Within the past year I have been inundated with opportunities to mentor students, from elementary school students to first- and second-year graduate students. Perhaps one of the more tricky roles this year has been preparing two bright high school seniors for college and scholarship applications through the I AM Mentoring Program. The particular difficulty here is scheduling and communication outside of in-person meetings.
I rarely frequent Facebook but a few days ago I logged on and was happy to see one of my mentees posting about how excited she was to be sending off her first batch of college applications. Hoping I could get a response, I sent her an encouraging message and inquired about meeting availabilities. Within seconds she responds with her availability and her progress. She then writes, “I think Facebook is the best way to contact me.”
Even though I have practically no use for Facebook (except to peruse cute pictures of my three-year-old niece) if it is a venue I can access to efficiently communicate with my mentees, I will certainly utilize it. When I told her I would check-in with her more via Facebook she was relieved. However I encouraged her to continue checking my e-mails, as students will be expected to regularly check e-mails in college as well.
As I engage in more mentoring relationships, I am learning the power of flexibility and adaptation in exploring what works best. I see mentorship now as more of a dance than a checklist of activities and functions. When you make a move, the other person(s) follow suit and that then changes the nature of your next move. It is a constant partnership and the success of it depends on all parties. My two high school mentees this year have persuaded me to be more flexible with how I communicate with them and also be more involved in what they value.