Talk on Mentoring IBS ACADEMY

Venue : Conference Hall of IBS Academy, Kanakapura Main Road
Time : 25 August 2010, 2.15 p.m. to 4.45 p.m.
Principal : Ms. Latha
Members present : Faculty of IBS Academy

Dr. Ali Khwaja started the talk with the statement ,If you need to teach Ramu Mathematics, its not enough that you should know Mathematics but you should know Ramu too.

This means that to become a good teacher you should not only know the subject, but you should know your students too. It is also said that if the student cannot learn the way you teach, then you teach the way the student can learn. It is also important that you update the knowledge that you are sharing with your student.

Reason for Mentoring

Dr. Ali later went on to ask the faculty of IBS about the reason for this gathering and why they thought it was important to them to know about Mentoring. The Replies were

  • They wanted to clear their doubts about the topic and to know more about mentoring the present generation.
  • They were willing to be more than just a teacher, they were interested to assisting their students to solve their problems.
  • The faculty wanted to support their students emotionally and to reach out to them and understand them.

The present mentoring system already exists in the College and is one where there is an interaction between the parents and the professors and they keep a track of the activities of the students

mentoring1 Before talking to the student the mentor has to understand that the particular student has completed atleast a minimum duration of 15 years of education, which means he is in a semi molded form. He does not come to the mentor as a raw material. He has made certain decisions and has come to conclusion on certain matters. Students take decisions about taking up a college or a particular course only depending on the scope it can give. It can turn out to be wrong in the long run. A good teacher should make the students understand the gravity of their decision and help them to visualize their future.

Mentoring is an ancient concept, developed about 2000 years ago. This mentor had the name of 'Guru'. The students respected their Guru who was their teacher as well as their Guide. He helped his student to solve problems and taught them to do so with his experiences and knowledge. During the British period the English Education came into existence. The reason for this is that the British knew only English and they wanted people who knew the language to do all the Administrative and clerical work. Since it was difficult to bring people from England to do the job, they decided to teach Indians the language and method of work. Lord Macaulay was given instructions to do so, at the same time he was asked not be over-do it so as to give the Indians the capacity to question the British. And Lord Macaulay did the same and the job was done in such a good manner that till date no student questions his teacher, they only listen to them!

The Mentor is more than a teacher. He should have more knowledge than a teacher and should be ready to update the information. A Mentor should also be open to talk about any matter, and he should also be ready for comments and suggestions from his Mentees. To do this the Mentor should know how to break the ice, and should be able to do it in the right way.

Mentoring Exercise

Dr. Ali (Mentor) with the help of another counsellor Ms. Reema Hanamshet (Mentee) illustrated what a mentoring interaction should not be:
Mentee: Excuse me Sir, May I come in?
Mentor: Ya, come in.
Mentor: What's your name?
Mentee: Reema Sir
Mentor: What is it? Speak louder?
Mentee: Reema Sir
Mentor: From which place are you from?
Mentee: Belgaum Sir
Mentor: Belgaum? Is it the name of the place? Where is the place?
Mentee: Its in North Karnataka Sir
Mentor: O.K. So you did your degree there? Do you have Universities there?
Mentee: Yes Sir
Mentor: Do you have any problems?
Mentee: Yes Sir, actually I just had this problem with a boy. He just got very irritated with me for not knowing the local language.
Mentor: You don't know the local language, that is very stupid. Why can't you understand it? No, that's a very silly reason that you have to get upset.
Mentee: No Sir, I .........
Mentor (raising his voice): No, no those are really silly. Now come on tell me do you have a boy friend?
Mentee: No Sir
Mentor: What? No? You are 21 years and you don't have a boy friend?
Mentee: No Sir
Mentor: OK now tell me what other problems do you have?
Mentee: No Sir. I don't have any problems Sir.
Mentor: What, you don't have any problems now? OK in case you have a problem then come to me
Mentee: OK Sir

Then he explained how a good interaction should be:

Mentee: Excuse me Sir, May I come in?
Mentor: Yes, please come in. Please Sit down
Mentor: So what's your name and where are you from?
Mentee: My name is Reema and I'm from Belgaum
Mentor: Hmm Belgaum. I think its somewhere in North Karnataka?
Mentor: Yes Sir
Mentor: So you have completed your Graduation there and come here for further studies. That's good. How do you feel about Bangalore, have you settled down?
Mentee: I still feel a little left out. Yesterday I had a bad experience with this boy, he was totally annoyed because I did not follow the local language.
Mentor: That's alright. You can always learn the language. Do something that you are interested in, like hobbies, which will keep you happy, it'll also help you make friends. You can always take your time and get adjusted to the Place and food.
Mentee: OK Sir.
Mentor: Then if your have any kind of problems and need to talk, I will always be here to help out.
Mentee: Thank you Sir.

This is how a conversation should be carried on with the Mentee. The Mentee should be comfortable and should be ready to discuss any kind of problems or ideas.

