I need your help.
Each teacher at my school is assigned what they call a mentor/mentee group. It's generally the same idea as an Advisory, Forum, Seminar, etc. that many schools are doing nowadays. We meet every other week for 30 minutes.
The first meeting was essentially to fill out paperwork. The second and third meetings students completed a survey (which took 10 minutes max) of what they'd like to see mentor/mentee become. Needless to say, my jaded group of seniors could pretty much see exactly what I could: No one (including staff) really knew what it was supposed to be about. I certainly hadn't been briefed on the goals of the program or the purpose behind its inception.
What I did know is that my attendance rate was about 75%, that we were supposed to do more than shoot the breeze, that we don't actually get plans for what we're supposed to be doing each meeting until the night before (or morning of), and that I didn't know diddly about diddly about how things worked at this school.
What to do?
Fed up and frustrated after our third meeting, I asked my vice-principal (who is in charge of the mentor/mentee committee) about the broad goals of mentor/mentee. He answered pretty much the way I expected: (1) to ensure a positive relationship between teachers and students outside the academic environment, and (2) to use as a forum for disseminating information.
Instead of simply going off the reservation and planning my activities, I decided to attend the next planning meeting and share some of my thoughts. I didn't simply want to become that teacher that poo-poo's everything and just goes off and does whatever they want. I wanted to help improve the program.
6:50am. 1st floor conference room. Early. This morning. The meeting went fine, I don't think I did a great job of sharing my views. They were in the middle of going over some of the student survey results, so I didn't want to just totally jump in and sidetrack the meeting.
It became clear that as a school we're still trying to hash out exactly where and how this mentor/mentee program fits. Most of the discussion at the meeting was long term, which wasn't what I expected. I was expecting discussion about planning the next session.
The next step
I decided to send out an email to the committee members sharing my concern over the lack of relationship building activities being provided, and then sent them a link to my school wiki where I brainstormed a list potential ideas (many skimmed off the ideas of others- thanks!). This seemed relatively well received, though it's by no means a fix to the situation.
Where I need help
Many of you may teach in schools that have advisories, forum, seminar, or whatever else. What activities (both in your classroom and school wide) have you done that were successful?
I'm going off the reservation next time around. I'm just hoping to take the rest of the school with me. 😉