The definition of mentorship is complex and difficult to understand for most people and even teachers who used classical teaching methods before the pandemics. It is an activity teachers learn about in university, but the reality is that mentorship in online classes is a lot different than practising it in face to face classes. It almost seems an unapproachable concept but teachers are flexible and know how to turn this theoretical concept into practice.
Mentorship is a learnt activity and the development of specific behaviours is the basis of having positive mentoring relationships between the mentors and mentees. Both of them have to work together and define the skills, abilities and knowledge and their expectations and possible outcomes.
The relationships developed between the mentors and mentees involves trust and responsibility on both sides.
Every student needs a mentor to guide him in the school activities or programmes he takes. Teachers have this role among other important roles. They help their students take informed decisions regarding their professional quest, they offer assistance to their students who need guidance and students trust them with the decisions they make because the information they can provide comes from their experience in the field.
Teachers also provide psychological and support which is vital to the students’ personal development. Teachers actively listen and have a positive attitude when dealing with their students’ problems, they respect their opinions and ideas and they are honestly critical telling them about their mistakes and making them understand their capabilities and ways they can achieve their goals. Teachers are also trained to give positive feedbacks, build confidence and provide a fresh perspective to their students who seem lost in making long life term decisions.
Mentoring students in online classes is never easy especially when school life is flipped upside down. Students need to know they are not alone so teachers have to ask questions, share resources, plan their units and provide feedback. They also have to make sure not to overwhelm the students and find the right balance in order to communicate with them. Some students might find online classes more time consuming because they must use unfamiliar methods and materials than they normally have with face to face instructions.
Teachers know how to mentor online learners and that includes providing details for courses, holding group meetings, personalizing students’ learning and helping them become responsible for their own learning. Having an active audience in online classes requires an engagement strategy which leads to a classroom vibrant environment which, in turn, encourages the types of behaviours mentors would like to see.
Motivation is necessary on both sides and it will soon turn into a habit if teachers mentoring their students use the right tools. Teaching strategies lead to successful classrooms where teachers monitor, guide and teach students providing each of them equal opportunities to participate. There are many obstacles to overcome but the new learning experiences are interactive, accessible and the teachers’ focussed approach and their use of the right tools will certainly turn these experiences into effective ones.
Communication with parents in virtual environment is difficult because teachers must not add pression and keep communication channels open. It is hard enough to talk to already busy parents considering some of them turned their homes into schools, some do not possess the technological skills to access devices or are burdened by the loss of their jobs. Students’ families sometimes have social or economic limitations and feel restricted by them so mentoring these students is challenging. Students may feel frustrated or confused and even disappointed and this is where teachers step in and take away their worries and work on a professional relationship with their students. Teachers need to be full time mentors and understand their impact on students’ lives, be aware of their needs and provide personalized learning experiences for their students.
The greatest benefit a mentor can provide for students is a deep knowledge about what their goals are, how motivated they feel to achieve those goals and how to overcome all obstacles and see this as an opportunity to prove themselves that there is nothing they can’t overcome. Learning is a long life goal and developing skills, learning new things, overcoming challenges in our work keeps us active. If teachers and adults generally speaking have a strategy, this is less true for students who are still in the process of development personally and professionally. This is the reason why mentorship is so important and teachers who realize this role are the ones who were once influenced by great mentors in their life.
Each teacher has to make sure that s/he does more than just teach. Good mentors never stop explaining, guiding and helping out when needed. Teachers are ”living resources” students can turn to and they are always open to subjects who might seem inaccessible to most people. This is probably why all of us carry the image of a beloved teacher or more in our hearts and remember them as the people who gave us a hand and stood by our sides in difficult times. Students will always appreciate those people who stood up as great pillars standing by, observing, guiding and teaching them to become individuals of success and this probably the greatest reward a teacher can get from his students.