Kick Start Your Mentor Program to Stop Bullying by Paula McCoach, School Counselor
Whining about bullying and how rotten bullies were and poor students that they bullied used to be one of my regular activities. "We have to do something to help these kids" both bullies and their victims," I would whine. But for years, I just talked to these kids and sent them on their way. After I got sick and tired of being sick and tired of talking about this - I did do something! I started a mentor program for these students!
Behavior referrals, grades, social problems, and poor achievement were our starting criteria for being in program. Almost every staff member in building had 2-3 mentees - everyone from administration, teachers, and counselors to educational assistants, cafeteria workers and custodians. Over 150 students were in that mentor program which began in 1998.
Each mentor was given a mentor folder with a permission slip, a brochure about program, a profile sheet, and tips on being a mentor, a pencil and a "Welcome Back to School"card. The profile sheet identified their mentees, homeroom teacher, grade, birthday, and area of concern. Also included in packet was a birthday card and pencil for mentor to give their mentees.
Giving gifts was left of to discretion of mentor. Some mentees came to expect gifts and purpose of mentor relationship was diminished. The kids came to expect them and thought that they were ‘entitled' to getting things from mentor. I had students asking me to be in mentor program because they wanted to get stuff.
We really learned that first year to reinforce that mentor program was about improving behavior and grades to be more successful in school - and we had to keep telling kids that too!
As all of you know, people who work in a school are super busy, and we found that having even just 2 mentees was too much. It was difficult to develop relationship and effect change because mentors were stretched too thin. So in years to come, and we are in our 7th year of mentor program, we have assigned everyone only 1 mentee.