Monday, September 10, 2012

What do you think?: Consistency and Communication

Scenario- Silvia has been struggling with junior high since she entered 7th grade last year. She needs a little extra help organizing all of the homework from all of her different classes. Not only does she feel busy at school, but her family isn't doing very well, and her parents have been stressed out with work, and concerned about paying the bills on time. Silvia feels overwhelmed and gets distracted during classes worrying about her family. Then she gets upset that she cannot focus in class, or on her homework. It feels like an unbreakable cycle and she doesn't know what to do.
Normally she talks to her Mentor, who she has been seeing since last year, but unfortunately they haven't been meeting as much this school year. They don't have a consistent meeting day during the week, and most of the time they try to schedule a meeting it doesn't work out, either because Silvia is helping out at home or her Mentor is booked, and they don't meet at all. Silvia is starting to feel that her Mentor is too busy to meet with her, or maybe just doesn’t want to be her mentor anymore. Silvia doesn't want to bother her Mentor too much, so she stops calling and texting because she is worried it might stress her Mentor out, and she is a little upset at how her mentor hasn’t been communicating with her. When her Mentor calls now, Silvia avoids the phone calls and tries to focus on helping her family.

Questions for Discussion-
  1. What do you think about this situation? Why are they having so much trouble with communication and consistent meetings?
  2. What do you do when you get stressed out about something in your life? Is it hard to open up to someone about it, especially if they are busy with their own drama? Does it help to talk to someone?
  3. What do you think will happen if Silvia focuses on her family and drops out of school? Will that really help her family? What could she do instead?
  4. Do you think that Silvia's Mentor really stopping caring about her? What could the Mentor do to rebuild Silvia’s trust?
  5. What do you think is the best solution for Silvia and her Mentor? How can they both improve their communication and get back on track? 
How Mentors Can Help-
          **When it comes to building a relationship and trust, with your mentee or anyone, the most important aspects are consistency and communication. It is the mentor’s responsibility to move the relationship forward and do the majority of the communication and reaching out to set up meetings, at least at first until a rhythm is established.
**It is important for Mentors to establish consistency with their Mentees early on in the relationship, and especially during the beginning of the school year. A consistent start is a good start, and usually leads to development of good routines and habits. In the beginning of the school year try to set up a consistent day and time for your weekly meeting, and then add on extra time to hang out outside of school if you want, while keeping that same weekly meeting. You can change or experiment with your meeting place(s) depending on what activity/assignment you're doing that day.
**The hardest part of setting up these meetings is communication with your mentee, so if you run into trouble contact your case manager for information on the teacher or school counselor as they are excellent assets to help with this process.
**However, we know that you have your own lives and responsibilities that can throw your routine off track sometimes. When this happens its important to communicate with your mentee not only that you need to reschedule the meeting, but why, and reinforce that you look forward to meeting them on the rescheduled date. This is so that they don’t feel you are just ditching them or that you no longer want to mentor them. Many of the kids we work with are sensitive to rejection so it’s important to be aware of this. If you cannot meet with them try to stay in touch with a text message or phone call so they know you are still there for them.
          **Show your emotional support by asking about them and their about their family. Share what’s going on in your own life so they feel more comfortable opening up and sharing in return. Talk to them about school and how that is going for them. Maybe it is best to separate school and family time; suggest that they do their assignments with you, after school in the library, or during their supervision period so they can focus on fun and family when they are home. When your Mentee knows you understand both their school life and their home life, then they are more likely to reach out when they need help or need advice about something.

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