Types of Mentoring

MentorshipThere is no one particular model for mentoring that must be used. The type of model used depends on several factors:

  • Age of the students to be mentored
  • Goals of the local mentoring program
  • Participating school’s needs
  • Mentors involved in the program (students or adults?)

Activities that work best are usually a good blend of hands-on academic tasks and less structured time. Karcher (2005) states that, from a developmental point of view, the most successful efforts in mentoring are those that engage children in developmentally appropriate ways sharing opinions or learning information, and using those “learned” or shared perspectives to work cooperatively … with the mentor on a joint activity. Below are only a few types of mentoring that have been found to be successful.

Targeted Skills Tutoring (TST):  

With Targeted Skill Tutoring, the classroom teacher selects students to be mentored and together with the student determines the frequency of tutoring sessions. Multiple mentors may work with the same student in some situations. The teacher provides specific instructions for the mentor to follow and the mentor documents (usually on a file card) the progress and where the mentoring session ended. With this type of mentoring, rather than always reading from a book, various reading skills may be worked on in isolation.

Book Discussion Groups:

This method of mentoring involves working with small groups of students. The students and the mentor all read a book independently and at designated times, meet for mentor-led discussion sessions. To have successful discussions with this type of mentoring, the following tips are helpful:

  • Have the group decide on ground rules for discussion.
  • Make sure the mentor facilitates the discussion and asks questions when conversation is stalled.
  • Encourage students to respond to one another in addition to responding to adult questions.
  • Provide students with adequate time to put their words together.
  • Prepare discussion questions ahead of time (teachers may help with this or provide questions).
  • Ask a wide variety of discussion questions, including thought-provoking questions.
  • Have students select favorite passages to read aloud to the group.
  • Select books carefully (teachers may select).

Book-Making Center

This method of literacy mentoring works well with older peer mentors (although adult mentors may be used). It can be used in conjunction with other mentoring programs and/or activities. The book-making activity may require several mentoring sessions per mentee.

Have older students read aloud to the entire class. For young elementary students, story time is the perfect time for a peer to read a story. Each student makes his/her own book and then reads their book aloud to the class.

There are numerous ways to make and bind books. Directions and videos to follow can be found online. Here is one method and the supplies needed.

In a designated area, set up a “book making center” that has the following supplies:

  • Clear contact paper
  • Construction paper
  • Plain white paper (8 ½ x 11)
  • Stapler
  • Glue (Elmer’s White glue works)
  • Paper clips
  • Markers, crayons, colored pencils, pens
  • Computer access (for typing only)

One mentor and one student work at the designated area. The student will create his/her own book. The student either dictates to the mentor, who writes on the blank pages, types the story using a computer, or hand-writes the story. For younger students, one sentence and one picture per page will work well.

Fold the pages in half cross-wise before writing/illustrating. (Eight sheets of paper, folded in half work well.) After writing the story, the student illustrates his/her own book. The students own art work is suggested, although cut-out pictures can be used. Create a title page with the name of the story and the name of the author, along with an illustration.

After the story and cover page are complete:

  • Stack paper nearly
  • Staple the pages together going down the center of the pages, with the stapler opened out.
  • Using big paper clips to hold the folded pages together,  fold thin cardboard, poster paper, or some paper heavier than typing pager, around the “spine” of the book and glue to the book  (trim to fit if necessary)
  • Using the clear contact paper, cover the front and back covers to bind the book

A classroom library of original stories can be created and student may check out the original books. At the end of the school year, students take home their own books.

Incorporating Character Building Using Staff as Mentors

The following plan utilizes building faculty and staff and incorporates character building into the mentoring program.

“Each One Has One

Every staff member (teachers, assistant teachers, cafeteria staff and janitorial staff) was used to match 1 adult with 5/6 students. Mentors and mentees met weekly, but not at the same time as to not take time from the same class. The schedule was published in advance. The purpose of the time was for each student to know that someone cared about him/her. The mentors had access to grades and were to ask about academics, to encourage students to stay in school, to accept the student, to be a role model, to help the student set goals, and to be a friend.

They were to ask about what they were reading. One goal was to get the students to cut down on watching TV and playing video games. Each week’s session began with a character building suggestion. The mentors were the same from year to year, if at all possible, for consistency and the relationships grew stronger. The end results saw an increase in attendance and academics.  Additionally, a decrease in TV time and an increase in reading occurred.

Library statistics revealed positive results through an increase in number of books checked out. Some funds used were from a Character Building Grant to offer some “happies” throughout the year. Through this program the staff felt that everyone gained from the project— both adults and students.

The list of activities that can take place in a mentor/mentee program is virtually limitless. The following box, provided by the U.S. Department of Education, offers some activities that can be conducted in a school setting:

Activities We Can Do During the School Day

  • Reading together
  • Studying for a test
  • Completing homework
  • Curriculum-specific activities or learning exercises related to what is being taught in the classroom
  • Reviewing previous tests and homework
  • Doing research on the internet
  • Doing research in the school library
  • Creating a notebook to organize school work
  • Creating academic goals (long- and short-term)

Working with Special Needs Students

Students with special needs also benefit greatly from having a mentor. Some examples of students with special needs include:

  • Intellectually disabled
  • English Language Learners (ELL)
  • Homeless students

The mentor should be sensitive to the needs of these students. For the intellectually disabled students, reading may include using adapted text, which means pictures are present over the words. ELL students may also benefit from having a word-picture match.  Teachers working with students in these populations may provide special materials for the mentor to use.

Additionally, for any student having reading difficulties, when reading comprehension is the goal, it is usually allowable for the mentor to read aloud to the student before asking comprehension questions about the text. Sometimes, tests may be read aloud to students with special needs. Check with the student’s teacher to see if a mentee requires being read to by the mentor.