The Art of Mentoring in the Educational System: Mentorship

The art of mentoring in the educational system: mentorship has to do with when an individual (mentor) advises or trains someone, especially a younger colleague (mentee). In an educational setting,a scenario of  a teacher serving as a counselor, coach and motivator to a student in all aspects of his life, guiding him in all his dealings.

Who is a mentor?

A mentor, according to the English dictionary, is an experienced and trusted adviser.

A mentor is sighted everywhere regardless of the profession; medical profession, legal area etc.

A mentor in a workplace is defined as an individual that helps someone else succeed.

Some scholars described their in-depth understanding of the concept of mentoring.

“A mentor is a more experienced individual willing to share knowledge with someone less experienced in a relationship of mutual trust” – David Clutterbuck

A mentor is…”A trusted counsellor or guide. Normally a senior person to the associate. A mentor is a counsellor, coach, motivator, and role model. A mentor is a person who has a sincere desire to enhance the success of others. A person who volunteers time to help the associate”. – Air National Guard USA

A teacher mentoring a student
A teacher mentoring a student

Features/Attributes/Characteristics of a Mentor

Key qualities of an effective mentor include:

  1. Ability and willingness to communicate what you know

It goes without saying that as a mentor, you’re regarded as an expert in your field or area of responsibility. But it’s one thing to know what you’re doing; it’s entirely another to be able to clearly explain what you know–and to be willing to take the time to do it. Forget the jargon, the acronyms, and the buzzwords. Being clear when you communicate the lessons you’ve learned, or the strategies or guidance you’re offering, is essential, as is your level of desire to communicate the intricate details in a way that makes sense and that your mentee can understand and learn from.

  1. Preparedness

Being a mentor means making an important, serious commitment to someone, so give your mentee–and the process–the respect he or she deserves. Show your faith in your mentee’s abilities and in the process by preparing for each mentoring session. This isn’t a stream-of-consciousness deal or a “go-ahead-and-pick-my-brain” process. Yes, it’s important for your mentee to actively participate and even take the lead in these sessions. But you should ask your mentee what topics or subjects he or she wants to talk about beforehand, and once you know, you should outline the key points you want to focus on ahead of time, and have a plan ready for imparting your details in an effective and expedient way.

  1. Accessibility, availability, and the ability to listen

Your mentee must feel comfortable approaching you for advice or consultation; however, he or she must keep your availability and your schedule in mind. So, it’s good policy to establish a set day (appointment) and time for regular sessions or meetings. In this hurry-up-and-make-it-happen world, it’s important to be prepared and make the most of the time you’ve got with your mentee. You owe that to him or her, to the process, and to yourself. And once these time parameters are established, you must keep your commitments wholeheartedly and be ready to listen well and with an open mind, along with providing counsel and advice.

  1. Honesty with diplomacy

Any questions that aren’t addressed can lead to concerns and problems, so you owe it to your mentee to be candid and straightforward with him or her. Dispense with formalities and really help facilitate an open, even lively dialogue–a give-and-take–and don’t beat around the bush in offering your constructive feedback, good and bad. Say what you think your mentee needs to hear from you, not what you think he or she might want to hear. Be willing to debate and discuss in a tactful way. Provide useful, honest guidance while ensuring that your mentee takes the reins and makes his or her own decisions as to next steps or the best course of action.

  1. Inquisitiveness

Being a mentor also means you should continue learning about what’s going on in your industry or business, your school, your community, or the world at large. Remember: What worked a decade ago may not be optimal today, and what works today may not work as well one, two, five, or more years from now. So, continual learning is essential if you plan to continue to be an effective mentor. Always keep an alert eye on trends, topics, and developments that may impact you or your role, both now and in the future. And if your mentee asks you something you don’t know the answer to, do yourself and your mentee a favor and follow up to find the answer.

For a better understanding, please check:

The Art of Becoming a Better Mentor and Mentee – Positive and Negative Aspects of Mentoring

  1. Objectivity and fairness

Remember that a mentoring relationship differs from a friendship. Yes, you like your mentee and care about seeing him or her succeed, but that doesn’t mean you have to socialize with your mentee or follow or friend him or her on social websites like Twitter and Facebook. LinkedIn, specifically designed for business networking, may be a more appropriate connection to establish with your mentee. Also, ensure that there’s no hidden agenda or ulterior motives involved in this relationship. Outside of the mentor-mentee relationship, you don’t owe your mentee any favors, and he or she doesn’t owe you anything except his or her thanks. Equally, others who know you and your mentee don’t owe either of you anything. You can be an advocate for your mentee while still retaining your objectivity and fairness and not unfairly influencing any process either of you may be involved in.

  1. Compassion and genuineness

Just because you must maintain your objectivity and fairness doesn’t mean you can’t show your compassion. In fact, your mentoring relationship probably won’t work if you don’t show your interest and desire to provide one-on-one help and guidance. You must also be selfless about sharing what you know. Keeping your goal in mind–to remain worthy of someone’s trust, model positive behavior and successful performance, and offer guidance and advice toward reaching a specific goal–should be the compass that guides all your actions as a mentor.

If you want to become a mentor and you belong to any groups or organizations, inquire as to whether they have a mentoring program. You may even learn a thing or two from the experience.

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