February was a busy month as Seedling Mentor Directors hosted Support Meetings for our Mentors. Whether in person or on Zoom, after work or during the lunch hour, our goal was to give you the opportunity to come together, ask questions and offer support to one another. Over the years, we have found these meetings energize mentors for the last few months of the school year, provide an opportunity to gain mentoring confidence and skills, and strengthen our Seedling community. We hope you were able to attend! If not, following are some highlights and “aha” moments of this year’s meetings.
It is wonderful to see our seasoned mentors share their experiences and wisdom with our mentors who just started this year. There is so much ambiguity when we start a new relationship with a mentee. Seedling mentors that have been matched for several years are a wonderful resource to assure first timers that they are not alone and have “got this!” Whether new mentors are worried how they will deal with difficult moments, or they fear they won’t have anything in common with their new mentee, seasoned mentors have experienced the same feelings and persevered! Hearing their experiences can be reassuring.
Sharing encourages sharing. Listening to fellow mentors highlight what they appreciate about their mentee always gets the conversation going. Seedling Mentors never seem to tire of sharing the wonderful qualities they see in their mentees. At several meetings, this exchange was a highlight, as the positivity was contagious! Mentors also shared rituals they have established with their mentee, and why the recurrence of a secret handshake or check-in each week builds trust. Mentors who have not started a weekly ritual were intrigued to learn more.
The games Seedling donated to schools have also proven to be a big hit! Playing games and engaging in activities was a popular suggestion for breaking the ice with a new mentee, or just something to do to add some relaxation to our mentee’s day.
Some more mentoring tips from mentors.
- Each school is different when it comes to noise level, distractions and mentoring meeting places. Some pointed out that meeting outside is a way of avoiding distractions. We must keep in mind that schools are doing their best. Talk with your Mentor Director if you would like suggestions about how to find a place to meet on campus with your mentee.
- Thirty minutes, which most lunch times are, can go by so quickly. Consider lowering your expectations as to just how much you can do during this time. Your mentee is glad to see you and happy to have one on one time with you, their mentor!
- Relationships develop naturally. Trust will happen over time, as you keep coming back to see your mentee week after week.
- Stay flexible! Your schedule may change, your mentee’s schedule may change. Practicing patience when the unexpected happens keeps us on track. Remember, mentoring is a marathon, not a sprint.
If you were unable to attend one of the meetings and have a question or would like to share a story, please call your Mentor Director. We love to hear from you!