Stories & snippets – during this time of on-line, distance learning our primary mentoring contact has been virtual, through Zoom. Zoom allows for new ways of connecting and communicating. Following are comments I have heard during recent match sessions (most, but not all via Zoom):
- Distance Mentoring, a wave of the future? A Middle School student has moved out of state for a few months but will be continuing to do school with us. Fortunately, they are also continuing to meet weekly with their mentor via Zoom. Another mentor is out of the area for the school year but continuing to meet weekly with their student match. Neither of these opportunities would have been possible without things we have learned and incorporated because of the Pandemic.
- (MS student) “Can I please meet with my mentor two times this week?” (coordinator) I think we can make that happen. I’ll check with your mentor.” And yes, thanks to a gracious mentor we were able to accommodate the request.
- (almost every student) “I just want to go back to school. I miss my friends so much. I want to meet my new teachers.” Like all of us, students are hungering for live connections, even within the parameters of safety and social distancing. Students have gained a new appreciation for “going to school.” Hope it lasts.
- (mentor) “What did you think of the debate last night?” (HS student) “What Debate?” The reality is students, like all of us, are all over the map when it comes to interests and concerns.
- (HS student) “If I had a Mom, I would ask her about these things…” While mentors are not expected to be surrogate parents, they can support students and help bridge the gap in unique ways.
- (MS student) “Do you want to see my hermit crabs? I like them, but they are scary.” (mentor) “Well, I have a cat. Here she is.” Zoom has allowed for the sharing of visual parts of students and mentors home lives in unique ways. This helps provide a better sense of knowing, understanding, and supporting.
- (a school staff member stopped by my office) “I want to Be The One!” Two staff members have self-identified as interested in joining the mentoring team.
Where we are now:
- We continue formalizing matches. Some matches have ended by either mentors or students moving. Some are active via Zoom. Some are waiting for the return to campus (staged return for most students is scheduled for early November) and lifting of health restrictions.
- I continue working with NV Schools leaders to support and enhance mentoring both now in the coming days.
where we are going…
- Onboarding new mentors and seeking matches.
- Working with area coordinators to host a Mentors training and support session in November. The focus will be Even the Helpers Need Helping: Self-Care for Mentors. Guest presenter Lindsay Anderson, elementary mental health counselor for NV Schools.