Mentoring Handbook/Part II
If you want to be a mentor but there isn't a sign of organization around you to be a mentor in you can begin to build that yourself. What probably isn't a good choice is to do without a formal organization. What happens without an organization? You find some younger children and befriend them. If you earn their respect you can be like a mentor to them but there's no particular need to use the formal term. The advantage of an organization is that it may help to organize (hence the name). An organization with formal rules may earn you more respect from adults and it may help to accomplish things that you wouldn't get done alone or which are too easily postponed until forgotten.
Another advantage of an organization is that it may implement something like an inter-generational contract. If you want to be a mentor but you haven't had one yourself that is too late for you anyway? That depends on the organization, it could have interesting roles to offer for you later on or it may be able to provide you with a mentor later in your education. The experience of having been a mentor is likely to be valuable for you in any case.
Working groups and human cognition
If you respect how human cognition works you may deduce working in groups as a logical consequence. Single individuals are prone to make mistakes because they failed to take something sufficiently into consideration or because something didn't occur to them at all. While this can apply to adults as well it is even more relevant for teenagers, who may lack the experience to arrive at certain conclusions.
A mentoring organization can both give you a valuable social environment and provide you with like minded individuals who can give you advice and new ideas. In a small organization or in a local section of a larger organization you can also observe what the categorical imperative tries to explain in general: The value of the group depends on each member's respect for the group and input into the group. A mentoring organization should respect this concept and show that the members have understood the concept.
Making contact with other organizations
At what age you can form a voluntary association depends on the local jurisdiction in your country. There are alternatives to forming your own voluntary association: You may be allowed and be able to find another organization that acts as your legal representative or you may be allowed to from an unincorporated association.
Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association." 
Additionally article 15 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that "Children have the right to meet together and to join groups and organisations, as long as this does not stop other people from enjoying their rights." 
When you are an independent organization that offers mentoring to pupils of a school it is only polite to make contact with the school and discuss with a representative of the school if and how you can cooperate with the school and what you could do for them and their pupils.
You can tell the local education authorities that you exist. They do not have to take notice but if you are sure you exist as an organization (maybe wait until you are sure) and you think you are noteworthy enough then you could let them know you exist and what role you intend to play in education.
Umbrella groups and other mentoring organizations
To locate umbrella groups you might want to join or other mentoring organizations you can try the Mentoring Portal. You can also leave your own business card there so others can find you. You can, of course, also form your own umbrella groups if you have found other mentoring organizations willing to join the effort.
Parishes and community centers seem a logical choice to contact. They may be inclined to offer rooms and may be willing to provide some help with organizational issues. Offering courses in kess-erziehen in cooperation with a parish also seems like a straightforward choice.
Ideas for mentoring organizations
Parenting driver's license
A parenting driver's license (German: Elternführerschein) is a hypothetical license for parents which would qualify them as parents and educators. In Germany a single school (the Nikolaus-August-Otto-Hauptschule in Berlin-Lichterfelde) has decided to make parent education programs mandatory, which could be seen as a step in that direction.
If it doesn't exist what could a mentoring organization do with it? A mentoring organization could withdraw the parenting driver's license. Parents must assume they have one otherwise they wouldn't be parents. An organization of mentors with a well-founded opinion and the backing of their protégé could tell the parents that they had just lost their parenting driver's license. This could be a friendly and unofficial warning that the mentoring organization had discovered a need for participation in a parent education program or would be willing to offer a course themselves (or both).
The unofficial character and friendly tone would make it clear that mentors were just offering advice but at the same time they could make it clear that they were expecting some sort of reply to the invitation. It may even seem desirable that mentors should be oversensitive here: Being oversensitive could be a good excuse if parents were offended by the "allegations". A good reply would be: "We know we are oversensitive; please see this as a prank on our side and play along."
A first invitation could be presented in person by a mentor. A second invitation, after two or three month, could be a document and be brought to the attention of an advisory teacher or a representative of a cooperating organization willing to take notice. This would document the work of the mentoring organization as a serious effort and it would put parents in a situation were they would probably like to respond to the first invitation.
If parents without parenting driver's license were in short supply mentors could just invite some more parents without any problems who were just willing to play along and see what their children or their mentors or protégés came up with.
A good place to hold a course may be a school willing to offer assistance (or a community center / youth center equipped with lecture rooms). To call something a "parent education course" the course should be supported by a person qualified to hold a parent education program. If this would require funding your organization was unable to get you could still make your own course but you better refrain from calling it a "parent education course". An alternative is to invite parents to an official parent education program (and let them pay themselves) and complement that with a course of your own. To be able to coordinate both courses the course instructor has to consult with you, if he or she is not willing to do so that may be a good reason to find somebody else.
