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What Makes a Good Mentor?

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  • What Makes a Good Mentor?

    Separate mentors in FLL seems less popular than say FRC, as many coaches are the mentor and all-around adult influence for an FLL Team.

    But for those who have had mentors, what has been the experience? Where did you find them? How often did they interact with the team? Did they have more value early in the season or late crunch time? How do we recruit better in industry and corporate America for folks that would be great mentors and just don't know about the opportunity?

    If you are both coach/mentor - do you really separate the two roles? How do keep mentorship from becoming too much 'teachership' and teaching answers versus base skills and concepts?

    On the other side, how do you protect against or recover from a negative mentor experience?

    A local FRC team blog is spotlighting some of the FRC mentors from around the country.

  • #2
    Re: What Makes a Good Mentor?

    Good topic. For me I have three mentors that help me out. One has been with me for a couple years and has past FLL experience. The other two are brand new. Two of them found me through a volunteer opportunities listing from a local volunteer organization and third was a co-worker of one of the other mentors.

    Maybe what we call a mentor is different that what you are thinking. For the most part they help me with crowd control and asking questions to get the kids thinking. We break up into sub teams during meetings so this way I can drift between groups while my mentors stay with each sub team.They do a lot of asking questions, getting the kids thinking and letting me know if they see any issues (like with GP, sharing, etc) that we need to talk about as a group.

    As far as the teaching part that's mostly me. Sometimes the mentors are learning right along side the kids. For the most part though just the simple crowd control and questioning the kids have been invaluable for us.

    And in 10 years I have to say I have never had a negative mentor experience. Maybe I have just been very lucky but I think they key is setting expectations for your mentors role early on. I make sure to outline what is expected and also not acceptable at the start.
    Coaching the Flamingos since 2004!
    Team #79 - The Blue Cheesy Flamingos


    • #3
      Re: What Makes a Good Mentor?

      I had recruited a retired engineer to help coach the team a couple years ago... he was not a good fit with the team of all girls. He talked above their understanding then just stared at them when they didn't respond (they didn't understand) and he felt the job of a coach was to give the team the "play" and they execute it... nothing I said to him seemed to make a difference... he was always right and I was wrong. So.... I had to get him out of coaching, but the girls still wanted to have him involved. So, he became a mentor. AFTER the girls worked out their robot design and the bulk of their programming, they invited him to come see what they had done and offer his observations that helped them work out any glitches/issues/problems. This worked out much more successfully and less frustrating for all of us!! This year we will also have a youth mentor - she aged off the team and there is no other opportunity for her to progress - I have 5 new members, so she will be helping the learn programming


      • #4
        A good mentor possesses the following qualities: Willingness to share skills, expertise, and knowledge. A good mentor is willing to teach what she/he knows and accept the mentee where they currently are in their professional development. Good mentors can remember what it was like just starting out in the field.