Google Certified Innovator: Mentor Pairing
It has been a little over 4 weeks now since returning from the Google Innovators Academy in Sydney. Work life has quickly returned to normal, bringing with it the new challenge of maintaining focus and momentum with my project. The importance of setting aside time to reaffirm short and long term goals is extremely important, as is seeking constant feedback from external experts to ensure the project is realistic and has outcomes which will deliver benefits to educators and students.
Developing a strong mentor/mentee relationship is paramount during this development stage, leveraging ideas and advice which will enable the project to grow and mature. In the book ‘The Mentee’s Guide: Making Mentoring Work For You“, Lois Zachary identifies 7 core elements for a successful mentoring relationship:
- Mutually define goals
Reflecting on my time as both a mentor and mentee, it is easy to see how some of these elements can be overlooked or misinterpreted. Take for instance reciprocity, which involves the mutual engagement of both parties in the process. Often as a mentor it can become all to easy to find one’s self dominating the direction of the relationship or alternatively handing over too much responsibility for the relationship to the mentee. I also believe it is important for mentors to explicitly highlight to mentees the perceived benefits for taking part in the mentoring relationship. This can alleviate concerns on behalf of the mentee that it is only themselves who are benefiting from the collaboration.
Another area that I have experienced issues with in the past, is the lack of mutually defined goals. Sometimes as a mentor we may believe that the goals are clear and understood, however a lack of clarity can leave both parties heading in very different directions. In my experience writing down these explicit goals, even to the extent of setting timeframes and deliverable dates, can ensure that both the project and relationship stay on track. These goals, when revisited regularly, also help both parties to determine the ongoing success of the project and respond to changes and issues that may arise. Upon reflection of my time as a mentor for Grade 10 students (working towards their personal projects), I too was guilty of failing to set explicit goals. On occasions I found that when it came to meet a few weeks later, the actual objectives completed were often different to what I believed we had agreed upon. Further discussions showed that there was actually a lack of explicit communication between myself and my mentee, leading to a strained relationship and slower progress.
Now that the roles have changed and I find myself in the position of mentee, I will need to change my way of thinking. I do not need to strive to be the expert in every situation, but instead find myself open to receiving new ideas and ways of thinking. Traditional education has taught us to seek out advice from subject ‘experts’, however in a world where knowledge is open and accessible to all, expertise can come in many shapes and forms. This in itself is the power of an open and collaborative mentoring relationship, as knowledge and ideas can flow freely and benefit not only both partners but the project as a whole.
The Mentees Guide: Making Mentoring Work For You (Lois J. Zachary)
The Mentors Guide: Facilitating Effective Learning Relations (Lois J. Zachary)
Creating A Mentoring Culture: The Organization’s Guide (Lois J. Zachary)