Mentoring Program

Contact Info

Special Student Services
Office of Student Affairs
Colebank Hall

Phone: 304.367.4215
FAX: 304.367.4406

PAY IT FORWARD MENTORING PROGRAM -

MISSION:
To enhance student retention and academic performance through mentoring.

OBJECTIVES:
The Mentoring Program is designed to help incoming freshmen acclimate successfully to college life and course work. The program is intended to provide the conditions to enhance student retention and a higher academic performance through mentoring. The program is principally intended for students who through their background, whether grades, low income, member of a minority, or other factors of concern, would be determined by our committee to be at risk. There are many factors that can affect a students progress and we plan to consider all elements. Our vision with this program is inclusiveness. If Fairmont State is successful in retaining these students, the impact will be positive on the overall retention of the larger student body. There will also be a benefit from the assessment of innovative intervention efforts that can be extended to other students on campus.

FOCUSING ON LEARNING:
Learning is the fundamental process and the primary purpose of mentoring. One of the reasons that mentoring relationships fail is the the learning process is not tended to and the focus on learning goals is not maintained.

The role of experience is a primary force in un understanding the parallel journeys of the mentor and the mentee and the learning relationship. It is grounded in a web of connection and interrelationship that is explored through the vehicle of personal ecology forces that affect how we learn. The notions of challenge, support and vision along with learning style play a critical role in facilitating the learning process. Tending properly helps to maintain the focus on the mentee's learning goals, yet it is one of the biggest challenges in the mentor's work. When learning is not tended to, the mentoring process is reduced to a transaction, the integrity of the learning is compromised and the relationship is undermined.

Wisdom is not passed from an authoritarian mentor to a supplicant mentee, but is discovered in a learning relationship in which both stand to gain a greater understanding of the process.

FOUNDATION:
In order to lay a solid foundation for building an effective learning relationship, mentors must have a clear understanding of their own personal journey. Mentors who fail to differentiate between self and others in a mentoring relationship run the risk of mentor cloning, that is, projecting their own lived experience onto the mentee. The result is that the mentee ends up front and center on the mentor's stage rather than on his or her own.

There are three steps in the journey observation process. The first step is self-awareness, which is triggered by self reflection; it is fundamental to understanding the mentors proper role in facilitating effective learning relationships.

The second step is to understand the mentee's journey. Mentees bring their own history of experience to a mentoring relationship. Rather than assume what that history and experience is, a mentor who engages the mentee in a discussion of that experience can better avoid the mentor-cloning trap.

The third step is to gain perspective, for mentors to look again at their journey and that of the mentee(s). What mentors learn from observing these separate and distinct paths has direct implications for the learning outcomes.

SUPPORT, CHALLENGE AND VISION:
Effective mentors use a variety of techniques to ensure that the mentee is appropriately challenged and that there is the opportunity to capitalize on different learning strengths.

Support is a prerequisite for enabling mentoring relationships. Support is the activity of holding, providing a safe space where the student can contact his or her need for fundamental trust. Mentors can preempt possible stumbling blocks of learning by identifying when and where they may need to provide support.

Challenge is sometimes referred to as a creative tension that seeks resolution, a stretch opportunity, or a threat. When mentors shortcut the learning cycle by providing answers. they shortchange the process that takes place as mentees seek to discover their own answers by meeting the challenge before them. Feedback is the most powerful tool for assisting learners in meeting challenges. It provides the means for engaging in discussion, setting up dichotomies, constructing hypotheses, and setting high standards.

PARTICIPANTS:
A select group of Fairmont State faculty, staff and students will comprise the program's mentors. These members will need to understand the vision and the mission of the project and be willing to dedicate the time to make the project successful.


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