Mentoring is an effective and engaging approach used in education to improve growth in students, both academically and personally. Successful mentoring fosters and supports leadership development, developmental goals, and academic success. Mentoring programs are in place to provide guidance, support, and encouragement to both the mentees and the mentors.
What Is Mentoring in the Classroom?
One of the primary reasons classroom mentoring began was to help struggling students learn and achieve goals. There are many different types of mentor relationships, such as peer mentoring, student-teacher mentoring, and community volunteer mentoring. However, peer and student mentoring is typically the easiest to facilitate, eliminating the need for outside volunteers and programs.
Regardless of the types of mentoring being used, the goal is to provide students with the support and guidance they need to build academic and personal confidence. Mentoring can help students make personal goals and have someone to hold them accountable to follow the steps it takes to achieve them.
In a peer or student mentoring situation, students within the same class can either mentor one another or older students can step in to mentor younger ones. When looking for mentors, you want someone who will have a positive influence on the other students’ life and exhibit traits you want to encourage for the mentee.
Mentors should be those who demonstrate leadership skills, make good choices, and work hard. Additionally, it helps to look for a personal connection between the mentor and mentee. If the mentee feels connected to their mentor, they are more likely to let them in and look up to them, experiencing the most that mentoring has to offer.
What Are the Benefits of Mentoring in the Classroom?
Mentoring isn’t a common practice, but we think it should be. Here are just a few benefits of using mentorship programs in the classroom.
Encourages Academic Performance
The purpose of mentoring is to give students someone trustworthy to act as a role model. Research has shown that mentoring can encourage school attendance, which is crucial for supporting academic performance. Students can only truly learn if they show up and are willing to be engaged in the curriculum.
When a student has something positive to look forward to or a positive relationship with someone they trust, they may be more willing to attend school and may even look forward to it. This, in turn, can reduce the risk of dropping out of school.
Students have a way of connecting and learning from one another that is quite different from how a student learns via instruction from a teacher. Students are able to build off of each other’s knowledge through conversation and collaboration to support both personal development and career development.
Furthermore, it has been shown that a student’s knowledge is reinforced when they are able to teach the content to someone else, so both students can benefit academically from the positive impact of peer mentoring.
Peer mentoring is a wonderful way to help encourage a student’s self-confidence and self-esteem. Through regular interactions and building relationships, mentees are given a friend to help build their confidence and work through problems.
Students may feel nervous or embarrassed to ask for help from a teacher, but it can be easier for them to talk through things with friends. This may also act as a sounding board to help them understand the content a little better, which can boost their sense of confidence.
This provides opportunities for academic reinforcement and clarification, allowing the mentee to feel more confident as they continue to develop their competencies. This relationship and academic support can have a positive impact on these students’ personal lives as they become more willing to take risks and step outside of their predetermined comfort zones.
Increased self-confidence can lead to greater engagement in class, a feeling of belonging, and even an increase in the chances that a child will raise their hand and ask for help when needed.
Engagement and Motivation
Mentors can play a crucial role in motivating and engaging students in their school work. A huge factor in an unmotivated student is a lack of understanding. Regular feedback, guidance, and encouragement from a mentor can help students remain engaged and more committed to their schoolwork.
It creates a more personalized approach to learning, which can keep a student more focused and engaged. Mentors are able to focus on their mentees and tailor their teaching and leadership roles to meet the needs of their mentees.
This is particularly helpful for students who struggle with traditional classroom or whole-group instruction. Whether it be trouble focusing or resistance to asking questions and participating in a large group setting, this more individualized support can help break down barriers in learning.
Learning can go from being a huge challenge to being something that is actually obtainable and fun once concepts are reviewed and taught in a way a child can understand. The goal is to make learning accessible to all students, and even small amounts of help from a mentor can lead to big results.
Positive Role Models
Mentors naturally serve as role models and positive influences for their mentees, inspiring them to achieve goals and aim for success. A mentor with a positive attitude and outlook can be contagious. Oftentimes mentees adapt to this positive attitude and start having a better outlook on their education and school as a whole.
Having this positive relationship in their lives can help students work through challenges and navigate things they are dealing with both academically and personally. This is why the choice of the mentor is so important, as the most crucial part of the mentor/mentee relationship is connection.
What Is Reverse Mentoring?
Alternative to the types of mentoring we’ve been discussing, reverse mentoring changes the game and flips the roles. This is essentially a relationship where younger or less experienced students serve as mentors for someone older or more experienced.
In a school setting, this can teach leadership skills and confidence to younger students, giving them a chance to teach someone older than them. It can also be fun for the older students to act as a learner and allow the younger student to teach them. Even if they already know the content itself, they can learn empathy and gain a new perspective.
This concept was initially created by CEO Jack Welch, who used this approach to help his experienced employees stay more up-to-date on new technological trends from younger employees. While this was intended to help his older employees learn newer concepts, it ended up helping the newer employees feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their roles as well, which positively affected employee retention.
Reverse mentoring can foster a sense of purpose in those who feel discouraged. It can promote inclusion and set young learners up for success, allowing them to step into the shoes of a leader for a change.
In schools, this can even go as far as allowing the students to teach something to their teacher. Imagine the pride a student would feel knowing that they taught their teacher, someone who is supposed to know far more than them, something new!
It’s a Two-Way Street
Successful mentoring is not a one-way street. After a relationship is built, mentors and mentees can often switch roles and teach each other different things. In an ideal mentoring situation, both participants get a lot out of the partnership, regardless of any age or experience gap.
When mentors and mentees become comfortable enough with each other to begin exchanging knowledge and communication skills, the relationship becomes mutually beneficial. A mentee may start as a student needing guidance and help, but as their confidence and communication skills grow, they may even start sharing new things and ideas with their mentor.
This type of relationship can foster a more collaborative and inclusive learning environment where both students feel valued and respected. This is the generally most effective type of mentoring, creating and growing two leaders rather than one.
Embracing a two-way mentoring relationship builds stronger connections and helps both parties develop new skills and knowledge to succeed personally and academically.
Long-Term Mentoring Benefits
While mentoring can have a great impact on school-age children, its effects can last well into adulthood. The communication that students adapt from working with peers is a vital part of career development. Goal setting in school can help the student eventually set career goals and professional development.
Mentoring grows better leaders that employers may look to in order to enhance their company culture, employee engagement, and professional growth.
Mentoring alone can build relationships that lead to networking opportunities or lasting friendships. When students work with a mentor, they can practice self-reflection and create habits of working harder to better themselves. These new perspectives can open up leadership positions later in life, where the process comes full circle, and the mentee becomes a leader.
Here at Primer, we believe that mentoring makes all the difference. To learn more about our educational approach, send us an email — we’re happy to introduce a new face to the magical world of microschooling!
Mentoring for Enhancing School Attendance, Academic Performance, and Educational Attainment | National Mentoring Resource Center
Empowering Students to Learn from Each Other | Harvard Business Publishing Education
From the CEO: Reverse mentoring | Association for Manufacturing Excellence
How Kids Can Overcome the Awkwardness of Asking for Help | Edutopia
How Mentoring Can Be a 2-Way Partnership | Edutopia