Friday, July 13, 2012

Where do Mentors Learn?

In Chicago there are probably 5,000 adult volunteers serving in organized tutoring and/or mentoring programs as tutors, mentors, and on volunteer board. In the program locator database I show 172 organizations. I'm sure there are additional places where volunteers are connecting with kids, but I don't have that information.

In my own leadership of a tutor/mentor program since 1975 I recognized very early that there was no way I could effectively "teach" 100 or more volunteers everything they needed to know to become effective tutors/mentors. Instead I began to amass a library of reading material and used weekly communications and coaching to try to motivate the volunteers to spend time reading, reflecting and learning.

In theory that's a great idea.
In practice, it's difficult to motivate this type of extra effort on an on-going basis. It's also difficult to track and document how much of this was taking place.

So, my question is where are all of these people learning about the challenges faced by the inner-city kids and families they work with? Where do they go to find ideas they can apply each week in their tutoring/mentoring activities? Who coaches this process?

Or, where are they learning about the challenges organizers of tutor/mentor programs face in finding the resources (money, space, technology, ideas, talent, etc.)needed to enable volunteers to connect with inner-city kids and to keep them connected week-after-week for multiple years?

There are more than 200,000 school age youth living in high poverty areas of Chicago. We need thousand more volunteers in this system. Where are people going for data and ideas that could empower them to help programs grow, and to help the kids in these programs become active learners and CEOs in their own lives?

Where do these volunteers go to get this information?

I hope that some of you who read this article will circulate it in your own networks. If there are on-line forums where volunteers, board members and donors are converging I really don't know where they are.

I do know where there are on-line libraries of information that they could be tapping to learn more about where and why tutor/mentor programs are needed, or what the nonprofit organizers face in trying to make these programs available. You can browse the sections of the Tutor/Mentor Connection library to open your world to a virtual universe of information that is just waiting for readers and learners.

Or you can go to Curt Bonk's World is Open web site and see the list of links to on-line learning and education resources that he has amassed.

If we're not spending time learning how can we get better at what we do to help kids overcome the challenges of big city poverty?

I invite anyone who has ideas on this topic to join in a Facebook or Tutor/Mentor Forum conversation and share what you know. Or, post a link to the online learning you know about so myself and others can connect with you there.

1 comment:

izza said...

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