Being a mentor
Don't worry if you've never worked with children before. They’re fun, creative, and keen learners. Your job is to guide, and make a positive lasting impression.
Feel comfortable with your own style and level of expertise. Tell them why you’re mentoring with Design Club. Be honest and open about any gaps in your knowledge. Use these notes as a start point. Adapt and build on them, thinking about how to create a great experience.
Things to keep in mind when mentoring
- Show an interest – Show a genuine interest in the work being produced
- Provide positive feedback – Be enthusiastic and offer lots of positive feedback
- Be patient – Some children will need more support than others
- Prompt with questions – Rather than telling what to do, try to guide with a question
- Encourage reflection – Ask a child to explain what they understood about an activity
- Give children space to create – Don’t sit with them the whole time
- Go away and come back – Let children know you’ll be back to check in
- Tune in to the level of guidance needed – This depends on their age and experience
- At the bottom of worksheets is a task summary – Use and build on when guiding
Establishing your learning space
The environment we create can have quite an impact on how groups engage and learn. You might find it useful to consider:
- Room layout – Circles or blocks rather than lines of desks can work well for group learning, enabling a less formal dynamic between you and the students.
- Creating a calm environment – Try to arrive a little early to set up. Calmly welcome the children. You might consider some music to start the session, or when they are doing longer tasks.
- Creative and fun atmosphere – Your mentoring kit should be full of exciting tools for being creative, including pens and stickers.
- Pledges – In week 1 or 2 establish your ‘Pledges’ to focus everyone on how to be (and not be). Use the pledged to students back on track if necessary, primarily by praising where you see it enacted.
- Celebrating progress – Try to leave time for a regular ‘show and tell’, and praise every step where children have made progress. You can remind children of the levels and certificates that they will get at each stage.