Finding consistency in mentoring relationships
How can mentors maintain consistency when winter weather is causing school cancellations and terrible driving conditions?
One of the first things we teach mentors during training is the importance of consistency. Mentoring relationships develop over weekly visits and missing these visits can delay the growth of the relationship. Michigan State University Extension recommends matches meet weekly for at least one hour to allow time and space for the mentoring relationship to grow. So what do you do when bad weather results in missed visits with your mentee?
Winter weather can lead to school and other community closings. This has a direct impact on school-based mentoring programs – if school is cancelled, mentoring is cancelled. Community-based matches are effected by the poor driving conditions as well. Safety needs to come first and if schools and businesses are closing, it is likely too dangerous for mentors to be driving themselves or their mentee anywhere. Ideally, matches would reschedule their visit for later in the week when this happens. Unfortunately, this can be difficult and often isn’t realistic due to other obligations.Despite these many complications, there are some simple things mentors and mentees can do to stay connected through weather or other difficulties. These include:
- Calling your mentee. You can find out what s/he did on their snow day and make sure s/he knows that you will be back to your regular schedule soon.
- Sending a card, email or text. It doesn’t need to be long- just take the time to connect. Find something that will make her/him laugh.
Mentoring matches can also plan ahead for situations when they cannot meet. Find a book that you are both interested in and have your own mini-book club. Even if you can’t get together, you can talk about it on the phone. If your mentee likes to write, buy two journals. You can use them to write each other letters or answer fun questions before exchanging journals at your next visit.
Missed visits will happen; the important thing is to stay connected if possible. Your mentee needs to know s/he is still a priority and when the weather clears up, things will go back to normal.