Last month, Seedling Mentors had the opportunity to meet virtually with Mentor Directors and fellow mentors to share experiences, ask questions and offer support during Mentor Support Lunches. These meetings were offered on various dates in January and we were pleased that so many of you, both seasoned and new mentors, participated. This year has seen continued challenges caused by the pandemic. A handful of schools remain closed to visitors, sometimes mentees are unable to meet during lunch, and sometimes participants are choosing to remain virtual for personal health and safety. For those matches our Seedling Platform is available from 8am -5:30pm each weekday that school is in session. Many matches are able and willing to meet in person. Whether meeting virtually or in person, all are working hard to stay present with our mentees as they navigate their own experiences through these unprecedented challenges. Brainstorming with peer mentors and your Mentor Director during Mentor Support Lunches is a great way to get suggestions you may not have considered.
“My mentee and I have still not met in person. We are meeting on the platform again this year. Luckily, she is happy to meet virtually and we are comfortable enough with one another to spend our time talking about how she is doing, or problem solving her struggles. Meeting virtually works for us!”
“I question sometimes if my mentee wants to keep meeting, and then out of the blue he will surprise me by saying how much he appreciates that I show up each week.”
It is only human to wonder if maybe you are not appreciated when your mentee does not smile, look you in the eyes, or seem talkative when you visit. However, mentors must remember that we do not know how our mentee’s day has been, if they had breakfast, or a good night’s sleep. Always assume your mentee wants you to visit unless they say otherwise.
One mentor asked, “How can I support my mentee’s current ideas of what he wants to do as a career, even if it does not seem feasible?” Another mentor suggested helping the mentee research his interest and find out what, if any, careers are related.
Another mentor shared, “my mentee is interested in the music industry, but not as a musician. How can I help her discover her talents in this arena?” Suggestions included taking advantage of Austin’s rich music scene and finding volunteer or intern opportunities that will expose the mentee to the many options.
Many mentors who now meet in person shared their surprise and wonder at the physical changes their mentees went through during virtual learning; some barely recognizing their mentee, “he had gotten really tall”, “she looked like a young woman”, “his voice is so deep now”.
Our mentees are growing and evolving. If you haven’t seen or talked to your mentee in a while, take the time to rebuild the mentoring bond by playing “get to know you games” and asking open ended questions.
A new mentor shared: “my mentee was quiet the first visits”. A veteran mentor assured him that was common and to “let the mentee take the lead.”
This is a wonderful example of how mentors learn from each other and benefit from Seedling’s on-going support and training. Some mentors are still waiting to see their mentee again. We are so thankful for their continued patience and positivity.
Finally, one Mentor Support Meeting concluded by asking the participants a trio of questions.
- Who won the Nobel Peace Prize in Medicine in 1962?
- Who won the Oscar of Best Supporting Actress in 1987?
- Who is someone that invested in you when you were young and made a positive impact?
Which of these questions were easy to answer? We are betting it was the last one. While the first individuals were in the news, on television and celebrated by many, the answer to the third question is the person you remember best, because they invested in you! Likewise, know that you are making a positive impact on your mentee, and the seeds you are sowing will make a lasting impression.