Advice for new Adult Leaders/Mentors?

Showcase Forums Café Tuesday Advice for new Adult Leaders/Mentors?

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  • #4313
    RJ MontanoRJ Montano
    Moderator

    Turnover happens. Taking on a new role can be a scary thing.
    Kerry Stevison shared some great advice in a blog she wrote a while back.
    Today’s Café Tuesday discussion question: What is the best piece of advice you have to share for someone who is new to the Adult Leader/Mentor position?

    • This topic was modified 5 years, 4 months ago by RJ MontanoRJ Montano.
    #4327
    Michelle HallMichelle Hall
    Keymaster

    My piece of advice is to listen to the teens. The teen leaders are vested in making the program work for their peers. The teen participants have their own perspectives about what the experience should be. Listening is the number one skill for leading teens.

    #4343
    Lawrence NorrisLawrence Norris
    Participant

    Teens can get overscheduled really quickly. Be realistic about how much time they actually have.

    #4344
    Michelle HallMichelle Hall
    Keymaster

    Excellent point Lawrence. So many teens are overbooked and struggle to keep up, much less do their best work. Having really good communication up front on the expectations for teen leaders is very important.

    #4345
    Lawrence NorrisLawrence Norris
    Participant

    Who does a security check on the adult volunteers? Is that something important to the network, i.e., for the grant?

    #4346
    Michelle HallMichelle Hall
    Keymaster

    The local organization sponsoring the local cafe is responsible for their people and programming.

    #4347
    RJ MontanoRJ Montano
    Moderator

    Thank you both for your advice. I must admit, this was a loaded question as I am trying to gain confidence for my new endeavor as the Coordinator for Los Alamos.

    Lawrence, what do you tell your teens regarding the time commitment? Our programs run differently, I know, but Michelle has told people 2 meetings/month (one to plan the event and one is the event). How much time do your teens give to your program/month?

    #4348
    Lawrence NorrisLawrence Norris
    Participant

    It’s hard to know how much time they take to plan a program, but the programs themselves are 1.5 hrs.

    #4352
    Natanya CivjanNatanya Civjan
    Participant

    Try to form a meaningful connection with the teen leaders early on. Find those leaders that are exceptionally dedicated and find ways to involve them in organizing the rest of the group, giving chances for them to step up with more responsibility. Make the leaders understand that this is their cafe and that you are a facilitator. At least, this is what Meghan of Taos recommended to me and proved very good advice last year :)

    #4359
    Lawrence NorrisLawrence Norris
    Participant

    If teachers offer extra credit for attending a TSC event does that make it lose the ‘free choice’ aspect of out-of-school-time learning? Should that be something we as a community of practice should discourage teachers from doing?

    #4360
    Michelle HallMichelle Hall
    Keymaster

    Extra credit in itself does not remove the element of free choice. We have some teachers who give a limited amount of extra credit to teens that participate in any STEM activity outside of school. All teens have a choice of what to participate in or to not participate at all.

    An element of choice is lost when teachers require the teens to write up a summary or do something else to demonstrate they were at the program and actively participating.

    #4361
    Lawrence NorrisLawrence Norris
    Participant

    Extra credit is quite an inducement to participate, especially for students that might be struggling or are between grades. I could see it being downright coercive. In my cases, many students have other things going on OST, including jobs and significant sibling-care responsibilities. So it is prejudicial against them to grant grade credit for TSCN participation when they cannot participate.

    If an OST activity has an impact on a grade, then the OST activity has to have a mapping onto a standard, especially if the teacher is using standards-based grading.

    And if extra credit is available for an OST activity then every student should have that opportunity afforded to them, and that should be disclosed to the entire class/school and parents. Obviously that means administrative buy-in.

    High school principals and youth development stakeholders emphasize that while OST activities may be “credit bearing” they should not be considered “credit recovery,” or offer credit to make up for failed fundamental classes. And if we ISE professionals are to be factors in what grades students get, what does that mean for our certification and validation of activities vis a vis curriculum/content, and responsibility for accountability and assessment.

    So we should think very carefully about this topic.

    #4362
    Michelle HallMichelle Hall
    Keymaster

    Teachers are generally aware that not all students can participate in specific out of school activities and thus they give them many choices or they give them no extra credit. But, whether or not teachers give extra credit for attending a cafe is really not in our control. It is a teacher’s decision.

    I strongly discourage it except in the case of enticing the students to check out the program once. If they like it, they will come back. If not, they won’t likely come back unless the extra credit is extremely attractive.

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