Mentoring, Grade Contract Part 2, Through Jan. 30, 1998 : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Jill Katrin, Mentorship Program, Grade contract Part 2, through Jan. 30, 1999

*Please note - The first part of my grade contract Part 1 is the article I wrote for the Daily Journal. It is listed as Volunteers Make a Difference, and it is posted under my name.

What it Means to be a Mentor

Being involved as a mentor in our community was brought up at one of our fall cohort sessions by Karen Rigdon. She gave us a list of training session days to attend prior to getting involved as a mentor. The first session was held on October 6, 1998 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. We discussed the three mentor programs called PIP (Partners in Parenting), The Wrap Around ( kind. to sixth grade), and Strive (bottom third of 12th grade class). We also discussed what it meant to be a mentor. We discussed how a mentor is warm, caring, accepting, a role model, trustworthy, dependable, willing to share, a friend, someone you can lean on, builds confidence, and honest. After this discussion, we broke up into the three program groups.

I went with The Wrap Around group as I enjoy working with elementary age children. Our group had a speaker named Brenda Crowe. She is a child counselor in our community. She talked about Foster Kline and the different developmental stages of children from birth to adulthood. She discussed what the attachment disorder is and suggested we read the book, Dont Touch My Heart by Lynda Gianforte and Christopher H. Waldmann. I have since read and written a paper about this book. We discussed the immaturity in children due to life stresses and the importance of children having bonding relationships.

Session II was held on October 13, 1998 from 5:00 to 7:00p.m. Four local presenters discussed community services. Julie Schumacher of Kootasca talked about the Head Start program, the housing program for homeless people, homes for regrouping skills, the Energy Assistance program, Home Stretch programs at Rainy River Community College, and CROPS (Community Rural Opportunity Program) that provides food assistance to help people expand food dollars.

Deb Shamose of Friends Against Abuse discussed this advocacy program which provides direct services such as support, emergency shelter, education, and intervention. They have twenty-five volunteers and the hotline is available twenty-four hours a day. They are always in need of volunteers.

Kathy LaFrance, a Child Protection Social Worker at Community Services, discussed suspected child abuse, and the proper procedure for reporting it. She talked about how Family Services would provide counseling, etc.

Terry Wood, police investigator of suspected child abuse, also discussed procedures of reporting child abuse. He talked about how Family Services and the police department worked as a team with these referrals. Their goal is to educate, communicate, counsel, and help families.

It was helpful learning about what these various programs do for our community. We received a Koochiching County Resource Directory to assist us with available services in the county.

Session III was held on October 27, 1998. Christy Bubolz, Koochiching County Extension Agent, discussed the roles of being a mentor. We brainstormed words that best characterized what a mentor should be. We also discussed the importance of effective communication skills and how these are the basis of successful relationships. Some important skills for effective communication are giving our undivided attention to whom we are conversing with, paraphrasing, using open-ended questions, body language, talking at same body level, respecting the persons space, and making affirmations. We discussed reflective listening as a way of clarifying problems. It is important to keep the communication open, and listen for the feelings behind the words spoken.

I really enjoyed attending these three sessions, and I felt that I had come out of them with some valuable strategies in how to relate to others.

While waiting to be placed in The Wrap Around mentor program, I began mentoring two students in my class. I began mentoring every Monday after school for one hour. I am also working with the families of these students. I send work/activities for the students to do with their families at home every week. I also visit with them to discuss concerns, progress, home activities, etc. They are very pleased to see their children getting extra help.

I explained my situation to Mary Jean Menzel and she said that I could continure mentoring these students for the rest of the year even though I wasnt affiliated with The Wrap Around program.

We begin our sessions with snack and social interaction. I provide a simple snack of juice boxes, graham crackers, cookies, fruit, etc. We visit about our class day, upcoming events, activities theyre involve in, their families, etc. This social interaction is good for oral communication skills and a sense of belonging as well. I always discuss what we will be doing before we start.

Both of the children I am working with are struggling with reading concepts. They are socially well-adjusted children. They enjoy getting the extra help and I enjoy our time spent together. My goals for these children are: to build their confidence in reading, build comprehension skills, build on reading concepts such as word referents, comparison, inferential questions, main idea and details, classification, and phonetics. Another goal I have is to work with the families in helping their children reinforce what they are learning in the classroom and in our mentoring sessions. I have currently been sending home short reading assignments with comprehension questions to ask their children. I also send home word lists and writing assignments. Writing complete sentences is another area I will be focusing on with these students. The final goal I have for our mentoring sessions is to incorporate the use of the computers to help with Reading concepts and the writing process. These students are already making progress toward these goals.

During our sessions, the children take turns reading a story orally. We discuss what happens throughout the story. We work on the above reading concepts with board work and writing activities. We end ours sessions with time spent on the classroom computers. The students are learning how to use software programs, how to research topics with the internet, and how to edit their writing assignments.

I have had some previous mentoring experiences where I did home bound tutoring with two ill children. I worked with these children for two years. These children were in and out of school due to their illnesses. Many tears were shed due to pain, low motivation, and low self-confidence. Our sessions began with social interaction. We talked about whatever they wanted to talk about. Sometimes they were having family difficulties and they needed to talk about them before we could get to the academics. I did special art projects with them and took them places. I worked with one of students until she no longer needed my help, and the other student began working with someone else when I got a full-time job. I felt bad about ending this relationship, but added work responsibilities along with juggling my family responsibilities impacted my decision. I still keep in touch with these students and their families. Both students are doing well socially and are improving academically.

-- Anonymous, January 28, 1999


Jill, it sounds like the training sessions were very effective and interesting and that too made good use of the materials you learned with your own mentoring.

Good summary, thanks. Terry

-- Anonymous, January 29, 1999

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