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Mentor Engagement Strategies

This article is meant to provide you with strategies for engaging three categories of mentors:

  • Strong relationship with mentee, but weak participation
  • Solid participation, but weak relationship with mentee
  • Does not respond to Program Manager or other iMentor staff communication

Strategies: Strong relationship with mentee, but weak participation

  • Email mentor and remind them of the expectations and the importance of Canvas communication and the content that the Canvas lessons cover.
  • Giving or restating the prompt/expectations for Canvas with a small, personalized twist to catch the mentor's attention. Recommend to mentors that if they do not find the written prompts engaging enough, they should feel free to figure out a way to address the topic in their own personal way.
  • Email template: Dear ______, Happy New Year!  I want to start by thanking your for your dedication to ____.  Based on my conversations with both you and ____ , my observations at events and what I read on Canvas, it is most evident that you and _______ have developed a strong relationship.  This, as you know, is the cornerstone of the iMentor program and I am so grateful for all the effort you have put into this.  My ask for the new year is that you use this strong foundation to guide your conversations with _____ more toward our current curriculum discussions on (insert grade curriculum focus)  This combination of strong pair relationship and curriculum engagement is what will best serve _____.  You and _____ are developing such a strong relationship, which is the harder part, but I want to ensure that _____ is benefiting from the important materials in the curriculum.  Please feel free to give me a call if you want to discuss this more.
  • Prompt mentees in class to request that their mentors respond to the writing prompts in the Canvas cards.
  • Email mentor exciting news, announcements and prompts to write to online (AKA positive pair support).
  • Discuss or ask for feedback about the latest mentor-facing writing prompts during mentor huddles.  Similar to the way we bring mentor voice into class, ask mentors to share any interesting correspondence they wrote or read from their mentees on a recent Canvas card during a huddle.

Strategies: Solid participation, but weak relationship with mentee

  • Push Pair Expeditions. Make specific suggestions (museum that aligns with mentee's interests, college campus tour that mentee is interested in, etc.). Encourage mentor to connect with mentee's friend's mentor so that they can plan a group outing, which will ease the pressure and make the mentee more likely to engage. Email mentors the Pair Expedition Guide from the Learning Center: https://learn.imentor.org/help/pair-expeditions
  • Reframe pair's relationship as business relationship, with objectives, rather than a friendship.
  • Re-introduce relationship-building activities even in 11th and 12th grades during events and in class to foster fun.
  • What about mentees who are resistant about working on strengthening the relationship? Share with these mentors the Learning Center article on Youth Development:  https://learn.imentor.org/help/a-mentors-guide-to-youth-development
  • Purposefully connect stronger, more engaged mentors at huddles with mentors who need to work on developing relationship with mentee, so that strong mentors can share ideas and tips.

Strategies: Mentors who do not respond to Program Manager or other iMentor staff communication

  • Have a direct conversation with the mentor to touch base, find out why mentor isn't communicating, and discuss better ways to check in with each other. The following strategies may be applied to get in touch with mentor to schedule time for this conversation.
  • Cold call the mentor to check-in regarding pair relationship
  • Send very direct emails with deadlines
  • Send email to mentor cohort with names of mentors who have contacted you and thanking them
  • Repeated text reminders; copy and paste the same message every day until they give in
  • Target mentors at events to schedule calls
  • Have students write to mentors in Conversations about reaching out to the Program Manager