Teaching comes easy to me. I like the chance to share what I’ve learnt and it started with my family. Being the son in a migrant family going to school was a window for my mother to see the new country. I shared idioms, stories, poems and especially science with my mother throughout my primary and secondary schooling. By the time I went to Uni I found mum wouldn’t ask about blue sky or rainbows or what I studying this week because I just wouldn’t stop!
However, mentoring isn’t necessarily teaching or talking its often more about listening. My first experiences in mentoring come as a mentee, more commonly known as being a child. In the presence of older kids and adults I would often be spellbound by what older people could do and I listened and listened and tried to remember what I was being told. What I remember the most was the love that I felt when someone took an interest in me and wanted to help me understand the world around me.
I was formally introduced to the programs of mentoring in a non-profit organisation called Toastmasters. My first mentor, Jim Phetterplace is a superb speaker, intelligent and always a caring listener. After a year or so in the organisation I felt it was time to give back so I began as mentor and have since been refining my methods of listening, guiding and caring for my mentees in areas of leadership and communication.
Even while I have mentees I still take up the opportunity to having mentors when ever I can. I believe the best teachers are those that still are students.
As mentor I’ve developed a certain style in my approach.
- I care for my mentee, want the best for their welfare and respectful of their values and experiences.
- I understand that they are not wanting to be my clones but wish to see what I see.
- mentoring is an exercise in SMART goals, where we often review our progress.
- I prefer to be asked to be a mentor and not assigned as one.
- I use questions to stimulate discussion and enjoy the shared learning experience.
- I don’t always know the answers to the questions I pose.
Well, that’s basically how I got started. Interested to hear your experiences as either mentor or mentee….