Written by Derrek Studebaker, AmeriCorps Member on the New Schools for Entergy Louisiana Team at Claiborne Elementary School.
January is National Mentoring Month. A mentor is generally considered to be a trusted person who you go to for advice. As near peer mentors, City Year AmeriCorps members are intended to be trusted people for students to go to. We often talk about the mentoring in the ABC’s (attendance, behavior, and course performance), but there is far more to our mentorship than just these three areas. While the ABC’s keep students on track to graduate from high school, we have the goal of developing the whole child on track to succeed in life.
There are many things that we mentor our students about, some of which include:
When is it okay to ask questions?
When is it appropriate to tell a joke?
What situations are alright to keep a secret?
How to make and keep friends.
How to compartmentalize what happens at home and what happens at school.
When/how to offer and accept help.
How to set and follow through with goals.
Taking responsibility for their actions.
How to be a leader.
Having a genuine respect for other people, no matter their age.
Although some things may seem insignificant in relationship to others, our ultimate goal is to create a more complete individual. There are many different things that are important for our students to learn. While we spend most of our time working on math or English with AmeriCorps members, it is important to remember the little life lessons we can insert into other things.
Being a mentor is more than just showing up and talking to people. The first step to becoming a mentor is to build trust. This is not the easiest thing to do all the time. Some ways that I have built trust with my students are playing games with them at recess, helping them in class, and journaling with them. Having varied means of reaching students shows them that you care about them more than in just an academic sense.