Mentoring Through Explore8
Mentoring is a concept we usually associate with businesses, not schools. However, it is being employed to great effect in our Explore8 program. Mentoring in education is about influence rather than explicit teaching. It is about providing guidance and direction to encourage growth in a student.
During Explore8, each Year 8 student has an adult mentor. That mentor may or may not be one of their teachers. Some mentors are not Year 8 teachers at all but have volunteered to be involved.
During Explore8, the mentor’s role is to meet with their student at regular intervals to keep her on track and accountable. This is important as Explore8 is an independent project and process. This can be daunting for Year 8s who are used to being led by a teacher through learning experiences in a class group.
There are also social-emotional benefits to having a mentor. The girls get to know another adult in the school, who has their best interests at heart. We know that relationships with trusted adults are one of the key factors in building positive mental health in young people.
Over the course of Explore8, a girl’s mentor can be a helpful resource and a sounding board for new ideas. Without rescuing, a good mentor will guide a student through the inevitable frustrations of the project. Often an adolescent will need direction in planning, time management, overcoming procrastination, and in how to deal with adults in the community who may have the information they need for their project. They may also need to be guided through failures until they start to perceive them as learning opportunities.
This year 70 adults are participating in the program as mentors. Their experiences of the role, and the level of input their students require, will vary greatly. Two mentor-mentee pairs were kind enough to answer questions for us.
Pair 1 – Mrs Michelle Carrick and Sarah Gugiatti
Sarah, how has Mrs Carrick guided you so far through your Explore8 journey?
After coming back from my first mentor meeting with Mrs Carrick I felt way more confident with my idea than when I first started Explore8. Mrs Carrick gave me some great questions to think about when doing my research. She gave me lots of constructive feedback and she even gave me some examples of how I could improve my idea even more and it really helped me to get started on what I want to do for this Explore8 project. I feel that Mrs Carrick is a great mentor and will be able to assist me through my Explore8 journey.
Michelle, why do you enjoy mentoring in Explore8?
Mentoring students during Explore8 is an opportunity to see students thriving outside the everyday classroom. I particularly enjoy hearing why students have chosen their problem and how they have worked through the design process to develop a solution. It is evident that in Explore8, the ‘Connecting Learning to Life’ attributes are in action.
Mentors are important whether you are a student or a teacher because they inspire us to dream big and become the best version of ourselves. They can encourage, guide or challenge our approach to, or outlook on, a goal, project or problem
Pair 2 – Mr Geoff Kay and Holly Bear
Geoff, why do you volunteer to mentor in the Explore8 program?
Mentoring provides an opportunity to share a very real learning experience that originates from the student. Once I get to know a student’s interests I enjoy helping her develop a project that matters to her and the wider community, and also working with her through the various bumps and turns along the way. It is great to see the sense of achievement at the end of the project and to think that it might be put to use in the future!
Holly, how has Mr Kay guided you in your project?
At first, I wasn’t really interested in my idea but Mr Kay helped me adjust it so that it was something I really enjoy doing and care about. I’m a boarder and my project is about a rural issue. Because Mr Kay is from the country too, he gets it and is really helpful.