What is mentoring?
Mentoring is defined as a professional relationship where an experienced and qualified professional (the mentor) assists another (the mentoree) in developing specific skills and knowledge for their academic, professional and personal growth.
What does a mentor do?
• Teaches specific skills
• Facilitates growth by sharing resources
• Challenges the mentoree to move beyond their comfort zone
• Creates a safe learning environment for taking risks
• Focuses on the mentoree’s total development
Mentoring is usually, short-term, semi-structured guidance where a mentor shares her knowledge, skills, and experience to assist others to progress in their own lives, study, and careers. Mentoring is more than ‘offering advice’ – it’s about empowering and motivating others to identify their own issues and problems and helping them to find their own unique ways and inner resources of solving them.
“‘I have mentors in every area of my life, as a comic, a dad, a recovering drug addict, a spiritual being and as a man who believes that we, as individuals and the great globe itself, are works in progress and that through a chain of mentorship we can improve individually and globally, together . . .”
Russell Brand, Mentors: How to Help and be Helped
What is not mentoring?
Mentoring is not counselling or therapy – although the mentor may help the mentee to access more specialised avenues of help if it becomes apparent that this would be the best way forward.
Mentoring for specific skills
• time management and dealing with deadlines
• stress management
• planning techniques and organisational skills
• goal and purpose setting
• setting realistic study goals and expectations
• general wellness
• speed reading
• accelerated learning
• study skills
• passing exams
Specialist Mentors are trained professionals who work alongside the Disability Service. Mentors hold qualifications in mental health and Autism Spectrum Conditions as well as understand the academic context and where barriers to learning may exist. Specialist Mentors are not course subject specialists or counsellors. Although many mentors specialise in mental health, the support they offer is focussed on practical strategies to overcome barriers to study. It is not therapeutic support. They are also not the same as the Student Peer Mentor or Career Mentors. Specialist Mentors help students to understand and overcome barriers to their studies. Mentors support the development of long-term study and wellbeing strategies that enable independent learning.
Specialist Mentoring is tailored to individual needs and may focus on
• Study planning techniques and organisational skills
• General wellbeing strategies
• Managing study related anxiety
• Setting realistic study goals and expectations
• Managing stress around deadlines
• Identifying and accessing other relevant support services
“A problem is a way of creating a future. When plants grow and evolve they do so by way of problems, developing features to avoid predators, to maximise light or to retain moisture.” Claire Colebrook, philosopher and cultural theorist
Specialist Mentoring sessions are
• One-to-one, with the same Mentor
• Usually an hour long
• Arranged at an agreed frequency, e.g. weekly or fortnightly
Accessing and qualifying for Specialist Mentoring sessions
To access Specialist Mentoring, students need to: A) Be registered with the Disability Service, B) Have provided evidence of their condition or impairment, C) Have met with their Disability Adviser and been referred to a Specialist Mentor, D) Once a student has been referred for mentoring, the Specialist Mentor and student arrange sessions directly with one another.
How to benefit from mentoring sessions
In order to get the full benefit from a mentoring session, it is helpful to:
1) Think about what you want help with in advance
2) Arrive punctually and keep your appointments
3) Be prepared to talk about your studies and your current workload priorities
4) Keep in contact with your mentor
5) Let your mentor know if your requirements change, e.g. if you need to change the frequency of sessions
What is the difference between mentoring and specialist mentoring?
Specialist mentoring is for students registered with the Disability Services. Mentoring is available to all, students or anyone interested in personal development as well as academic and professional growth.
I work as a mentor and specialist mentor in Hammersmith, South Kensington and London. Call/text/Whatsapp me on 07737 745 684 or email me if you would like to know more.