Advantages of being a Mentor

  • The teachers should understand that mentoring is not an additional burden on them. This is mentoringvery important as the mentors should willingly opt for mentoring and should be interested in helping the students. They should also understand that mentoring not only benefits the students but also the teachers.
  • To understand his Mentee, the Mentor should put himself in the Mentee's Shoe. This will help the Mentor understand what the Mentee feels about the situation and view the problem from the student's angle. Through this the Mentor can reach an effective solution to the issues. The Mentor can also benefit from this as he will match his age of the teenager and feel young.
  • The Mentor should develop a relationship with the Mentee. This helps in the growth of the Mentee, which will also be the growth of the Mentor. It will be like watching your child and you will enjoy and cherish his growth and development.
  • The Mentor should always reflect on his plans, this will help him plan his next activities for his Mentee. This can also give him opportunities to reflect on his life and to plan what his next step should be towards his improvement.
  • Mentor and a Mentee always share thoughts and experiences. Through this the Mentor can understand his Mentee, and his way of thinking. The Mentor can also benefit by these discussions as he can know about various ideas and can also discover new thinking. This will help the Mentor to think out of the box.
    By knowing the Mentee, the Mentor can visualize his future or goals. Through this the Mentor can visualize his own future and the methods to fulfill them.

Points to remember

  1. Mentoring is not Lecturing: This should be kept in mind that Mentor does not mean that you lecture to your Mentee. The Mentor should possess the capacity to listen to what the Mentee is trying to tell. It is said that the Mentor should do 10% talking and 90% listing
  2. Understanding & remembering: the Mentor should concentrate when talking to a Mentee and understand his problems. He should take hints from the Mentoring session and should make note of the same. Remembering small points such as the favorite food, or details about his home town etc., can encourage the Mentee to open up to the Mentor.
  3. Feed back to Mentee: A feed back from the Mentor is always expected by his Mentees. The Mentor can mention the number of session held with the Mentee and the results of the same. He should also mention the improvement made by the Mentee. If in case the Mentee has not made any progress the Mentor should also mention this and inform him as to where he can improve and what methods he can use and the benefits from this.
  4. Feed back to the Mentor : the Mentor should always give a feed back to himself. By doing this he can keep a track of the sessions and his Mentee's progress. It will also help the Mentor to find new methods for his improvement.

Limitations limits

Mentor can face various setbacks. After Mentoring sessions the parents may expect their children to do better in their exam or show interest in studies. The most important aspect to be remembered is that by Mentoring the student is made to be at ease with himself, he can understand himself in a better manner and this will help him in the long run.

Q and A session

q_and_AQuestion : Should the Mentee be allowed to come back to the Mentor for advices even after the particular period is completed?
 He can come back. But the Mentor should make it clear to him about the timings and a particular place for the meeting. He should see to it that the Mentee does not take him for granted or intrude his personal hours.

Question: Where does Mentoring end and counselling begin?
Mentoring is more of a teacher, student relationship. A Mentor is also expected to give guidelines to the Mentee, whereas a Counsellor gives advice and takes the help of his own experiences to solve the problems.

Question: Should the Mentee be allowed to choose the Mentor?
No. the Mentee should be given a Mentor, but if he/she does not feel comfortable with the Mentor, then an escape route should be given to the Mentee where in they can opt out from that particular Mentor without giving any reasons.

Question: In the relationship between the Mentor and Mentee, where should the lines be drawn?
It is very important to make it clear to the student that their relationship is only of a Mentor and Mentee. The Mentor can make the Mentee understand that the particular Mentoring session is coming to an end. He can do so by reducing the number of meetings and reducing the length of the conversation. The Mentee should understand that Mentoring program was not to take suggestions from the Mentor or to make him vulnerable, but to give him confidence to make decisions on his own. The Mentor should ask the Mentee to come out with solutions for the problem and prepare him to end the session.

Question: who solves the problems of the Mentor?
The mentor can take the help the a Chief mentor to solve any problem which may arise during the Mentoring sessions. The chief Mentor may also suggest various ideas and means to improve his Mentoring abilities.

Question: Should there be any personality match between the Mentor and the Mentee?
Not necessary. When there is no match there is a scope of both the Mentor and Mentee to learn from each other. The Mentor can also be enlightened about various new thoughts and ideas.

Question: What if a problem arises beyond the capabilities of the Mentor for example suicidal thinking?
Big organizations and institutes can have a tie up with NGOs who can help face these situations. Regular sessions can be held to solve such problems.

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Just mail your counsellor now, sharing your problems, your worries, your anxieties, your fears. Your counsellor will reply to you, and be there for you until you need her to help you cope and get going.

Leading Banjara Academy's online email counselling team of volunteer-counsellors, I realize it is not an easy task reaching out to a person one has never met, never seen, without the added advantage of gestures, eye contact, a gentle reassuring touch, tone of voice and yet providing empathy, positive strokes, making the person feel heard and understood.

With the aid of only written words, it is quite a task building trust, making people open up and share and helping them cope and feel better. So when in many instances they write back saying thank you and that they feel so much better, the feeling one gets is priceless and incomparable - knowing one has done something right, something good!

Hats off to all the volunteeer-counsellors of Banjara Academy who have been carrying on this work silently, anonymously for the last couple of years. Truly commendable! - Ali Khwaja

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