Students need you to HEAR them

In this month’s Mentoring Minute, we’re focusing on one need that we all have in common…


As mentors, we have the opportunity to bring HOPE to students when we meet with them face to face. In one hour, we can bring HOPE to them when we remember these four basic needs and act on them…

Students need you to HEAR them.
Students need you to BE OPEN with them.
Students need you to be consistently PRESENT in their lives.
Students need you to EMPATHIZE with them.

This week, we’ll take a closer look at the first need…listening. The truth is there is a lot of noise in the world right now. And, it’s easy for students to feel overwhelmed, overlooked, and alone in the midst of it all. Compound that with remote learning and more screen time, and it’s not hard to see why students are hungry for face to face interaction with someone who will listen to them.

Students need you to HEAR them.

And, here are a handful of practical tips & reminders for how you can do that well in one hour…

Start with positive body language. We say a lot to people with our body language. And, students are really good at knowing the difference between when we’re engaged and paying full attention to them and when we’re not. So, start by looking them in the eye, leaning towards them when you’re sitting across from them, and responding to what they’re saying with the kind of body language that says, “I HEAR YOU!”

Get rid of any distractions. For most of us, this will mean putting our phones away. Students don’t always do a great job at this either, but we can model to them how to have a good two-way face to face conversation without the constant distractions that our cell phones bring. On the other hand, if we are constantly checking our phones, we are saying to the student, “I’m listening, but…”

Practice the art of active listening. Active listening is one way that we can show students that we really do hear them. Basically, it’s repeating back to students things that they’ve said or questions that they’ve asked to make sure that you heard them right. It’s saying something like, “I just heard you say…did I hear you right?” Or, saying something like, “Are you asking…did I hear your question right?” Active listening is a great way for you to demonstrate that you really do hear your student and care about what they have to say. And, it gives them the feeling that they are being heard by a caring adult.

Ask open-ended questions. The more good questions that you ask, the more students will eventually share with you…giving you more opportunities to hear them. If most of your questions can be answered with a “yes” or a “no” or even an “I don’t know,” you’re not asking good, open-ended questions. Asking good questions takes practice, but it’s a great way to keep the conversation going. And, the more your student trusts you, the more these questions will communicate to them that you really do hear them and care about what they have to say.

Check back next week as we take a closer look at the second way that we can bring hope to the students we mentor….

Students need you to be OPEN with them.

-Jason Matthews, BTO Mentor.