Dear Mentors: Thank you. Here are a few resources to improve your mentoring

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Whether you were a part of a school-based mentoring relationship concluded in June, or whether you are midway through a 2019 match, we just wanted to say Thank You!

Being a Mentor is really important work, and we are ways asking ourselves how we can do better, connect better, and help. 

Here are a few links for you to think about…

Better conversations, stronger relationships 
How well do you know your mentee? Can you answer these five questions? 
  • What is their Birthday?
  • What is their favourite song?
  • When was a time they felt proud of themselves?
  • What is an activity that they would like to try in the future?
Are you getting the match support you need?

Every relationship hits jumps and bumps along the way. It’s important to reach out if you have questions and stay up to date with Alberta Mentoring Partnerships tools and resources.

'Relationships Matter: The 5 Elements of Developmental Relationships'
- Search Institute

5 Ways to Be a Great Mentor

Adapted from our friends at Room to Read

1. Cultivate Trust

The key ingredient to any successful mentor-mentee relationship is trust. A mentor may be the only person in a young person's life they can be open and honest with. So, it’s essential to build a deep sense of trust between mentor and mentee. This is the underlying framework for all other aspects of the mentoring relationship to follow.

2. Be A Friend

Focus on Fun. First and foremost, the mentoring relationship should be fun! A mentor’s primary role is to act as a wise, caring friend and supporter for girls. This relationship is less formal than a teacher-student, or a coach-trainee relationship.

Be a Role Model. A mentor is someone a young person can look up to because of the positive choices they have made in life. Mentors can serve as an example for making positive personal decisions and developing healthy, supportive relationships.

Show Empathy. Showing genuine interest and concern for mentee’s thoughts and feelings helps them feel safe enough to be honest about their lives.

Research shows that young people who may not have positive adult relationships in their lives benefit greatly from a mentoring relationship because young people learn how to build trust with adults. This can help them to practice understanding as well as, regulating and expressing emotion, which leads to higher self-worth.

3. Communicate Effectively

Be an active listener. Active listening shows the speaker that the listener truly cares about what is being said. This helps build trust between mentors and mentees and allow for a deeper, more honest relationship.

Use reflective statements. Repeat back what the mentee has said to summarize her situation, thoughts, or feelings. Reflective statements give both people an opportunity to ensure they understand one another. 
Ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions allow for clarification and a deeper exploration of a topic. Asking questions starting with who, what, where, how or why invites more of a response versus questions that only require a ‘yes’ or ‘no' answer. 

4. Be Dependable

Mentees need consistency. Showing up not only shows reliability, but also builds trust. Host regular meetings and be on-time, every time. If you’re running late to a meeting, communicate beforehand. Mentees can’t form a strong bond with mentors if meetings are inconsistent.

Be present long-term. Studies show that the most effective mentoring relationships last for at least six months to one year.

Come prepared. Review the lesson or discussion plan before the meeting. Arriving with organized materials shows mentees. that their time and investment are valued, which encourages them to care about the mentoring sessions

5. Empower Young People

Validate feelings, goals and dreams. Mentors play an important role in encouraging young people to set goals and develop steps to achieve them. After all, they may not feel comfortable sharing this with anyone else. Encouraging goals also helps foster positive self-esteem and better mental health.

Support independent decision-making. Part of empowering youth is stepping back to let them make their own choices. Mentors shouldn’t judge or criticize for a “poor” decision. Instead, talk through the steps that led to the action and discuss ways to improve in the future. Allowing a young person to reach her own decisions helps her to feel respected and confident to take charge of her own life.

Encourage positive peer relationships. Social networks are an important part of adolescent life, especially if young people do not receive support or encouragement at home. Research indicates that adolescents’ ability to relate to others increases when they engage in a positive mentoring relationship, where mutual trust and respect are modeled. These relationships allow youth to feel socially supported, which increases their chances of staying in school.

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