Most staff and students in the Catholic system are eligible to access this program. To find out how contact your school principal, your child's teacher, the Behaviour Education Team at the South Australian Catholic Education Office or Mark.
A good beginning is to peruse Mark's workshop notes below. They should give you a thorough insight into this highly innovative program.
Within our own lives, each of us know someone who has spoken of a significant person (a mentor), whose guidance and encouragement made a difference to them. Their mentor may have been a teacher, an ESO, school counsellor or principal, and in other circumstances, mentoring may have taken place outside school through a friend or relation. Despite many of these mentoring relationships being random and informal in nature, what appears universal is that the mentee felt their mentor believed in them, helped them to develop goals, maintain their motivation and helped them to discover more about themselves. They believe that the clear, realistic goals their mentors held for them reinforced their belief in themselves. As a consequence, their world became more predicable which allowed them to progressively perform more confidently. By depending on their mentor, accepting structures to develop routine and strategies to build relationship and academic skills, many children have been provided with the impetus to find greater success.
In 2003 the South Australian state government committed $6 million for four years to fund a Student Mentoring Program in 45 selected DECS schools for students aged from 12 to 18 years. Currently, there are about 80 teacher mentors supporting more than 700 secondary students. Most schools are allocated funding to release 2 teacher mentors. A teacher mentor's release time is the equivalent of one day per week. The Education Minister described the program as a way to assist students experiencing trouble with subjects, difficulties with organisation and issues of a personal nature. The teacher-mentors work with students to help build their confidence, set goals, strengthen organisation and develop learning plans to improve engagement to learning. It is hoped that this intervention will see an increase in school retention rates in the upper levels of secondary school. As the Minister of Education, Jane Lomax-Smith, stated in a press release, "Early school leaving can lead to a lifetime of unemployment, poverty and unhappiness." (June 2005) Most recently, the DECS mentoring model has expanded into 'the community mentoring program' whereby members of the community are being invited to become mentors to students.
In a few schools there will be a shortage of teachers/ ESOs as mentors. So, an alternative approach may see a mentor work with two or three students, meeting with them individually or, where appropriate, as a group. Working within a small group allows the mentees to benefit from one another's ideas and experience, as well as from those of the mentor. In this situation the mentor acts as a catalyst for sharing personal insights and to create a forum for healthy discussion and learning.
The program is designed as a form of intervention for students who have been identified as facing classic learning, attentional or behavioural problems. These students are often described as 'at risk': they find it hard to engage with schoolwork/ homework, or with their peers, they forget, procrastinate, think they can't find success, lose interest, are inconsistent, worry, display reactive behaviours or may be experiencing difficulties at home. It may be that some fall into a category where their persistent difficulties have attracted formal identification. These may include a range of diagnoses, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Specific Learning Difficulties, Dyslexia, Anxiety Disorder, Auditory Processing Disorder, Language Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and so on. This group of children is a prime focus of this program.
It is not an expectation of the program that mentors will replace the necessary professional input of psychologists, counsellors, psychiatrists and so on. Skilled health professionals will continue to be required in some instances. In these circumstances the role of the mentor is to add stability to the situation by encouraging the health professional link, coordinating professional input, sharing relevant information appropriately with others involved with the student, and to support the input of the health professionals.
A mentor is often described as a guide. Someone who can lead by example and in so doing becomes a role model to their mentee. Ideally, they should be seen by their student as an able, experienced person truly worth engaging with. Mentors can help a young person to find ways to deal with immediate difficulties, to set goals, to achieve a vision or find improved emotional stability. A mentor often helps to stimulate the structure and motivation their mentee requires to make changes to improve their happiness or success. In all mentoring situations it is usual to see the mentee's needs and the mentor's input vary according to the development of their relationship and the sort of school/life circumstances they may be facing.
