The Keys to Mentoring

Ron Clark Academy - Peer Mentoring Program

Mentorship: Pay It Forward

"Mentoring is a way to pass on what you know, and it works both ways--finding someone who can teach you the ropes and then showing the ropes to someone else."

Keywords: "MGM"

Mentor: someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person; coach, tutor

Mentee: a person who has a mentor; protégé

Guidance: help or advice that tells you what to do; the act or process of guiding someone or something

History of Mentoring

The story of Mentor comes from Homer's Odyssey. Odysseus, king of Ithaca, fights in the Trojan War and entrusts the care of his household to Mentor, who serves as teacher and overseer of Odysseus' son, Telemachus.

After the war, Odysseus is condemned to wander vainly for ten years in his attempt to return home. In time, Telemachus, now grown, ventures in search of his father. Athena, Goddess of War and patroness of the arts and industry, assumes the form of Mentor and accompanies Telemachus on his quest. Father and son reunite and cast down would-be usurpers of Odysseus' throne and Telemachus's birthright.

The word Mentor evolved to mean trusted advisor, friend, teacher and wise person. History offers many examples of helpful mentoring relationships: Socrates and Plato, Hayden and Beethoven, Freud and Jung. Mentoring is a fundamental form of human development where one person invests time, energy and personal know-how in assisting the growth and ability of another person.

History and legend record the deeds of princes and kings, but each of us has a birthright to actualize our potential. Through their deeds and work, mentors help us to move toward that actualization.

*From Shea, Gordon F. (1997) Mentoring (Rev. Ed.). Menlo Park, CA: Crisp Publications

The Keys to Effective Mentoring

These keys are essential to unlocking the magic of mentoring. You are helping to guide and shape someone's experience.

  1. Accompanying: In a caring way, take part in the learning process with your mentee. Be side-by-side with them during their journey. Are you committed?
  2. Sowing: mentors are often confronted with the difficulty of preparing the learner before he or she is ready to change. Sowing is necessary when you know that what you say may not be understood or even acceptable to learners at first but will make sense and have value to the mentee when the situation requires it. What seeds are you sowing?
  3. Catalyzing: when change reaches a critical level of pressure, learning can escalate. How do you adjust when faced with adversity? What recommendations will you tell your mentee?
  4. Showing: this is making something understandable, or using your own example to demonstrate a skill or activity. You show what you are talking about, you show by your own behavior. Are your actions clear and consistent? How are you modeling what you have sowed?
  5. Harvesting: here the mentor focuses on "picking the ripe fruit": it is usually used to create awareness of what was learned by experience and to draw conclusions. Because of your guidance, how has your mentee changed?

(Adapted and paraphrased) - Aubrey, Bob & Cohen, Paul (1995). Working Wisdom: Timeless Skills and Vanguard Strategies for Learning Organizations. Jossey Bass. pp. 23, 44–47, 96–97.

Where do I start ?

  • Agree on best communication options: Text, Calls, In-person, etc
  • Agree on best times to connect: ex. after 5PM, on Saturdays, etc
  • Eat lunch with mentee at least 4x per month
  • Discuss main concerns or areas of improvement
  • You are guiding, not forcing actions
  • Be open-minded
  • Be honest
  • Be yourself!

Having issues?

Being a mentor is voluntary.

If you think your schedule will not allow you to foster a mentoring relationship, you need suggestions, or you are having issues, please let Ms. Thompson know.