Mentor Tips

Below are tips and hints to assist mentors as they work with their mentees. Compiled by Match Supervisor Samana Budhathoki, we hope the information is useful in creating a most successful mentoring experience, no matter what stage of the relationship.



Teaching the growth mindset

There’s scientific evidence that neural connections grow and become stronger the more you struggle with learning and correct your mistakes. Based on research by Stanford Professor, Carol Dweck and her colleagues, we know that students with a growth mindset– the belief that intelligence is not just something that you are born with-have higher levels of success than those with a fixed mindset. Teaching your students about this concept has the potential to make them grittier, more positive, and more successful in their careers and everyday lives.

Watch a short video here: Carol Dweck, “Developing a growth mindset”


How to Motivate Your Mentee to Focus On School?  Notes from our Mentor Workshop Ask A Tutor With Belinda Watson

  1. Ask for your mentee’s purpose/dream/interest. If he/she doesn’t have any, help to build one.
  2. Assist your mentee to define a mission statement. Once you have a mission statement, help to make it happen. Recall SMART goals.
  3. Create a vision statement with small things that will ultimately lead to achieving the main mission/goal.
  4. Advice to take responsibility of their past to mold their present and future. You can do a quick activity using statements like: Today I am _______________ I take responsibility for _______________ My future is  ___________________.
  5. If your mentee has short-focus span, ask him/her to take quick breaks. If the longest he/she can focus is 10 mins, so be it. Remember, quality over quantity.
  6. Introduce timers to determine study/break times.
  7. Propose the idea of Alpha and Beta task. Alpha task is everything major required to do to acquire a goal. For example, it is absolutely required to study to pass an exam. Here, studying is an alpha task to obtain the goal of passing an exam. Beta task is anything that can compliment to achieve the objective. For instance, keeping a planner to formulate study schedules can definitely be helpful to pass an exam, however; it is not a necessity/requirement. Thus, keeping a planner is a beta task.
Your Responsibility As A Mentor: 
  • Communicate and reach out to your mentee in the most genuine way you can. This is your relationship, only you can make it special.
  • Remind your mentee: “Yes! You can.
  • Encourage to adopt helpful time management and organizational skills like using timers and keeping planners.
  • Ask/Look for resources to help your mentee. However, do not solve his/her problems. In other words, help your student become self-reliant rather than dependent on you.



8 Types of Asset that All Youths Need.   From A Mentee’s Point of View.

1. Support: Experiencing people and places that are accepting & loving.
  • Do things with me
  • Try to understand me
  • Never give up on me
  • Listen to me
  • Love me
  • Show me you care about my school work
2. Empowerment: Knowing they are valued and valuable.
  • Teach by example
  • give me ideas & feedback
  • Let me make my own decisions
  • Accept & understand my mistakes
  • Give me a voice
3. Boundaries & Expectations: Understanding the limits & possibilities.
  • Be a role model
  • Be supportive
  • Help me grow to be an individual
  • Ask me where I’m going
  • Be concerned
  • Be Aware
  • Challenge me to succeed and comfort me when I fail
4. Constructive Use of Time: Being involved in enriching and structured activities.
  • Inspire me
  • Help me balance my time
  • Let me have time for freedom
5. Commitment to Learning: Believing that education is important & engaging.
  • Feed my interests
  • Welcome me
  • Pay attention to me
  • Respect me
  • Help me treat school as if it were my job
6. Positive Values: Caring for others & holding high standards for self.
  • Accept me, no matter how different I am from you
  • Use common courtesy
  • Be honest with me
  • Help me act from my ideals
  • Be honest with yourself
7. Social Competencies: Developing skills & relationships for life.
  • Be a good role model
  • Teach acceptance & respect so we won’t have to learn tolerance
  • Show me how to turn strangers into friends
8. Positive Identity: Believing in their personal power, purpose, & potential.
  • Celebrate my uniqueness
  • Help me find my talents
  • Help me to learn to be happy with myself
  • Give me sincere compliments
  • Encourage my success & lift me up if I fail


