Mentoring is often described in terms of its intensity: the long arc of interactions, the deep bonds that form, the great investments made on both sides. However, when reflecting on the range of experiences that youth have in out-of-school contexts like those found in Hive Learning Networks, one can point to many instances when adults mentor youth in ways that don’t quite fit the traditional model, but are still valuable in their own right. For example: the video game designer hired to run a 7-week program, who not only provided instruction but also created a temporary conversation space to ‘geek out’ about the latest video games and the game design industry itself. Or the fashion designer invited to speak at a youth event about his journey to owning a small business. Couldn’t such “mentoring moments” be just as valuable or consequential to a youth’s learning trajectory as more sustained mentoring?
This is the question that the Chicago-based Mentoring Working Group—Tené Gray, Director of Professional Development at the Digital Youth Network (DYN), Elsa Rodriguez, program manager at Hive Chicago, and Bernadette Sánchez, associate professor at DePaul University—set out to address. Their Connected Mentor site, which launches tomorrow, represents a synthesis of rich research and practical knowledge around mentoring, including a mentoring framework that was developed specifically for the out-of-school context.
As our own on-the-ground observations here in NYC indicate that many ‘fleeting’ interactions between youth and helpful individuals do provide key forms of support contributing to the ongoing pursuit of interest-driven activities, we find this framework provides a valuable foundation to begin teasing apart and further leveraging these relationships. Furthermore, this issue of common language is something we’ve seen as important for any type of coordinated action and so we applaud this effort to develop a powerful and shared language around the practice of mentoring.
Tene and Elsa were kind enough to chat with us about their work and give us some insight into their Connected Mentor Framework. Continue reading