Mentors are an invaluable source of support and information within the school environment. Consulting a mentor could influence the win win situation teachers have been searching for.
Is it just me or do we mentors make our job look easy and thus somewhat ineffective. I make this statement because of the recent cuts across the UK, that has witnessed thousands of school positions, with mentoring at its core, axed.
In my eyes, mentoring has lost its value in education. It is seen as wishy- washy, non-conclusive and as such not a priority. From the outside glancing in, it may even seem that some of us mentors strike up relationships by acting the fool and not really taking our job seriously.
But! If you were a fly on the wall of a mentor’s home, you will very quickly find that the majority of professional mentors have a gift in engaging ‘the have not’s and the we-don’t -want-you-not’s’ of society.
Regardless of the mentors age, on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis they’re a lighthouse shining brightly to those in need of a cheerleader, listening ear, someone who cares or someone who can offer protection from this (too) oftentimes harsh world.
We mentors are naturally altruistic and even better at being engaged. Some mentors maybe quirky, others may be introverts, some may still love GameBoy at the age of 41 or get excited about buying the latest Jordan’s, some may even be as boring as a cardboard box, or as posh as Tatler.
We mentors, like the counsellors, therapists, doctors and workplace managers of this world are the holders of people’s fears, insecurities, poor excuses and dreams.
But what we all have in common is our genuine and absolute care, for the well-being and progression of others. Especially those who need a ‘one off’ jump-start or are rarely listened to. This deep-rooted care, shapes everything we do, say and strive for.
Thus, we are self-reflective. Simply because we deal with supporting people in shaping their perspectives, values, self-worth, ambitions and behaviours.
And that ladies and gents, is a very big deal and also very serious business. Research has not yet explored the value of school mentoring, but I know the ROI would be, well… huge.
We are so very very privileged, and some may even say in a very very sacred position.
And this is why truly professional mentors do not tempt fate by hindering the discourse of different perspectives or limit the process of unbiased and diverse critical thinking; from the reach of others.
Whether an innate ability or learnt by practice, we mentors are able to see the perspective of all. And in a school that is the perspective of the head, the teachers, the students, the parents, the community wardens and the school facilities team.
Not forgetting the future employer, the future husband or wife or the latest pet dog. We do not fall into the trap of negative ‘teacher-to-teacher-about-student talk’, take sides, let our egos predetermine outcomes, or allow past events to sabotage present moments and the positive possibilities that lay waiting in the future.
In a busy school, we mentors are the hidden treasure, but unfortunately, too often we are seen but not heard, used and not consulted.
We possess specialist knowledge and insights that can improve policies and procedures, relationships and conversations, schemes of work, classroom behaviour, GCSE outcomes and entry into sustainable post 16 opportunities.
As long as we’re not dealing with a child protection matter or babysitting a student’s emotional breakdown, we are ready and available to serve teachers, governors and parents alike.
So, if you would like to gain a deeper understanding into the dynamics of your year group or make an informed decision about a student before signing a document; speak to your professional in-house mentor or consult an external mentoring consultancy.
By consulting a mentor, you could very well enhance your knowledge and expertise in youth culture, youth engagement and youth development. It’s a win win for all and would look great in the CPD section of your CV.
About our Community Expert
Director of The mentoring Lab, Elaine has over 15 years of experience in teaching, employment, mentoring, supporting learning and career progression.
Elaine is the Opogo community expert working with young people and adults to prevent underachievement in their learning or careers.