Building Relationships: A Guide For Mentors

While establishing a friendship may sound easy, it often is not. Adults and youth are separated by age and, in many cases, by background and culture. Even mentors with good instincts can stumble or be blocked by difficulties that arise from these differences. It takes time for youth to feel comfortable just talking to their mentor, and longer still before they feel comfortable enough to share a confidence. Learning to trust-especially for young people who have already been let down by adults in their lives-is a gradual process. Mentees cannot be expected to trust their mentors simply because program staff members have put them together. Developing a friendship requires skill and time.
What are the qualities of an effective mentor? Here are some important features of successful mentor’s attitude and style:
  • Be a friend: Don’t act like a parent. Don’t try to be an authority figure. Don’t preach about values. Do focus on establishing a bond, a feeling of attachment, a sense of equality, and the mutual enjoyment of shared time.
  • Have realistic goals and expectations: Focus on the whole person and his/her overall development. Especially early on, center your goals on the relationship itself.
  • Have fun together: Throughout the relationship, emphasize friendship over performance. Many youth involved in mentoring programs have few opportunities for fun. Having fun together shows your mentee that you are reliable and committed.
  • Give your mentee voice and choice in deciding on activities: Give a range of choices concerning possible activities. Create ideas together. Listen. Emphasize to your mentee that her/his enjoyment is important to you. If your mentee is extremely reticent and you feel as though you have to play the lead role in choosing activities, you can say that you want the activities to be fun with his/her participation.
  • Keep Boundaries: Once young people are comfortable enough to request activities, they might make requests that are extravagant, such as asking you to buy them clothes, books, food. Do not set any expectation that you may not be able to fulfill each time you meet. Feel comfortable about setting clear limits with regards to money and gifts.
  • Be positive: Offer frequent expressions of direct confidence. Be encouraging even when talking about potentially troublesome topics, such as grades. Offer concrete assistance.
  • Let your mentee have much of the control over what the two of you talk about-and how you talk about it: Don’t push. Be sensitive and responsive to your mentee’s cues. Understand that young people vary in their styles of communicating and their habits of disclosure. Be direct in letting your mentee know that she or her can confide in you without fear of judgement or exposure. Remember that the activities you do together can become a great source of conversation.
  • Listen: Just listening gives mentees a chance to vent and lets them know that they can disclose personal matters to you without worrying about being criticized. When you listen, your mentee can see that you are a friend, not an authority figure.
  • Respect the trust your mentee places in you: Respond in ways that show you see your mentee’s side of things. Reassure your mentee that you will be there for him/her. If you give advice, give it sparingly. If you give advice, be sure it is focused on identifying solutions. If, on occasion, you feel you have to convey concern or displeasure, do so in a way that also conveys reassurance and acceptance. Sound like a friend, not like a parent/teacher.
  • Remember that you are responsible for building the relationship:Take responsibility for making and maintaining contact. Understand that the feedback and reassurance characteristics of adult-to-adult relationships are often beyond the capacity of youth.
(Adapted from Building Effective  Strategies for Providing Quality Relationships: Youth Mentoring in Schools and Communities, 2007)


Why read?

Why does Power 4 Youth insist that you & your mentee regularly spend a portion of your time reading? Here are top 10 reasons for you & your student to understand why reading is important & how it can be beneficial.
  1. Expands Vocabulary. While reading, we can learn new words & new ways to use words we already know. It is proven that being well-spoken is beneficial in both social & work situations.
  2. Improves Analytical Thinking. Reading a good mystery novel or thriller will keep us trying to figure out what happens next & to whom!
  3. Improves Imagination. Unlike TV, while reading a book we have to use our imagination to picture the surroundings & what the character may look like or sound like.
  4. Improves Memory. Remembering character names, plot & other twists or backstory the author may have included creates new synaptic pathways & strengthens existing ones.
  5. Reduces Stress. Studies have shown that as little as 6 minutes of reading can reduce a person’s heartbeat & relieve tension.
  6. Builds self-esteem.The more we read, the more knowledgeable we become, & in public discussions we will feel more confident voicing our opinion.
  7. Increases knowledge. The more we read about a subject, the more we will learn about it, & if we read enough we can become an expert!
  8. Increases Empathy. Reading biographies & eyewitness accounts can help us better understand the decisions made by actual people.
  9. Helps Understand Culture. Reading about different countries & cultures, especially those we would like to visit or interact with, will save us from any embarrassing faux pas.
  10. Provides Endless Entertainment. No matter what we are interested in, a book has been written about it & we just might learn something we didn’t know!

Why Journal?

Why does Power 4 Youth emphasize & encourage journal writing? Here are some reasons why we practice journal writing:

  • To relieve stress: It is better to let it all out in written words then a fist slammed through a wall.
  • To set, track and accomplish goals: “A goal not written is only a wish.”
  • To understand that most limits are self-created and intangible: Those negative voices in our head– we make up most of them and most of them don’t even exist– journals will help us find out which ones aren’t true.
  • To build grammar, spelling and vocabulary: “The best place to learn how to sing is in the shower.”
  • To practice writing and increase confidence: To be the absolute best at something, we need to spend at least 10,000 hours doing that thing.
  • To clear the mind: When we write about something else in our journal other than the problem we are facing, we tend to have a clear head, where solutions will be much clearer.
  • To have a confidant when no one else will listen: Journals are always there to listen. Especially, if we carry it around in your pocket. 
  • To Record inspirations: Journals will prevent our inspiration from slipping from our mind.
  • Hobby journal: With our journal, we can keep better track of things that we are passionate about.
  • Dream diaries: We can record our dreams in our journals– who knows, one might eventually come true!

