A Mentor Is...

This is taken from our team handbook for mentors.
Our handbooks are being revised during the summer and if you all have any ideas to add to this list I’d appreciate hearing them.

A Mentor…

  1. Treats students with respect, treats them as equals, listens quietly to their ideas, helps students experiment even when the mentor already knows the answer (unless it’s dangerous!).
  2. Avoids sarcasm, condescension, or other verbal or non-verbal slights. Student growth is your ultimate goal not the immediate task at hand.
  3. Knows everyone is doing the best they can.
  4. Provides an opportunity to learn directly through experience.
  5. Is supportive, patient, enthusiastic, compassionate, and available.
  6. Looks for that perfect balance - help when necessary, step back when possible, step in to avoid setting anyone up for failure.
  7. Helps students explore their ideas. Perhaps the best training is the memory of their own experiences.
  8. Serves as a role model in more than the professional sense not the least of which is service to others.
  9. Is a compatriot, challenger, guide, consultant, advisor, and cheerleader.
  10. Benefits just as much as the person being mentored. In effective mentoring everyone learns. To get the most enthusiasm out of a mentor, let them focus on what most interests them too.
  11. Is needed for both technical and non-technical disciplines.
  12. Enables student “research” even down avenues expected to be dead-ends.
  13. Gives the student room to explore and “find” themselves and their special interests.
  14. Encourages, doesn’t yell, force, or judge.
  15. Is there for moral support as well as knowledge support.
  16. Shows up often, is there when students need guidance. Isn’t there when students need independence.
  17. Is interested in everyone’s opinion, encourages independent ideas, and is even open to ideas that go against their grain.
  18. Begins as a teacher and evolves into a colleague. Discusses more than lectures. Begins with lectures to new students, ends with colleague discussions.
  19. Measure of success is when the experienced student begins mentoring other students in-turn.
  20. Can be a person of any age, it’s teaching others what you know.
  21. Understands the student’s intent and purpose with a concept or design and provides encouragement, proposes alternatives to realize the intention.
  22. Develop Corporals, Sergeants, Lieutenants, Captains, … and avoid appropriating the student’s tasks and driving students into the role of army privates following orders.
  23. Avoids overburdening students with advice by identifying only one or two major errors or problems at a time.
  24. Mixes positive praise with corrections to give encouragement and positive reinforcement.
  25. Is wary of excessively abstract technical phrasing and terms. Step-down the talk from engineer specialist to pre-engineering student. Step it up as the student gains experience.
  26. Is aware of students hovering around the periphery and purposely drags them into discussions and involves them.
  27. When called upon for conflict resolution is fair to both sides and finds something positive to say about each viewpoint and facilitates a solution.
  28. Emphasizes safety in design as well as use of tools and robot operations.
  29. Keeps students busy and involved with some extra (special) projects in his or her back pocket so we don’t have idle hands.
  30. Maintains focus on the tasks at hand when necessary by providing direction.
  31. Keeps the students hopping. Offers them choices that make them think.
  32. Treats all ideas as valid and explores beyond conventional solutions.
  33. Remembers what’s important – the robot is of secondary concern, the students are primary.
  1. Knows when to push a clingy alumni student forward to persue their future instead of hanging around playing with robots :slight_smile:
  1. A model of positive behavior.
  1. A friend

36a. …but not the type you’d tell about that wild party last night.

36b. …and not the one who threw the wild party last night

36c …and if one did throw a wild party, was discrete enough not to let on about it.

36d … and, upon hearing about such a party (from their son), had the wisdom to pass it through the filter of their own college/high school memories before making any judgmental statements.

^ which circles back to #14

I dunno, that could imply that they should encourage throwing wild parties…
I would change #18 to (changes in bold)
#18 Begins as a teacher and evolves into a colleague. Discusses, never lectures. Begins with explanations for new students, ends with colleague discussions.
And add
#37 Explanations should be two-way.

I know that lecturing often has its place, and this difference is very minor, but it seems to make a big difference. I know from giving lectures to other students on drivetrain design, that it often results in “Get on with it, and to the point” mentalities, which a student is more likely to voice if another student is talking, but will still feel if an adult mentor is talking. A two-way discussion, in my experience, is much better than a one way lecture, at least you can tell if the students are mentally engaged in the teaching.

I was just about to edit in -
self accountability both for the mentor and for the student.
You are right. :slight_smile:
I think we can all remember, no matter our age, that we are always responsible for our own actions and reactions.


Edit - this always makes me think of one of the lines from Danny DeVito’s character in the movie, Renaissance Man: ‘all I know is that the choices you make dictate the life you lead.’

Does that make #37 “Never gets invited to wild parties?”

I wondered why I have no social life…

So maybe we need to provide the corollaries to
8. Serves as a role model in more than the professional sense not the least of which is service to others.
8a. Serves as a Role model for accountability? humbleness? accepted social norms?

or maybe #8 really says it all.

umm… sorry, you can’t blame being a mentor for that. :stuck_out_tongue:

  1. … a little bit insane in order to survive the Build Season, but is sane enough to act normal when around students, school administration, sponsors and parents. :slight_smile:

Good re-statement!
I was uncomfortable with the word “lecture” too. Makes me think I just broke a window or something.

I hate listening to myself talk and do try to turn all presentations into a discussion - usually by making progressively outrageous statements until I get a rise out of someone.

Basically a Father Figure. To me, my mentors are the Father figures. They guide me through each and everything (even if its not robot related), and try to make it as fun as possible.
(Yes Mr. Skene that means calling Bosch, a big metal bar, and Lexan, shinny-‘glowy’-glassy material :stuck_out_tongue: )

to go with this one (I’ve lost track of the numbering)
Models appropriate response when challenged by a student, maintaining a cool demeanor to diffuse and resolve the situation.

and two other ideas…
Has the ability to make hard work and a huge time commitment seem like a lot of fun.
Recognizes that sometimes a student is just minutes away from solving a problem and patiently waits the extra time.

^ the mentor/student handypack - patience, humor, zip ties.

Mother figure too! psh, there are many female mentors, and they are not fathers

I like this one.

And I’m not sure what number we are up to now, but…
A Mentor is… A person you can talk to anything about and trust them to not throw it back in your face in any way shape or form and who will help you as much as they can to deal with the problems and situations in life without forcing their solution or idea of the way things should be resolved or getting too involved as to force your life in a whole new direction.

It’s about inspiring, or guiding and not forcing a person to do what they don’t want to do in their lives.

The discussions I have taken part of through the years is just like… w0w.
You must, as a Mentor, be prepared to hear anything, especially when talking to kids who are HS age and act responsibly about the subject at hand but be able to make someone laugh about a situation if they can afterwards.