As mentors, we all know the power of words. Words can both tear down and build up. Unfortunately, many students are constantly being torn down by words. Sometimes, it comes from a place of dysfunction at home. Other times, it might be through other students bullying them. Or, they may even be tearing themselves down with their own negative self-talk. Speaking words of encouragement is a powerful way that mentors can bring hope and healing to students. Here are a few ways you can do that this month:
Write a note of encouragement. With so much of our communication happening electronically, a handwritten note of encouragement may be one of the most effective ways you can brighten your student’s day.
Be a cheerleader. A cheerleader cheers for their team whether they are winning or losing. A mentor does the same thing for their student. Encouragement comes when they know we’re on their team no matter what.
Be a regular presence. Discouragement often comes when others let us down. Many students have experienced the hurt of broken relationships, whether it’s friends who’ve walked away from them or parents who aren’t a part of their life. They look forward to weekly times with their mentor. And, your consistent presence in their life is a huge encouragement.
Halfway there…when students come back from winter break, the school year is nearly half over. But, the end still feels so far away for many students. And, winter can be a difficult time for them to persevere…to keep on going and not quit. As a mentor, you can be the one to help keep them going and focused on the end. Here are a few ways you can do that this month: Continue reading →
A mentee recently shared what she appreciates about her new mentor:
“Spending time with my mentor helps a lot. I can talk to her about my problems and it feels like they fade away when she is with me. I feel a lot better because she helps me sort stuff out. It’s made a huge difference for me.”
This Lynden student has been with her mentor for a only few months!
Be Challenged & Equipped (you can do it!)
Halfway there…when students come back from winter break, the school year is nearly half over. But, the end still feels so far away for many students. And, winter can be a difficult time for them to persevere…to keep on going and not quit. As a mentor, you can Be the One to help keep them going and focused on the end.
Here are a few ways you can encourage your mentee:
Tell a perseverance story. Share with them a time in your life when you wanted to quit, but kept on going. Talk about the importance of perseverance in your own life.
Surprise them with a drink from Woods Coffee. It’s winter and it’s cold. They will appreciate it, and a small gesture like that can be a great encouragement to keep going.
Don’t give up on them. Your perseverance with them shows that you really do care about them and brings them hope when the end of the school year still seems so far away.
Be Encouraged A new young man comes in with a friend to request a mentor: He seems confident, articulate, a good looking kid who is involved in sports, seems to have friends, and is never in trouble at school. “What are you hoping for in a mentor?” He wants someone to talk to about all the stress he feels in his life, his passions, and stuff going on at home.
Students crave meaningful connection with adults.
[ Building Hope ]
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” -Helen Keller
One of the primary goals of mentoring students is building trust with them. Without their trust, your impact in their lives will never reach it’s full potential. Building trust takes time, but it’s worth the investment. So, don’t be discouraged when you don’t see “results” right away. It’s important to go into a mentoring relationship with a long-term perspective. Here are three ways you can build trust with your student:
Be consistent…just showing up every week on time builds trust, especially with students who don’t see that consistency modeled to them by the adults in their homes.
Be present…don’t bring your own distractions with you and make sure to give your student your full attention. Students will trust you when you make them feel valued and known.
Be patient…remember the long-term perspective. Don’t be quick to judge or quick to fix your student. Be quick to listen and slow to speak.
After meeting this week, a mentor reflects with me on the change in demeanor for a young man who seems to be really enjoying his mentor’s undivided attention. He seemed withdrawn, quiet, and possibly a bit depressed. He becomes animated and talkative while playing games and talking with his mentor each week and seems generally happier and more settled at school overall. His mentor comments that they are having some very meaningful conversations.
Positive feelings linger throughout the week when students feel they are seen and heard.
[ Building Empathy ]
What is empathy? Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. Like trust, building empathy takes time. It requires a willingness to sit, listen, and respond (appropriately) to students in both their highs and their lows. Practicing empathy levels the playing field of our conversations and communicates that we really do care for our students. Here are three ways you can build empathy in your mentoring relationship:
Be sensitive…listen to what your student is saying, look at what they are communicating through their body language, and then be sensitive to what you see and hear.
Be proactive…when you take the time to really get to know your student (through truly listening to them and seeing them), you can be a proactive mentor rather than a reactive one. A proactive mentor looks for ways to consistently encourage, empower, and help students rather than simply reacting to whatever high or low they are experiencing.
Be caring…when students see that you care about them, you are giving them the gift of hope. You are communicating to them that they matter. And, that’s a great way to build empathy into your mentoring relationship.
What is resiliency? Resiliency is “the capacity to bounce back, rebound, and successfully adapt in the face of adversity.” It’s the ability to bounce back from problems with more power and hope. As mentors, we have the opportunity to help build resiliency in students. Here are three ways you can build resiliency in your student:
Be genuine…many students today think adults are fake. Being genuine means that we have to be committed to things like listening well, responding appropriately, and modeling empathy.
Be a good listener…listen and don’t give advice unless they ask. One question you could ask your student: do you just want me to listen, or do you want my input?
Be an encourager…believe in them even when they don’t believe in themselves. Help them focus on attainable goals. Ask them questions like, “What do you want to change?” or “Who would you like to become?”
Where did the idea of the BTO mentoring program come from?
What is the Be the One difference?
How have lives been positively impacted?
How can you help?
Listen and Learn as Nancy McHarness, co-founder shares candidly about what she and her husband Denny McHarness envisioned and are experiencing as a result of their desire to cultivate community engagement in partnership with local schools.