By Preston Frazier / November 12, 2020

Making a difference through mentoring

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin

A mentor is “someone who provides support and helps the mentee to review their situation through a process of reflection, questions, signposting, challenge, advice and feedback” (National Mentoring Day).

If you do any of the things listed in this definition, you are amazing and doing something good for someone!

Whether or not you believe it, we all need individuals in our lives who can guide us and lead us in the right direction. Students and children need mentors and role models to help them through life, maybe now more than ever!

Importance of Mentoring

Mentors matter. And the statistics show it. Did you know, as referenced on NationalMentoringDay.org

  • Seventy percent of small businesses that receive mentoring survive for five years or more, which is double the rate of non-mentored entrepreneurs.
  • Of those with a mentor, 97 percent say they are valuable. 
  • And, of those with a mentor, 55 percent believe mentoring can help them succeed.

And while statistics are great, we think real experiences are even more impactful. I was recently able to catch up with St. Louis FIRST® Tech Challenge mentor Jennifer Martin. Jennifer is a coach of FIRST Tech Challenge teams 5481 and 5560 and helps coach and mentor FIRST LEGO® League, FIRST LEGO League Junior, and FIRST Robotics Challenge teams in the St. Louis area. She spends many hours every week making an impact in the lives of children and knows a lot about being a valuable mentor in STEM.

I was able to ask her some questions that might help you as well.

A Mentee’s Experience

Tell me a little bit about being a FIRST mentor.

Jennifer states, “FIRST mentors are always willing to help each other. The FIRST community is definitely that: a community of individuals that work on a common good of helping others in STEM.”

It’s amazing how similarly the FIRST mentors align with the mentor definition from above.

The beauty of the FIRST community is that it just shows even more that there are so many others who can be a mentor to a child!

Teachers can be mentors.
Principals can be mentors.
Parents can be mentors.

What do you enjoy most about being a mentor?

Jennifer says the part she enjoys is “collaboration aspects that we are learning from each other.” She also states the aha moments with the team members are one thing that get her excited. Even though she mentions the team learning, Jennifer understands that she can gain so much from interacting with the students. She enjoys being able to work with students to accomplish a goal and that their time together is not just a time for the students to learn.

Photo from 2019 FIRST LEGO League Championship

When you are mentoring, you learn just as much as the student!

What’s some advice you can provide about being a mentor?

“As a mentor, I believe the best advice is to act as a facilitator of discussions, and ask questions.” She also adds, “Especially this year, be flexible.” Jennifer understands the importance of adaptability, especially during this interesting and challenging year (to say the least!) of 2020. When it comes to asking questions, she encourages students to ask questions even when they might not know the answer. It all goes back to this being a learning experience for the mentor as well.

Isn’t that the truth?! We all need to be a little more flexible this year and approach others with grace and mercy.

  • We can be flexible in how we can be reached and how we can be contacted.
  • We can be flexible about deadlines and timelines.
  • We can be flexible when something else comes up and an event needs to be cancelled.

She also mentions even though collaboration is different this year, it is not impossible and can be attained.

Knowing that this is the year of flexibility and adaptability, in what other ways can you be flexible and still collaborate?

Thanks to All Mentors 

Looking back at the advice and input Jennifer provided, I think we all would agree that more mentors are needed.

There is a National Mentoring Day in October, but any day is a great day to recognize those who consider themselves mentors. There are so many others out there who are making a BIG difference in the lives of others, especially those of children.

KUDOS to all of you!

Do you consider yourself a mentor? If so, why do you consider yourself a mentor?

We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below. Thank you for all you do!

Stay safe!

Sources:
National Mentoring Day – Facts and FAQ
National Mentoring Day – About

 

TOPICS: IN THE CLASSROOM, BEYOND THE CLASSROOM, Teacher Resources, Collaborations, Culture, FIRST Tech Challenge, STEM, Trends, Resources, Teacher Development, Hands-on Learning, Workforce Development

Preston Frazier

Written by Preston Frazier

Hi all! I’m one of Pitsco’s educational account representatives and have the pleasure of serving the Midwest. I travel quite a bit visiting with teachers, and presenting at workshops whenever I have the opportunity to do so. I’m an alum of the University of Missouri and Pittsburg State University and a supporter of our Big Brothers Big Sisters local chapter. I love traveling, going to sporting events, and hanging out with my wife and daughter whenever possible.