(Read More: Check out 101 reasons to write journals & share it with your mentee 🙂 )


Ways to Use Meeting Time During the Last Two Weeks Of School

In order to make productive use of the last days of school, try following advices:
  • Encourage your student to finish well. Ask you mentee to complete make-up works for the chance to bring up their grades.
  • Make memories. Organize a wide variety of activities that your mentee likes and spend some fun time with him/her.
  • Write and reflect. Have your student write in their journals about this school year– their main accomplishments and lessons throughout the school year.
  • Make a difference. Involve students in community service work. Something as simple as making cards for other people in the program or local nursing homes can make a huge difference.
  • Keep learning. Play games that involve learning such as scrabble and/or hangman.
  • Encourage your mentee to make lists of at least four or five books they would like to read over the break. Explicitly setting the goal to read at least a few books sends students off for the summer with a reading plan and some specific titles they have self-selected to read.
  • Make your parting message a positive yet realistic one. At this time of the year, students are hyperactive or absent or hoping you’ll just let them play with their phones. Even if you are tired and can’t wait for the students to leave for summer break, find ways to show them that you are proud of their progress and will miss them.
  • Think ahead to next year. Invite your students to leave behind advice for those who will follow in their footsteps or to write informative letters to the teachers who will teach them next year. Brainstorm new goals for new school year based on the reflection made on their highs and lows of this year.
  • Evaluate. Ask students for feedback about the program, your role as a mentor, and activities done in your meeting over the year.


Closure: Preparing to say goodbye

Very important read for mentors who know for certain that they won’t be returning next year:
“All’s Well that Ends Well”
In the field of mentoring, the life cycle of a relationship is marked by stages. First comes the work of recruitment, screening, and training. Next is the excitement of the match and first meetings. Then there is the ongoing support and the pride at progress being made. But there is another stage in the mentoring relationship: the match closure. In this life cycle, closure is a vital part of the process, offering a forum to recognize the work of participants and frame the benefits of the relationship.
Importance of the Closure Process
The match closure process serves various purposes:
  • It may be a time to celebrate successes, highlight growth and lessons learned, and recognize the relationship that has been created.
  • From a programmatic standpoint, the closure may serve as a formal endpoint for tracking purposes, providing an opportunity to gather feedback or denote progress made on pre-determined indicators.
  • The match closure may also be a time to say “thank you” or “good-bye.”  For mentees – particularly at-risk youth – this may not be a common occurrence. Children who have experienced the loss of a parent or loved one, incarceration, the uncertainty of a home struggling with drugs or alcohol, or have spent time in foster care often deal with unexpected changes in relationships.
  • Unplanned, abrupt endings can lead to feelings of uncertainty.  In contrast, marking the completion of a mentoring relationship with a planned process provides stability and a sense of security. Even for relationships with a rocky history, the closure process can help mentees and mentors focus on the positive aspects of their time together, helping them to look back on their involvement and identify the benefits.
The first step to minimize the difficulties with closure is to share with the Match Supervisor any plans you have about ending the relationship before you talk to your student. Same step if your student mentions about quitting. Together, you can create the best strategy to ending the relationship and making saying goodbye a positive learning experience.
Most of our students (many adults, too, for that matter) have experienced many unhappy ended relationships in their lives. As kids, most relationships ended without any input from themselves. Many youth simply don’t know what healthy goodbyes look like. We can use the experience of saying goodbye as a teaching opportunity. Even as you leave, you are a positive role model. As you say goodbye, you are teaching how to end relationships without trauma. Because you are role-modeling a life experience, it is important to not rush into the “big goodbye” conversation to hastily. Use the opportunity to help your student understand that relationships do end, though it is not necessarily anyone’s fault. Help her/him see that although it is normal to be sad, good things came out of the relationship that will be with you each for your whole lifetime, that this is a normal part of life.
Along with discussing a termination strategy with the Match Supervisor, review the list of Closure Activities in your mentor handbook. Perhaps one or more of the suggestions would be appropriate to helping you say goodbye. Also, review the Closure Preparation questions to help structure your conversations.