Acts of compassion

Be Challenged: The importance of compassion in mentoring:

This month, we’re sharing some ways that you can show compassion to your student. It starts with humility. Because true humility will naturally show itself in acts of compassion.

Another important way that you can show compassion is by choosing to see the value in your student. Think about it…when you see your student, what do you see? Seeing the value of a person often means that we choose to look beyond what they look like now and see who they can be later. Your role as a mentor is not to try and fix your student’s problems, but to walk alongside them with compassion.

Bottom line…seeing your student’s value will lead you to show them more compassion.

-Jason Matthews, BTO Mentor Coach

Be Encouraged – she understands me.

Take a shy, sheltered, yet very curious middle schooler, and introduce her to a compassionate, retired teacher—the combination yields a beautiful path to confidence and self-advocacy. When Carla moved from middle school to high school, her BTO mentor came with her.

At first, Carla was so terrified to enter the crowded cafeteria that she just stopped eating lunch. Her mentor found out through caring questions and helped Carla get the support she needed to enjoy her lunch. Little by little, week by week, her mentor spent time with Carla working on schoolwork, reading books, talking about everything under the sun, answering questions, and expanding her world.

A mentor’s consistent presence and affirmation helped Carla find her voice. Carla says: “She understands me and I can tell her about everything. I feel happier because I have her as a friend.”

The importance of compassion in mentoring

Last week, we asked the question, “What is compassion?” And, for the month of March we want to share some ways that you can show compassion to your student.

Let’s start with the need for humility.

In order for you to show compassion to your student, you need to be humble in your interactions with them. It’s hard to show compassion for someone if you sit across from them with an attitude of pride or judgment. Your student will know if you are genuine or not (and if you really do care about them or not), based on the level of humility and grace that you bring into your mentoring relationship.

Bottom line…true humility will naturally show itself in acts of compassion.

-Jason Matthews, BTO Mentor Coach

Be Encouraged – Mentoring helped Alan

Alan seemed to be getting off to a rough start. As a freshman who had just moved to Lynden, he missed a lot of school, didn’t turn in much work, and seemed a bit lost. Alan had a poor educational track record due to moving almost every year, virtually no study skills, and straight “F’s” in all his classes. Faculty encouraged Alan to consider having a mentor.

At first, he had no interest and didn’t think he needed anyone, but reluctantly agreed to give it a try. He felt a bit awkward meeting Brandon the first time, but quickly formed a strong connection with this enthusiastic and energetic mentor. As they continued to meet each week, Brandon helped him organize school work. He recognized Alan’s ability and praised him for what he did accomplish. They talked about life, family, future goals, and how Brandon pushes himself to do challenging things. Alan still missed way too much school and didn’t pass all his classes; however, he did earn some credits and had a taste of success with Brandon’s help.

“He motivated me to do better in school.” Alan says. “He tells me that I’m capable and challenges me to do better. He’s awesome. Everyone should have a mentor.”

Be Affirmed: Verbally

Last week, we talked about the importance of being intentional with our encouragement. Here’s another way that we can offer verbal affirmation to the students we mentor.

We can acknowledge their feelings/circumstances and speak hope into them. As mentors, our tendency may be to downplay a student’s feelings or circumstances or try to fix them. Rather than doing either of those things, we can support them through those feelings/circumstances with words of hope. For example, we can help shape their perspective with an (appropriate) story from our own life. Or, we can share something we’ve heard (like a meaningful quote) that has encouraged us through a challenging time in our own lives.

–Jason Matthews, BTO Mentor Coach

Be Encouraged: mentoring works!

“I interview many students as to why they would like a mentor. One student sticks out to me. I also ask the student if there are classes that they wouldn’t want to miss for mentoring. This student mentioned that having a mentor was more important than going to his favorite class. He will be the first one in his family to graduate high school and he wants a mentor to help him achieve his goal. He is also looking for a male figure he can trust. His willingness to sacrifice his favorite classes to meet with a mentor was inspiring to me. I kept thinking, ‘This kid gets it!'”

-Annie Anderson, FHS Community Mentor Coordinator

Monday Mentoring Minute

Be Encouraged (being available!)
After winter break, one student came to school and appeared to be pretty upset about something. The student was so agitated that they chose to say absolutely nothing to anyone for the first few periods of the day. When I talked to them, and asked if they wanted to see their mentor who was scheduled to come an hour later, still nothing. However, when the time came, the student showed up for their meeting with the mentor and the two of them played UNO for hour. Not a single word was spoken. The mentor was so patient and so caring that they were willing to “mentor” in silence.
Be Affirmed
Verbal Affirmation  
Students need verbal affirmation to combat the negative messages they hear from others and from themselves. So, what are a couple of ways that we can offer verbal affirmation?
We can be intentional with our encouragement. Look for specific positive things to comment on about your student. As adults, we can be pretty generic in our words of encouragement when we say things like “Nice job!” or “I’m so proud of you!” Those aren’t bad things to say, but they’re even more meaningful if you tell them why you’re saying them. Next time you’re with your student look for opportunities to be specific in your verbal affirmation. Say something like, “I’m proud of you for…” or “You did a great job on…”
Check back next Monday for another way you can offer verbal affirmation.
-Jason Matthews, BTO Mentor Coach

Feb 11th – your Mentoring Minute

Be Encouraged ( mentoring works! )

“A new student has been meeting with his mentor since October. At the beginning of the school year he seemed very depressed and unhappy—frequently late for school and complaining of not feeling well. Now, a couple of months later he seems more settled and doing better. His developing friendship with his mentor gives him something to look forward to , he has someone to talk with, and seems to feel more confident.”
-from our BTO Mentor Coordinator

Be Affirmed
Non-verbal Affirmation

Believe it or not, we can affirm students without even saying a word . Our body language (even our posture) can communicate how much we care about them. When you spend time with your student, what do they see? Do they see a posture of judgement? Do they see someone who is too busy for them? Or, do they see someone who sees them and is willing to take the time to come alongside them and listen? The truth is students can tell if we care about them or not even before we say a word to them.

Check back next Monday for how you can affirm your student with your words.

-Jason Matthews, BTO Mentor Coach