.