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  #16   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 07-05-2006, 07:46 AM
Rich Kressly's Avatar
Rich Kressly Rich Kressly is offline
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Re: Generation gaps

Lots of good stuff here already...

I think, fundamentally, dealing with the difficulty in relationships between generations is one of those "REALLY HARD" things FIRST aims for us to work at and overcome. There are no easy solutions in a program that asks you to think and act differently from popular culture on purpose, for a reason.

Respect certainly is a HUGE part of this. I also think learning the personalities, leadership styles, comfort zones, and team roles of others on your team, regardless of age, is crucial.

I too think communication is the key and, as an educator and leader, I do my best to use a "restorative" model that was part of my training in teaching, working with young people, and serving as a conflict resolution facilitator. You can learn a little about "restorative practices" here: http://www.iirp.org .

Here you can learn about the "social discipline window" which is discussed in terms of justice and other systems, but can apply to any situation where there is an organization with leadership and conflict (ie FIRST teams). For me maintaining control (no, this doesn't mean controlling thought or even decisions, but all leaders need some sense of order) and providing support at the same time is the key, especially in the relationships that span generations.
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Unread 07-05-2006, 01:00 PM
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Re: Generation gaps

Hey... I was thinking about this again. I think I know what helps me out. I model my relationship with the students on the releationship I had with my professors in grad school.
- I never call them kids - always students - they are not kids anymore
- Just because I'm a mentor doesn't mean I'm always right
- I figure I can learn as much or more from the students as they can learn from me
- I try to remember that at any given time, I could end up working for one of them

Just a thought I thought I'd put out there...
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Unread 07-05-2006, 01:32 PM
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Arefin Bari Arefin Bari is offline
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Re: Generation gaps

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich Kressly
Respect certainly is a HUGE part of this. I also think learning the personalities, leadership styles, comfort zones, and team roles of others on your team, regardless of age, is crucial.

I too think communication is the key and, as an educator and leader, I do my best to use a "restorative" model that was part of my training in teaching, working with young people, and serving as a conflict resolution facilitator.
Mr. Kressly... I couldn't agree with you more here.

I will use my own team as an example to explain what I think about this topic. Our mentor, Mr. Payne, is a teacher at the high school. I am the other mentor on the team who is 20, and we have students (ages 14-18).

The beautiful thing about our team is we are all friends and we are one family when it comes to keep our team going. Whenever a student has a problem, he/she can talk to us mentors directly without hesitating and I love that part. There have been several times I have seen students talking to mentors about their own problems and gotten good solid advice. I saw students who walked inside the engineering room with a frown, but by the time he/she walked out of the room, there was a smile on his/her face because that student had someone to talk to.

... we respect each other.

Our communication part on the team is great too. Just like every other team, we have tension on our team, but we always talk it out. If there are any problems we solve it right away. Team 1345 is only a new team and we have a long way to go, but I can say proudly that each one of us always walks out from the room or the shop smiling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BurningQuestion
This is why I believe it is completely innapropriate for mentors to be a part of the students social interactions - mentors should not have "buddies" on the team, nor should they be involved in a romantic relationship with a student on the team. If I were to be mentoring a team, I would choose NOT to mentor the team I graduated from. Instead, I would mentor a team where I didn't know any of the students, and I would not be tempted or feel obligated to be a part of the student social network. I would instead choose to be an authority figure so that my mentoring could be effective.
Jaine brings up a very good point and it makes you think. I have thought about this for a while and right about now, I think I want to state my opinion on this, and I will use myself as an example here...

I just turned 20 not even a month ago. Most of the high school students that I am dealing with are in the age range of 16-18. If I am a mentor on the team, does that mean I need to separate myself from the students when they ask me to go bowl with them or play pool or go hang out? I am not sure what you meant by "buddies" Jaine, but if you are saying that a mentor shouldn't date a student, to a certain point you are right. I have been in a relationship with one of the members on the team even before I joined her team. At the same time, it was her team mates and teachers who invited me and welcomed me to their team while she was scared that the relationship would bring the team down. But, the team didn't have any problem with us, that's because we both acted professional when we were with the team. In fact, there has been many events in Broward county where My girlfriend and I have worked together (robotics events) and put up a great show. I can tell without a doubt that there will not be anyone else who will be able to work with me just like she has (reason simply being she understands me well enough).

My opinion is, it's not your relationship status that counts with a member of your team, it's how professional you are when you are at a certain environment.

... I know many other mentors who are involved socially with their students, it only seems wrong if you look at it that way. It's always right if you think you are doing it right and you are satisfied with what you are doing.

With that said, I apologize if there is anyone who doesn't agree with my opinion. But these are just opinions and I am happy with how my life is, I play with the students, build with them, laugh with them, cry with them, dance with them, chase them around, and most of all I respect them for who they are.

Last edited by Arefin Bari : 07-05-2006 at 02:05 PM.
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Unread 07-24-2006, 03:55 PM
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Re: Generation gaps

I feel that the students respect all the adult mentors of our team. While we often tease and joke around with them, if it comes to getting something done, we listen.

As part of the leadership body this year, I did feel that sometimes the adults would talk down to us or push our ideas to the side but that is something that we need to work on between both mentors and students.

To mentors-make sure your students are actively involved in decision process because they like to know whats going on and often have a different, interesting, perspectives. For example, this year we had 4 student leaders part of the main leadership body which was also made up of parents, engineers and teachers.

Students- Remember you mentors have lives outside robotics (even if you do not) and understand that they can't do everything and they're not perfect.
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Unread 07-24-2006, 06:18 PM
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Re: Generation gaps

I'm still not quite getting what I thought I would get for replies here... maybe I should re-phrase my question. I'm not really talking about issues of respect, although that certainly comes into play. I am talking about how different generations approach things differently based on how they grew up.

Here's an example of what I am looking for. If we talk about issues of communication in the context of a teambuilding exercise... I could say that if the team meeting for tonight is cancelled, the older adults on the team would probably appreciate a telephone call. The younger members might appreciate a cellphone call, or a feed to their other electronic devices. If directions are being given out to an event, older adults might like to get them typed and distributed as photocopies; younger students might prefer e-mail or other electronic ways of distribution. Older adults might prefer to have discussions about team issues in person at a team meeting; younger members might prefer an online discussion chat (so they can multitask and do other things at the same time). Older members of the team may feel that their experience and knowledge base means they have the best ideas to approach a problem; younger members may feel entitled to voice their opinions on the matter and expect to be listened to.

So, can you share some examples of how your team approaches these types of generational issues?
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