"Mentoring can be defined as: a significant, long-term, beneficial effect on the life or style of another person, generally as a result of personal one-on-one contact. A mentor is one who offers knowledge, insight, perspective, or wisdom that is especially useful to the other person." (Shea)
Mentoring is "a deliberate pairing of a more skilled or experienced person with a lesser skilled or experienced one, with the agreed-upon goal of having the lesser skilled person grow and develop specific competencies" (Murray)
"Coaching is a subset of mentoring." (Johnson)
An effective mentor in this program would:
|phone:||(08) 8332 0698|
|fax:||(08) 8373 7018|
The importance of training can't be overstated. This is why the program also includes an ongoing professional development program for mentors. A 'cluster meeting' each term, over three terms, will provide opportunities for mentors to develop networks of support. 'Cluster meetings' will also explore:
Sometimes, a teacher/ ESO and a student will independently form a mentoring relationship. It's virtually spontaneous! Alternatively, once colleagues know that a teacher/ ESO is available to mentor they will begin to make advances about students who may benefit from this association.
All sorts of advice can be found on what enables mentoring relationships to work best. Advice ranges from:
One way to help reduce the angst should a mentoring relationship break down is to develop a mentoring agreement right from the start. Using this idea, the mentor and the student draw up an agreement to clarify their roles and expectations. The agreement, while not formally binding, helps to determine the design of the relationship. The agreement usually contains a 'no-blame' closure in the event the relationship doesn't work out.
We want our time together to be enjoyable and worthwhile. The goal is to make improvements in the student's life.
The focus of our mentoring partnership will include:
|Mentee' signature ____________||Mentor's signature ____________|
|Date: ____________||Date: ____________|
(Your school's name) is implementing an 'in-school' Mentoring Program. A teacher/ Educational Support Officer from the school will be matched with your child and their aim is to foster a relationship which will help your child in both classroom and school yard activities.
What is it?
This program aims to encourage young people to develop skills and confidence and to find new pathways to learning and work. With help of a mentor the young person will develop self-esteem, trust and communication skills enabling them to gain direction for their future.
What is involved?
Mentors will work on a one to one basis with your child assisting them to make better informed decisions. They will meet on a weekly basis for between 30-45 minutes at school at a mutually convenient time over the next 12 months.
School Principal's signature ________________________________
Mentor's signature ___________________________________
Please fill in the Permission slip below.
I give permission for _______(Student's name)____________________________________ to be involved in the Mentoring Program. I understand that this will take him/her from the classroom on a weekly basis and that the information shared during this time will be kept confidential. If you have any questions at all about the program the mentor, your child's class teacher or myself would welcome your call.
Parent/Caregiver Signature ____________________________
Next it's time to contact your new student's parents. Face to face contact is best, but because of time constraints, often this first contact is initiated by phone. This first call is crucial, so prepare for it. Your own experience has probably taught you that many parents of children with difficulties or delay live with a heightened state of anxiety about their child's progress and success at school. Once you introduce yourself and explain the program, ask their opinion on ways to best support their child. This should help disarm their worry. Ask: What worries you most? What would you like me to do to help? What has worked best in the past? How can we work on this together? Convey to the parent that you are feeling enthusiastic about this new relationship. Mention that it would be motivating if they could share a little about the mentoring program with their child before you follow up with the student.
Now is a perfect time to offer your school contact phone number and school email address, and assure the parents that you'll regularly update them or contact them when something crops up. To be effective you'll need to keep your student's parents regularly updated. It's up to you to decide how to do this and how often to do it. It's always a good idea to check in with your student's class teacher prior to contacting parents so that you have the most current and accurate information. Ideally, on-going communication should be done within a deliberate framework of steadiness and positiveness.
Occasionally, you will need to explain to a parent that you are not trying to replace their role. Their role as a parent is irreplaceable. Your part is to simply lend support to their child and offer sensible advice and interventions based on your wealth of life and teaching experiences.
Of ultimate benefit is that keeping a log helps you to collect, analyse and crystallise your thoughts. It can become a wonderful planning tool and the basis for writing up a compelling case study at a later date.