Only in really severe problem cases with very uncooperative parents a mentoring organization should consider consulting with the social assistance office as that step could cause allegations being brought forward from an official side and the mentoring organization would have more or less failed to handle the problem, which could be an exaggeration in a vast majority of all cases.
Obviously this idea only works for (mentoring) organizations.
Can a mentoring organization issue its own parenting driver's license and require from all parents to be in possession of a parenting driver's license? What could a parent committee do to support this demand?
Parents who allow too much
Pupils usually do not complain when their parents allow too much. Mentors who are just a few years older may also have a blind spot here, because it may seem a desirable situation. In the unlikely event that a mentor should perceive parents as too tolerant the first problem may be to get the protégé to see this as a possible problem. For a mentor it probably should be important not to pass the protégé over easily. One way to involve the protégé could be to get her to agree on exaggerated behaviour parents should stop at some point, like playing a video game all day long, and then to test the parents. Parents who had clearly lost their driver's license according to previously agreed upon criteria could then be invited to parent education courses with the backing of the protégé.
Writing a parent education course
For mentors who want to write their own parent education course there is the Parent Education Course Writer's Guide.
Wiki E-mentoring could be an additional service of your mentoring organization. Wiki E-mentoring could match mentors with children and teenagers between age 10 and age 16 and allow the mentors to send between three to seven e-mails per week referring to interesting Wikipedia articles appropriate for the age-group of the audience. The articles could be send with a personalized abstract/introduction in the format of an "Article of the Day" on Wikipedia. This would allow the audience to feel personally addressed and could perpetuate the protégés' interest in Wikipedia and provide an initial motivation for the protégés to form a small community and to communicate with their Internet mentor. The audience could use a wiki, wiki page or web forum to ask questions about the articles or general questions. The rationale is that a young child or teenager cannot be expected to find suitable and interesting articles in Wikipedia him - or herself and to maintain curiosity over a longer time, at least not reliably. The Internet mentor would also be able to explain details of the articles or address any other questions of the protégés. This would be an additional service and would have no relation to the actual mentor - protégé relationship. Within the same organization an Internet mentor could, of course, consult with the assigned mentor of a protégé in his group. An Internet mentor should have a guideline what sources were appropriate (e.g. only Wikipedia or a list of sites).
Advantages of written communication
Written communication is often more well thought-out while verbal communication runs the risk of insufficient planning, because humans can't think fast enough to consider all aspects of what they say while talking. A logical consequence is also that you should always be prepared to take back what you said because it wasn't well thought-out. Communication in e-mails or a wiki should be used as an opportunity to train more well considered communication.
Adult members are generally a good idea, because adult members can help you to be recognized as a serious effort and they can help you to be allowed to do things that may be difficult otherwise. Getting a room for an Events or a mentor conference for instance may be difficult without adults as organizers and supervisors.
College students as members may add to the reputation and usefulness of a mentoring organization. College students could also create a connection to larger tutoring and mentoring programs where college students teach pupils. If you have no college students in your organization but you have pupils intending to attend a college you can also ask if the future college students are willing to stay with your organization for at least their first year(s) in college.
You can recruit qualified parents or other people who may be public spirited enough and adjuvant for your organization. A good way to receive positive attention by adults may be to make a public contribution yourself. This can be any kind of contribution to the public good that makes sense to you in the specific community and society you live in. Some senior citizens may, for instance, be glad to receive assistance and some may be able to provide the assistance and advice of somebody who is of full age.
You can, of course, insist that anybody who acts as an adviser to your mentors or represents your organization to the outside in some way should actually have read some literature on mentoring, including people from social professions one might see as already qualified, e.g. teachers or pastors. You could, for example, require that adult members have to donate a book on mentoring or parent education to your library and have to be able to answer questions about that book. Anybody unwilling to do so would probably not be of much value to your organization anyway.
A mentoring organization can invite parents to advise the organization in the form of a parent committee, which could also accept non-members. A parent committee can help the mentors to find appropriate positions or acceptable positions in matters where the acceptance by parents may be critical. The relationship of the parent committee to the mentoring organization can be similar to that of a parents' society to a school. Mentors may have to remind their parents to take this seriously and to form an appropriate advisory board and to honor the democratic rules of the mentoring organization; parents may otherwise be inclined to fall back into a parent role when dealing with teenagers.
