This is a practice development resource for mentors, and assumes that you have already done some introductory mentor training, and have done some mentoring in practice. It also assumes a shared understanding of mentoring as a specialist educational practice, based on a Humanist philosophy of learning, which involves more than simply the passing of advice from mentor to mentee. Below, I offer five ways you can become a better mentor.
If you were hoping to find out how to recruit a mentor for yourself, please see this resource.
1. CHeck for solid foundations
As a specialist practice, mentoring includes a diverse repertoire of different ideas, processes, techniques, and structures you can use. A google search for ideas for mentoring or coaching, will bring up tons of resources for you to use. What's important is how you deploy these tools. A good mentor works in collaboration with their mentee, in partnership, as an ally. They respect the needs and the choices of the mentee and place these at the centre of the partnership. And they trust their mentee to make their own decisions about their own life, taking a non-judgemental stance, and remaining open minded to different ways of achieving a goal.
A good mentor listens more than they talk. They act as a sounding board for the mentee's thoughts and ideas, amplifying the learner voice.
2. set clear expectations
Using a mentoring ‘agreement' or ‘contract’ is an essential professional and ethical competency for mentors. Don't be inclined to leave important details like the purpose of the mentoring partnership, the aims, what will and won't be delivered, and issues of confidentiality to chance or assumption. Failure to set out an agreement before starting the process, is a common cause of dissatisfaction in a mentoring partnership a major cause of disengagement from mentoring. Use the Mentoring Agreement:
- to outline clearly the purpose of the relationship, and where any professional boundaries lay;
- to specify what you as a mentor can offer;
- to state explicitly what you and the mentee should expect of each other in terms of time and effort; and
- to agree the focus the mentoring sessions will take.