From Our Founder: Happy Mentoring Day!

I never knew there was an International Mentoring Day and that it falls on January 17.  There must be day for each thing under the sun.

How did this mentoring day start? In honor of Muhammad Ali, the world celebrates the power of mentoring and how it contributes to creating a better world.  Muhammad Ali served as a mentor to many throughout his life and that influence continues today.

In a blog about this day, Eli Wolf and Mary Hums wrote, “Mentoring teaches us to lift each other up, creating powerful positive long-lasting relationships along the way. Mentoring reinforces the benefits of enhancing the lives of all people, and can be especially uplifting for individuals who are isolated, excluded or at the margins.”

Abot Tala is an alternative to mainstream school which seeks to give young people more control over their education through the help of mentors and a supportive community. Abot Tala is part of Liberated Learners, a network of self-directed learning centers.

Following are notes from one of the yearly conferences of Liberated Learners:

  • Relationship, building trust, being part of the community is the most important element in supporting teens in what they want to do.
  • Mentoring is the service that parents value most.
  • Freedom comes with great responsibility. Teens aren’t ready to take on that responsibility and need help with it through mentoring
  • Mentoring allows to have quick feedback from members regarding their social relationships and learning at the center (e.g. if someone is making them sad, if they don’t like one of their one-on-one learning sessions, etc.)
  • Being a mentor sometimes means repeating the same thing multiple times over many sessions before a teen considers it.
  • Teens feel valued when asked about the things they do that interests them (e.g. “why did you like that movie?” “what do you like about that game?” etc.)
  • Through mentoring we can help teens to have more agency in their lives.
  • Mentoring indirectly builds trust with the parents and the whole family.
  • For teens who say they will do X number of things and then don’t follow through, it’s a good idea to talk after a month or so during mentoring and say “Hey, so we have this action item here and it’s been four/five weeks and you’ve been saying you were going to do it but perhaps there’s something holding you back? Perhaps there’s something getting in the way. Let’s analyze . . . “
  • Some kids need spontaneity and flexibility, others need structure. The “superpower” of the model is that it allows for both.

At Abot Tala, we asked the teens what they like most about their mentoring sessions and here’s what they sent in. I’m also sharing a post from the International Mentoring Day FB page. 

To all the mentors, thank you for doing what you do, for your effort and dedication to connect and nurture relationships, to support unique individuals in unique ways.

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