A mentoring organization can also mentor adults and that may not even require adult members. Adults, however, may not like to be lectured by a teenager so the activity may require some diplomacy. A group of mentors could call themselves "community organizers" and make it their self-imposed task to invite people to participate in societal life. Pensioners may, for instance, benefit from a bit of encouragement to take an interest in different aspects of societal life that may not have received much attention during their working lives. A mentoring organization can help pensioners to search for opportunities to participate by making contact with other organizations and by offering advice (the term mentoring may seem exaggerated here, an exaggerated offer can make people refuse the offer). An obvious opportunity is for a senior to join the mentoring organization but associations in the neighborhood may provide plenty of other opportunities to increase participation in societal life. A mentoring organization that decided to actively address people in larger numbers should have adult advisors, who can help to organize the effort. One could, for example, create a questionnaire that aimed to assess the needs of the interviewees and arrange appointments with people who had been recommended. Every interviewee could be asked to recommend other people who could be visited. The visiting community organizers could bring information material about local associations and organizations and could present their service a bit as advertisement for local associations. The same type of service would be useful for families (who might appreciate the mentoring effort as it is) and new arrivals in the neighborhood.
A mentoring organization could also decide to print a magazine suitable for an adult audience and not primarily for teenagers and parents. Some adults may prefer a local magazine with the goal to enhance community and local mentoring efforts over a direct offer like a community organizer.
Entertainment for seniors
A Wii console can also offer good entertainment for seniors and motivate some healthy exercise. At the same time seniors are much less likely to own or merely know this kind of entertainment at all. A mentoring organization could decide to put up a notice in an old people's home and to visit the residents in a lounge with TV for a tournament in Wii Sports or similar entertainment. When you are playing Wii Sports with a different social group you aren't "Bowling Alone" but the game itself should only be the beginning or the catalyzer of social interaction. It is probably okay to sell a few copies of a community magazine on the occasion or just to leave a copy in the lounge.
A mentor conference could be an irregular event organized by cooperating mentoring organizations. A mentor conference would allow mentors to meet, to exchange ideas, to present recent projects or to organize future projects. A meeting might not seem necessary if mentors had access to a school wiki or another wiki but meeting in person would allow a different quality of socializing and community, which is something mentors should have learned to appreciate, either for themselves or as a service to others.
A mentor conference is also an opportunity to involve parents in the organization and planning of a mentoring organization otherwise primarily run by teenagers. Teenagers could take the view that their mentoring program was a best effort but informal and might sometimes benefit from adult advice. A mentor conference would be an opportunity to present the organization and its program(s) and to invite adults to join an advisory committee. A mentor conference is well-suited because it may give a mentoring organization a formal background where it can present itself and, by organizing the event, prove that its members are capable to organize. Volunteers may be more likely to support an organization recognized as a serious effort.
Coopetition is likely to be beneficial for mentoring organizations. To promote coopetition mentoring organizations could aim to service more than one school and to help each other to find or to create more than one mentoring organization for each school. Coopetition can, for instance, mean joint preparation of mentoring conferences but competition for the better presentation or the more interesting projects or workshops.
A printed magazine can have several beneficial effects. The members of the mentoring organization are motivated to cooperate to document their work and to publish new ideas. Publishing a magazine requires (and thereby can cause) a certain continuity in the work of a mentoring organization. A mentoring organization could try to fund the magazine through advertisements. An online magazine can complement the printed magazine but probably shouldn't replace the printed magazine because a printed magazine can cause a more serious effort, e.g. through a print deadline and space limitations or space that needs to be filled. Like a mentor conference a well-made printed magazine can add to the reputation of a mentoring organization.
Social bridging means a mentoring organization could help to connect people who may otherwise be unlikely to leave their own social environment and communicate with the other person in more than a superficial way. This could include adult education and especially, of course, parent education.
A mentoring organization with sources of income should have a planned budget. Money that isn't required for the budget should at least be considered for donation. A mentoring organization might want to put aside money for expensive purchases occasionally but otherwise making money is not a commendable goal for a mentoring organization. Money allocated for donation can, for instance, be spend for good gifts or OLPC laptops, depending on the votes of the organization members. Donations require a vote because the organization as a whole bears the responsibility of making good use of economic resources allocated for general welfare. Another rationale is the beneficial psychological effect for the decision makers to make a responsible and beneficial decision in common public interest, which is why the decision making process shouldn't be restricted to (e.g.) a donations committee.
Shouldn't a mentoring organization establish its own football factory?
Preschool, Kindergarten, Child care
A mentoring organization can associate with one or several preschools, day-care centers and youth centers and offer to help them when possible. A mentoring organization could, for instance, help to organize kindergarten internships.
A mentoring organization could decide to demand a kindergarten internship as a precondition to be accepted as a mentor.
Code of conduct
A mentoring organization could phrase a code of conduct for its members. Since the active mentors of a mentoring organization can be expected to be a very dynamic group it would make sense to hold one meeting per year where the code of conduct and possibly other guidelines of the organization were reviewed and amended to reflect the opinions of the active members. This would also provide an opportunity to exercise democratic skills.
