To mentor or not to mentor, thats is the question

My team advisers have ask me to mentor the team next year. I feel that if I come back next year that I can help improve the team image/organization. But the down side of it,is that everyone will not respect me for trying to help out the team. WHAT DOES THE FIRST COMMUNITY THINK I SHOULD DO.

I want to do it next year to help and improve the team

Also I am looking to come twice a week and with them to regionals to help out, next year

My team advisers have ask me to mentor the team next year. I feel that if I come back next year that I can help improve the team image/organization. But the down side of it,is that everyone will not respect me for trying to help out the team. WHAT DOES THE FIRST COMMUNITY THINK I SHOULD DO.

How will they not respect you for helping change there lives?

I think that you should mentor if you have the ability to. Its a way to stay involved with FIRST and have a positive influence on students.[/quote]

My team advisers have ask me to mentor the team next year. I feel that if I come back next year that I can help improve the team image/organization. But the down side of it,is that everyone will not respect me for trying to help out the team. WHAT DOES THE FIRST COMMUNITY THINK I SHOULD DO.

Respect is earned. If you’re patient and have good ideas people will listen. The transition from student to mentor isn’t clear cut anyway. Two years of mentoring and there is still some gray area, because I still have friends who are students. I still need to work on my delegating skills, as my job as a mentor is not to do things, but to help the students get them done.

For myself, mentoring my high school team has been a wonderful opportunity. I’ve learned at least as much, if not more, as an adult on the team as I did as a student on the team, and I’ve had the opportunity to help create a positive experience for the students as well.

Besides, if they asked they must have confidence that you would do well in a mentor position.


Why would they not respect you? Because you are one of their peers?
You’re going to have to earn their respect and there is no other way around it. Mentorship is not only one of the greatest responsibilities you can have in FIRST it is an honor as well. You should welcome the challenge.

You shouldn’t have to decide to mentor on how the kids will like you. Respect will come with the mentor role. My team has mentors the graduated last year or the year before, so even though they are friends I still respect them as mentors. I am graduating this year, and unfortunately am going across country for college, so I am going to hopefully mentor a team by my college. Staying involved with FIRST is important to me, and should be for anyone.

i would mentor too…well i’m going to be doing that next year hopefully…
i’m sure that they have respected you before…even if they haven’t shown…it will be a good challenge and i’m sure that you’ll do great…helping out a team and making it better take time and effort and people that know what is going on and what needs to be done…if you can help the team i really think they’ll respect you more and appreciate what you are doing…

good luck!!

My advisors already were asking if I’d be be on winter vacation next year for any of the build season (unfortunately I’ll be back in classes in NY)… If I was staying here I would 110% be back to mentor my old team.

Respect will come as you show you know what you’re doing and people will listen to you. I’ll be the first to say I consider myself an idiot, and my team reminds me about it, except when it comes to running a machine and when my brain starts working they know I am the man to go to. That’s just something any senior or an adult who acts like a kid is going to face, I say just have fun with it before you get old and people start calling you Mr.__ or Ms._____

I announced to the team early in the season that I would not be able to return next year to mentor because I’m traveling for college, but that I’d stay in FIRST and work with other teams. I say go for it, as a mentor you should be respected by the students and your relation to their age may make them respect you even more because you can relate to them better.

i agree with most of the posts in this thread and believe that you should mentor if you feel that you can give something back to your team.

another question: are you going to college next year? if so you might want to wait till you find out what kind of time your schedule is going to take before you take on the commitment of working with a team. Being a mentor can be alot more time/work then being a student on a team and i have found (through experience) that your college grades drop during the build season and remember that when you are in school, your classes are most important.

I am a sophmore in high school and a second year firster
i currently plan to help out with my team until I die
i believe that the kids on your team will respect you
i respect everyone on my team except for the few people who have done something to lose it

Making the transition from student on the team to mentor is not an easy one. Your fellow mentors need to make the adjustment and your younger peers must also. Many teams require that their college-aged mentors stay away for a year or two until they have made a break from the team and have adjusted to their lives post-high school. Some teams do not allow it at all. RAGE was really fortunate this year - we had five college-aged mentors on the team (who justifiably at one point asked us to refer to them as “adult mentors” like the rest of us); three alumni, one from another area team, and one who was not on the team at all during high school. I’ll admit many of the returning adult mentors had some doubts at the beginning of the season that they would be able to make that adjustment, but in retrospect, their assistance and committment was invaluable to our team this year. I hope it works out for you!

I think the respect will take time. You have to earn it. I think that once all the students that worked with you on the team as a peer as opposed to a mentor graduate, you won’t have as much of a problem.

When I first read the title of this thread, I thought that you would be weighing the benefits of FIRST mentorship and your own goals (one will most definitely impede upon the other). But to consider not mentoring because the students will potentially not respect you is ridiculous, unless of course you are so unsure of your abilities to lead and inspire that the kids will dislike you.

It doesn’t make any sense to me why the students being mentored would not appreciate what you are doing for them. You volunteer your free time and energy to help these kids out, to give them what you had. Unless there is something you’re not telling us, there should be no reason for the team not to respect you.

I plan to mentor the team next year while I’m at college. There will be a drastic change in my relationship to most of the kids on the team. I’m sure that given time, they will respect me just as much as any other adult mentor on the team.

My advice? Mentor the team only if you have the time and energy to do so, don’t contemplate how you would be received by the students. In the end, the students will always learn to respect and appreciate what you did for them.

Being a mentor is hard work; doubly so as a college student. It’s not something to enter into lightly. Make sure that you can spare the time and energy required to do so. You’re making a commitment and you need to be able to keep that commitment. Failing to do so can damage your team. It can also damage your college career if you can’t stay on top of your schoolwork.

