Mindfulness in Mentoring

orangeYes-22j3avjAs Seedling mentors, our sincerest intention is that our mentees feel capable, worthy and competent.  Last month’s Seedling’s Promise training sessions offered elementary school mentors the opportunity to consider mindfulness as a successful approach to building these attributes in their mentees….and themselves!

Mindfulness is the act of paying attention to the present moment, letting go of
everything that is streaming through your head, and focusing on right now. Practicing
mindfulness in mentoring means letting go of your work day, your to-do list, or anything
that takes you away from being completely present and “in the moment” with your mentee.

A Non-directive approach is a wonderful companion to mindfulness when mentoring.

Based on Carl Rogers’ Child-Centered therapeutic model, the non-directive approach encourages the mentor to allow the mentee to make choices in how you spend your time together, in the activities you engage in and to allow him/her to lead the way in problem solving and making decisions. This equal partnership in the relationship empowers and affirms the mentee. Staying in the moment with your mentee as well as listening to what he/she is saying, noticing and sharing in a non-judgmental way, builds self-esteem and promotes his/her confidence. Continue reading

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One Mentor’s Story – Mel Waxler and Lloyd

Mentor & MenteeMel and Lloyd began their ten-year relationship when Lloyd was in his beginning years at Pillow Elementary.

We asked Mel what made him decide to start mentoring.

“Not what,” he answered, “but who – John Blazier!”   John is the founder of the Seedling Foundation and a hard man to resist when he is advocating for children.

Mel said he felt apprehensive about his first mentoring experience. “I worried about my inexperience, the fact that we were from different races, and the time commitment.  My job is demanding and I never want to let a child down.”

We asked what made him proceed despite those apprehensions.

“Seedling’s 24/7 support and guidance,” he said, “and I learned to go with the Mentee’s flow.  I keep games and activities with me, but Lloyd calls the shots and I always remember that it’s not what you say or do that matters…it is showing up.”

His favorite thing about mentoring?  Continue reading

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Empowering Your Mentee

Strength HeartAnd Building on Strengths.

To facilitate the power of building on strengths, mentors attending last month’s Seedling’s Promise Mentor Training were given an exercise that sensitized them to the 40 Developmental Assets and allowed them to identify assets they thought were in their childhood, and to identify those that they thought were in their mentee’s life.

They were then given a picture of a frazzled family sitting in a seemingly chaotic and neglected living room.

When asked to find 10 strengths the family in the picture possessed, the task seemed challenging. But, when encouraged to look through a “strengths perspective” lens, mentors found that positives and potential assets of the family indeed emerged.

Mentors concluded that their horizons were broadened to see that each person’s and family’s array of strengths is unique, and that strengths can look different in different households.

As Seedling’s Promise mentors, we are especially aware of the potential negative effects that having an incarcerated parent may have on a child. A broken family, the risk of
living in poverty, and the likelihood of the child having experienced trauma are
just a few of the difficulties that our mentees face. Although their situation
appears dire, every child, no matter their life circumstances, possesses individual
strengths or assets. It is our job as mentors to recognize these strengths in our
mentees and build on them.

This approach, called Positive Youth Development (PYD), involves enhancing five key skills important for youth to develop, in order to become healthy, successful adults. Known as the 5 Cs of youth development, they are:

  • Competence
  • Confidence
  • Connection
  • Character
  • Caring and Compassion

To learn more about incorporating the 5 Cs into your mentor visits, read Building
the Five Cs or consult Activities You and Your Mentee Can Do in A School Setting.

Click Search Institute to learn more about the 40 Developmental Assets.

~Seedling’s Promise Mentor Program Staff

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How Do I Know if My Mentee Wants Me to Continue?

Mentoring QuestionsSeptember’s Seedling’s Promise Mentoring Program’s “Question of the Month” is a good one.  Depending on the age of your mentee, it may be difficult to tell if they want you to keep mentoring them.

The truth is, Seedling’s Promise’ professional Mentor Directors have already worked hand in hand with the School Contact at your Mentee’s school and that question has been asked and answered if you are already scheduled to start your mentoring again this fall.

But helping you read the verbal and nonverbal cues is what Seedling’s Promise is all about, and this month’s Mentor Minute gives you things to look for and even questions to ask at each grade level!

Kindergarten-5th Grade

6th Grade-8th Grade

9th Grade-12th Grade

Just click on the link that covers your Mentee’s grade and get information that will help you get a great start on this year’s mentoring.

And never forget, your Mentor Director is there to help you along the way!  Contact him or her with any questions that arise and don’t miss the Seedling’s Promise Mentor Support Sessions this year.  We look forward to seeing you there!

-Seedling’s Promise Staff

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The Promise of a New School Year

Back to School KidsAs school starts each fall, we see everywhere the symbolism of beginning and renewal. It’s no accident that the term “a clean slate”, referring to a schoolboy’s tablet for chalk writing, is so common in our vocabulary.

What does the arrival of September mean for a Seedling’s Promise mentee?

For many, it means the return to a healthy and predictable routine, the guarantee of a regular breakfast and a hot lunch, re-connection with friends, and the surety of a mentor’s weekly visit. For most, it also means a new teacher (or several) and new expectations. For 30% or more of our mentees, it even means learning to navigate a new school because the family has moved or chosen a different school option, or because the student is undergoing the big change of entering middle school or high school.

How can a mentor help? Continue reading

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