A sensible code of conduct could, for instance, state that a mentor should teach, or arrange for the protégé to learn, first what the protégé wanted to learn, second what the protégé needed to learn, third what the protégé was expected to learn and last what the mentor wanted to teach. Putting the last point on the list is rather a warning to avoid that than an invitation to address the other issues quickly to get to the more interesting bit.
Unlike a code of conduct a tradition would be something that is an obligation to members of the organization because it is expected, not because it is a moral obligation. A mentoring organization could, for instance, decide on an organizational tradition that a mentor was expected to give a well considered book as a present to his protégés on their birthdays. The restriction to a book would be adequate for a learning community.
Responsible assignments should be given to committees, not to individuals; doesn't that make mentoring a team effort? A mentoring team can have different modes for cooperation but in any case the protégé should get to know all of the mentors in a team. It is not useful if a mentor is seen solely as a proxy and never gets to know the protégé properly. One could, of course, decide that each mentor in a team is the primary mentor of one protégé and additional mentor to the protégés of his colleagues. In that case it is probably interesting to define the difference between the responsibilities of the primary mentor and the additional mentors.
Is a mentor responsible for protégés from other teams? Is there a limit to the size of a team? Do you need teams at all, shouldn't one or two additional mentors join a mentor - protégé pair where their contribution seemed most valuable, without expecting that to be true in the inverse case?
A team of mentors can help to evaluate the work of a primary mentor. If the additional mentors in a team of mentors are not convinced that the primary mentor is capable to be a good mentor or is neglecting his duties then the additional mentors have the duty to bring the issue to the attention of a discontinuation committee or another board of the organisation with the authority to recommend (or cause) the end of the formal assignment.
Ending a formal assignment means that the organization declares, according to its policies, that the assignment is discontinued, whether the mentor continues as a natural mentor and what type of relationship mentor and protégé should have afterwards is their personal decision, of course. The organization should assign a new formal mentor if the protégé appears to require a mentor or requests a mentor.
Mentors can help to organize private tutors for their protégés. A group of three to five protégés who meet with a private tutor occasionally can benefit from the more thorough attention of the teacher in the small group. The more private atmosphere can help to train self management skills that may become useful during homework without a tutor, consequently a private tutor can also be useful for pupils who do not have any knowledge gaps. A learning group should be homogeneous in its educational background.
An anti-pattern is a commonly reinvented bad solution to a problem, or just a common type of problem (in a wider sense).
What precautions can mentoring organizations take to prevent anti-patterns?
Mentor from Mars
For a mentoring organization without a sufficiently established formal procedure and qualified pedagogues or psychologists a guided mentorship should probably be seen as something to avoid (an anti-pattern). If in doubt a teenager should probably not be allowed to act as a mentor for the organization. Especially an organization primarily run by teenagers might want to maintain a good reputation and not assign mentors with arguable qualification. Anybody unqualified as a mentor could, of course, be seen as a potential protégé; what better qualification could a serious mentoring organization generally aim for than to qualify its protégés as future mentors? One could ask protégés to accept the goal to qualify as a mentor without any obligation to become a mentor.
"Rivaling mentors" describes cooperation between different mentors (possibly from different mentoring organizations) that reduces or negates the beneficial effects of mentoring.
- Mentors can fail to cooperate and, without knowing, work against each other's goals (possibly due to different views of the same situation).
- Mentors can fail to cooperate appropriately, which may lead to conflict of interests between mentors and can bring the protégé to adopt a negative view of the mentors or mentoring in general.
- Mentors can silently delegate responsibility to other mentors, who may do the same. The end result is that no single mentor accepts sufficient responsibility for the protégé.
- Any combination of the above.
Rules of the organization
An organization requires a set of rules. Unlike a code of conduct the rules (or policies) may also determine what the organization can do or must do, not just what an individual can do or must do. The rules should be determined by the members but to allow the members to invent sensible rules some questions may be helpful:
- Who determines rules? (Which group? How many people are required? How and when is the speaker of the group determined? Where and when must the group meet?)
- How must rules be communicated, written down or published in order to be operative?
- How are mentoring assignments made? Is there one committee or are there several committees? Who determines the members?
- Who can end an assignment and under which conditions? Is there one committee or are there several committees? Who determines the members?
- Who is the treasurer and what are his obligations? (e.g. documentation of income and expenses - how and when?)
- What are necessary criteria for a protégé?
- What are necessary criteria for a mentor? Are there different types of mentors? Who can disqualify a mentor and how?
- What are the official goals of the organization?
If you want to write rules you should understand the difference between representative democracy and direct democracy. Adults are generally helpful to learn more about democracy and to gather ideas for your policy framework.
- Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Children's Rights and Responsibilities leaflet)