The challenges of being a mentor (and educator)

Thanks to one of my mentors for this very interesting and insightful blog post:

WEEK 6

Where did all the mentees go?

From frustration –> some satisfaction.

Frustration:

So today as usual we finished our normal lecture and headed off to provide support to our allocated group of mentees. I left the class with an enthusiastic mood looking forward to meeting the mentee hoping that today there will be a big turn up, given the fact that the mentees have a task to accomplish next week as one of the requirements for their Becoming an Educationalist module.  Today we were going to  support the mentees with building and /or finishing their posters which they are to present in week7 in the Multi-modal exhibition. Since we had been in the same situation last year, the task was not going to be had.

We started off with four mentees hoping that the group would get bigger; unfortunately to my surprise no other student joined the group, despite the class having over 30 mentees. When I made inquiries from another mentor group, they also had about 6 mentees turning up. This has not been the first time that the mentees do not turn up in a big number as they are supposed to. For the last three weeks all our mentor groups have been experiencing the same problem. So why is this happening? Could it be that the mentees know what they are doing and they do not need our support? Or is us the mentors that we do not know what we are doing or lack organisation skills?

This situation made me reflect on my own behaviour, that this could be the same feeling teachers get when I or my peers do not turn up to class, worst still without letting the teachers know of their absence. From this moment I confirmed that there is no doubt that students can absolutely  injure the dignity of the teacher, and it is only natural for the teacher to feel exasperated if a student does not  turn up at school or in class (Chandra and ‎Kumar Sharma , 2004).

I think the lecturers need to put up some intervention in place so see that this problem is solved for the benefit of both mentors and mentees, because much as I learn from supporting them, they also benefit a lot from my support because peer mentoring is a two way learning process.

You know when you get into a contract with somebody you get held by that. Because today made me think twice whether I did the right choice for choosing peer mentoring as a module. But then I thought twice and said, at least it is not an empty class since there are some mentees best show them some respect.

We asked them whether they would like any help with the finishing of their posters and they all seemed fine. So we asked them whether there is any other help they need. So everyone had their own questions, and since we were also 4 mentors who turned up today, so our session turned out to be a one to one.  I worked with one student who approached me to give her some insights on what she has to do or go about writing a research proposal. She claimed did not understand how to do it and would like to make a start so she does not follow behind with her assignment. I went through it with her and showed her the layout following what was written/drawn in their module hand book.

Working with one to one change my mood and I felt some satisfaction at the end of the session because I felt I had helped one to achieve something even though that was not what was planned to be. It made me feel that some active learning for both me and the mentee has taken place, which I believe is one of the most rewarding feeling for any educator. Knowing that the pupils/ students who came to your class did not leave the way they came is amazing.

And this was my satistaction in the end.

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