Time really does fly when you are having fun… Today was the third session of the mentoring programme and the mentees had become accustomed to us and were…could I say generally quite pleased to see us…even though of course it would be too uncool to admit that!
Today’s session took a while to get started. Whatever class or lesson the students had come from had them all hyped up and rather noisy. If it were possible they would have been climbing and bouncing off the walls!
I started the mentees off on a breathing exercise. I needed them to be focused and get the most out of this session, rather than listening to me constantly asking them to quieten down, settle down and the like. Those types of phrases really do not appeal to me and I know they definitely do not go down well with the youth of today either!
Although I knew the mentees were not to keen on the breathing exercises, I was hoping that it would help them calm down and focus, if nothing more. So we spent the next 5 mins taking deep breathes in and releasing them as slowly as we could. I had a mentor sit with each group of mentees, to keep the peace! We got through the exercise without major mishap…
If you recall, session 2 was sort of a little rushed towards the end, due to timing issues. We had started on an activity called the Wheel of Life. This activity required the mentees to prioritise in order of importance, certain aspects of their daily life. The circle of life was cut into 10 sections, each illustrating an area of life. The 10 sections were labelled as thus: – Career, Finances, Physical Environment Obsessions, Health & Fitness, Fun/Recreation, Self-Care, Personal Development/Education, Friends/Community, Family, Significant Other and Spiritual. As much as I thought that Fun/Recreation, and Friends & Community would surpass all the others, I was genuinely surprised that every mentee’s top priority was in this order – Spiritual and Family with some mentees also including Significant Other. We discussed these results as a group and the main highlights were that the mentees appreciated the non-material things in life and placed emphasis on the people closest to them. When I asked the mentees about why spirituality had such a high ranking in their life, they explained that religion played an important part in their upbringing and they felt comfortable in the knowledge that there was a higher power that they could turn to especially when in difficulty.
We also spent a few minutes discussing the other sections and also how the order of priorities may change, as they got older. For example, Career, Finances and Significant Other may take precedence! As the mentees go through the different stages of their lives, the priorities will constantly be changing depending on what is happening in their life. If they were at university, then Career, Personal Development and Education would dominate their priorities list.
One mentee in particular was vocal about the fact that the priorities would start to change very soon, as they would be starting their GCSEs in September. This meant that if they wanted to succeed, then other sections of this wheel would have to be given more importance to guarantee a secure future.
As a passing comment, the co-mentors also mentioned that others, such as family, friends/community and society could influence these priorities. Sometime we take on priorities because we are expected to. It is important not to allow such influences to dictate what is a priority or not, because each individual is different and what is right for one person maybe the wrong choice for another.
We then moved onto an activity called Circle of Excellence. The aim of this activity was to encourage the students to think positively on any experiences where they had performed well or excelled. This would help to combat any feelings of negativity they might feel when it came to carrying out a certain task or performing to a certain level. The mentees were not so confident with this activity. They found it very difficult to pick an activity at which they had previously excelled or a performance that they were proud of.
To put the mentees at ease and help them think, I suggested that each mentor give an example of a time when they felt that they had excelled at something and subsequently had used that event as a motivational pick me up.
One prime example and one, which could be applicable to almost anyone, was related to public speaking. I am sure that my co-mentors and I are not the only ones terrified of public speaking. I still find public speaking a nightmare of the worst kind. I’ve had many a sleepless nights and fear filled years of education due to this expected must which is called public speaking. This nightmare of course doesn’t end there; public speaking is seen as an essential skill to be considered employable. Thankfully for me, initiatives such as volunteering exist, that help me to overcome my fear of public speaking! I really wanted to emphasise to the mentees, that we were also just like them at one stage in our lives, and that if we could find ways to overcome any shortcomings, then they too had the chance to do the same. They didn’t have to fear their shortcomings and live with them. And I wanted to emphasise that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, but in fact summoning the courage to ask for help showed the internal strength of an individual. One of my co-mentors shared her experience with the mentees. She approached her tutor for support with public speaking and slowly but surely by taking part in discussions, reading out loud, working in groups and communicating she overcame her fear of public speaking and even studied Drama at GCSE level!
Now that we had all shared something, we asked the mentees to contribute something, but they were not forthcoming. My co-mentors and I did a round of the tables and spoke to all the mentees on each table and had a little discussion with us mentors prompting times when they could have done something, for example passing an exam, to scoring a winning goal in football match, or finding the courage to act in drama lessons etc.
This activity was the most difficult for my co-mentors and me. Apart from some half hearted input such as I managed to complete my homework whilst listening to loud music and working with my friend to finish our work, we didn’t get any other feedback.
Time to move onto the next activity and focus on positive achievements throughout the next three sessions but not in such an obvious way…
The next activity we had planned was related to the previous activity and I was hoping that the mentees would make the connection. Self awareness, choice and consequence are all an important part of life and growing up. From the above activity, it was clear to me that the mentees were not very self-aware. They rarely noticed their positive actions and attributes which could quite easily be an achievement they could be proud of. We gave each mentee a questionnaire to fill out. This questionnaire asked the mentees to score themselves on each activity using a scale of 0 to 5. The questionnaire related to activities such as, how good they were at completing homework, their attendance at school, confidence levels, time management, how they feel they are performing in school and the level of their desire to succeed.
The mentees scored themselves a 3 for most of the statements, however there were a few 1 and 2s for confidence/self esteem, time management skills and attendance.
I was very pleased that the mentees had tried to be as honest as possible, because it would have been so easy for them to score themselves 4 and 5 for everything. However, the fact that they had been honest and upfront meant that they were self aware to a certain degree.
I hoped next weeks session on self-awareness relating to choice and consequence would prove useful and that in the future the mentees would always stop and think about consequences before taking any action or even lack of action.
Session 3 Plan
This session will look at balancing priorities and expectations. Priorities and expectations can be set by one’s self or others, for example family, teachers, the school, employers and further education institutes. It is important to know how to manage these priorities and expectations otherwise you could find yourself constantly battling to please everyone and not succeeding or worse giving up.
Activity 1 – Will look a little deeper and discuss the results from the Wheel of Life exercise from the end of last session.
Activity 2 – Circle of excellence (pg19) – to encourage students to think of a positive experience where they excelled, to help them overcome any negative feelings or when they feel unable to do their best.
Activity 3 – Self Awareness, choice and consequence (pg20) Questionnaire on pg20 – (look at Self Awareness next session – The choices made relating to priorities and expectations and the consequences of the choices made).
(How to be a mosaic mentor – pg9 – Iceberg model)
Summary – highlights of the session and what techniques the students will want to carry on using and why.