Conversations is designed to be a flexible space for staff and pairs to use as needed. This can be a powerful communication tool for pairs inside and outside of class.
What can pairs write about in Conversations?
- Personal updates: Pairs can share updates about their lives as they see fit. For example, a mentor saw an amazing movie, or a mentee had a great time on vacation.
- Share content: The mentor's role is to personalize the curriculum for the student, so mentors should feel comfortable sharing links, resources, etc. For example, if a mentee is interested in video game design, the mentor might send a url to a college website that offers a major that aligns with those interests. In addition, pairs can use Conversations to share photos, YouTube links, etc., which is a great way to build their relationship.
- Revisit curricular topics: Conversations allows pairs to reengage around a curricular topic when relevant. For example, you can encourage pairs to discuss progress on their SMART goal periodically.
- Current events: You can direct pairs to use Conversations to connect after a snowstorm, a school assembly, or follow up from an iMentor event. Conversations can be a great way to help pairs build relationships by communicating about relevant topics.
- Holidays: You may choose to utilize Conversations to align on important dates or holidays. For example, you could direct students to share a New Year's resolution with the mentor at the start of a new year or their favorite family dish after the holidays.
- Event attendance: Conversations can also be used to build excitement for events, explain one's RSVP status after completing the RSVP Task, or to update an RSVP status . For example, "Sorry I can't make it the event next week, but I want to meet at the iMentor office the week after to finish editing your resume with you. When are you available?"
How might I use Conversations in the classroom?
For this school year, the priority for each class is for both the mentor and mentee to complete the Lesson. While we are exploring options for next school year, Conversations will not be formally written into the curriculum this year. To make sure pairs complete the Lesson and that pairs also benefit from the flexible communication Conversations allows, consider the following strategies. (The age of the students, length of class session, and technology considerations should inform the strategy you select.)
- Create an opening or closing ritual: Depending on if your length of class allows, consider carving out a designated time to use Conversations at the beginning (as a Do-Now) or end of each class.
- Students who finish early: In addition to directing students to Lessons, you can always encourage students who finish their Lesson early to send their mentors a message through Conversations.
- As questions arise: Lesson activities might spark a question for a mentee to ask their mentor. For example, updating a college list might remind the mentee to check in on a planned college visit with their mentor. Frequently, the Lessons intentionally curate those updates, but mentees should feel comfortable using Conversations to connect with their mentor as needed.
- Sharing images, links, and other files: Pairs can attach documents to share in real time. Utilize the tool to direct mentees to new colleges, ideas, or activities.
- Sending messages between lessons: For pairs who want to keep the conversation going on days where they don't have an assigned lesson, they can utilize the tool for informal, and unprompted messages.
- Disengaged students: There are times when a student might be resistant to completing their weekly lesson but may be open to sending their mentor a message. Staff should first attempt to activate that student's interest in the lesson. If this fails, consider using Conversations to help the mentee first build a relationship with their mentor. As the connection to their mentor increases, the openness to engage in lessons can increase as well.
How might Conversations be used beyond the classroom?
- Building relationships: The curriculum intentionally builds relationships between pairs. However, the need to continually connect on a personal level varies from pair to pair, especially if a student or mentor is rematched during the program. For example, if a mentee feels their relationship isn't strong with the mentor, you can 1) recommend they send a personal message through Conversations or 2) nudge the mentor to send a message to strengthen their relationship.
- Check in on important projects: Not everything a student needs to complete in the college process will be able to be completed during an iMentor class session. Likewise, some projects (completing the college list, working on the college essay, creating a resume) will span multiple weeks and vary by student. Conversations allows mentors and mentees to keep working towards the important milestones independently.