Also, make sure you’re doing it for the right reason. If all you want to do is build cool robots, then mentoring is the wrong thing for you. If you want to work with high school students, if you want to give them the same change you had, then mentoring might be right for you. Mentoring for the wrong reason is one of the worst things you can do for a team.

You might want to check out the presentation I gave at the Robotics Conference, it’s CollegeFIRST under the Misc. section of the White Papers.


I have to say I sort of had this dilemma. I was going to mentor my high school team, but then I wondered if the kids would think of me as an adult or as a kid that just can’t leave. I didn’t think they would listen to me at all, or do anything I asked of them. To me, at first, I thought I would just be an extension of the team, basically having the same power as all the other kids on the team.

It was a tough choice, but I did come back. It was hard to balance school and FIRST, incredibly so. But I made time in my schedule to visit my team. This year was a big difference. I actually am going to school part time to help my team more, to be there for them. It was a tough decision, but I’m glad I made it. I love mentoring my team, I love feeling a part of it. Yeah, there are some kids that don’t like me, but then, you can’t expect that all the time.

The kids on my team when I first started this season saw me as a friend. As a chauffeur, but not someone to look up to. The more we worked, the more I taught them from my own experiences, the more they respected me. Sure, we still hang out and do the high school stuff we used to, but they also look to me for advice. If they don’t know how they don’t just ask my advisor, but they ask me too.

Respect comes with time. It comes with diligence and determination. If you treat them like your friends, but with some authority, they will respect that. Give what you have to give, and hope at least one person gets something out of it.

I love being a mentor just to see the little impact I’ve made on my own team. I am proud that my scouting team is pretty much self-standing without me. I like that I don’t have to start the cheers during our matches because someone else is standing up to. I love seeing everyone stand up to applaud awards not because they “have to” but because they want to. To me, that makes being a mentor worth it.

So don’t worry. Just make sure you balance out your own college life without FIRST. It’s a really hard transition. But mentor as soon as you’re able. And, if your team really DOESNT need/want you around, start a new one!

[size=1]**My team advisers have ask me to mentor the team next year. I feel that if I come back next year that I can help improve the team image/organization. But the down side of it,is that everyone will not respect me for trying to help out the team.

What do you mean, they won’t respect you?

Being a young mentor (I’m 26), the only problems I’ve really run into is that the older mentors / volunteers at FIRST events sometimes still treat me like a high school kid, and yet the kids are kind of stand-offish in terms of friendship until they get to know me. It’s a bit of a limboland.[/quote]

That sounds like their problem…not yours…do what you wanna do with your time/energy and $%^& the naysayers…gl

I understand what he means that the students won’t respect him. I was in his position a very short time ago (I’m 20). At my school (Kettering), we spend 11 weeks taking classes, then 11 weeks working at a co-op job, and go year-round. My schedule fell that I am on “work term” during most of the FIRST season (January through the end of March), and since my co-op is GM (my team’s sponsor), I could mentor the team. I had spent 3 years on the team as a student, and obviously, there were still many students that had been students with me. This was what I was most worried about – I figured the new students would respect me and see me as a mentor, but these other students wouldn’t. It ended up the total opposite -> the students I had worked with knew what I could do and respected me even more for it.

I have learned a lot from this change, though (this was my second season as a mentor).
*You’re not necessarily going to have the respect of everybody, even the mentors you worked for and with, without proving to them that you can continue your success, reliability, and responsibility that you had on the team before.

*You may think you know how to mentor, but you’ll quickly find out that you don’t. That really comes with time and experience.

*As a young mentor, you will have to command the respect of the students. They will try to get a lot of things past you, as you’re closer to their age and know them – you’ve got to know BEFOREHAND what you can give into and what you can’t. They’ll quickly learn that you mean what you say. Also on that note, I helped out a rookie team with their Judge’s Packet, which I have a lot of experience in working with. I made a point to dress nicely, have the confidence in my speech that I felt about the material, and make sure I was representing GM and Team 67 in a good way. After I worked with her students, my sister (their team leader) commented that I had really commanded their respect. This is way easier to do with students who don’t know you, but you can start this right away.

If you want to ask me any questions, I’d be glad to help you out…PM or IM me.

Respect is a heck of an issue.

I’m the team leader for a group that was a rookie this year. 3 out of 4 of my seniors were older than me. You want to talk respect issues? Yeah.

There’s this funny thing about high school kids. They’re taught to respect adults, but there’s not too much about respecting their peers. The only way that they’re going to respect you is if you give them a reason to.

Your mentors are asking you to take on this job because they see something in you worth keeping. I don’t know you personally or your mentors so I can’t say quite what that something is, but they obviously think that it’s something good. Show your students why your mentors want to keep you around. Show them that you have talent and you’re willing to share it with them, to teach them, if they want to learn.

That’s the only way that you’re going to get their respect. I would say to try it though. Maybe things won’t go well right from the start, but when they do, nothing will make you happier in this world.

Maybe I’m missing something here. I am a mentor and being respected never entered my mind as a criteria for helping out. Our team is composed of mentors, parents, teachers, and students. All have an equal say, pull their own weight, contribute what they can. I have learned stuff from students less than half my age. I respect them and they respect me. But our team is more of a level learning environment than one where the mentors deserve or command any more respect than anyone else on the team.

That said, there are times, given the necessity of the moment, that a mentor will have to make a judgement call or decision. Yes, some call me “Mr” Hudson, but other than that I feel we are all peers. In fact as I think about, many of our mentors are called by first names by the students.

Is mentor just title they give to the people who are too old to be students any more?