A sound and effective school culture is one where mentorship and support prevail. Mentorship in school is required to support and encourage its students and teachers in their personal, academic and professional growth. For young students, mentorship
is vital to help them in the difficult transition from childhood to adolescence, from elementary to middle school to high school. The relationship between young people and mentors is strengthened when they participate in a number of engaging activities together like, social, cultural, and recreational activities, community service projects, tutoring and more. Mentoring provides guidance and support and establishes service as an integral part of the student or teacher life and their school experience.
Support is required for everything that’s part of a school, be it the school’s mission, its teachers, students or the broader community. For the healthy functioning of a school, all the elements that it is made of require support and hence a strong culture of support should always exist. The school administrators have a big and significant role to play in developing a sound culture of mentorship and support in the school. They need to direct changes in the existing school culture so that the focus is on promoting and facilitating mentorship, guidance and support for all the people who are part of the school.
Reforming the school culture with elements of mentorship and support helps it form stronger ties with its communities, build better citizens through responsibility and service, turn potential school dropouts into potential college students, support cross-cultural learning, retain students by providing meaningful involvement, improve student-teacher relations, witness progress in school performance and in academic and social skills, forge stronger ties with colleges, community groups and parents, receive additional student support services and involve other caring adults in the education process.
Administrators need to be focused and directed to facilitate mentorship and provide continuous support within the school. They have to take the lead to instill their school with such cultures. Here are some tips for administrators to build a culture of mentorship and support in their school:
Establish written mentoring policies to ensure that appropriate and effective mentoring practices are part of the academic culture of your unit.
Regard mentoring as more of a networking effort rather than a single individual’s service requirement. Provide a mix of formal as well as informal events to create the most diverse and productive mentoring culture to meet the range of faculty types.
Add mentoring as a reportable activity by publicly rewarding the intellectual contribution and time commitment given by good mentors by creating inventive ways to recognize exceptional mentors in your department.
Periodically review each student’s and faculty’s current mentoring needs. Some students and specially the junior faculty are often reluctant to ask for guidance, or acknowledge that they are not receiving the proper mentoring.
Provide mentor training as it is a crucial aspect for the development of Mentorship. Training builds skills, provides knowledge and brings to light the various issues that mentors will encounter. Mentor training should address adolescent development, communication skills, diversity and cultural sensitivity, crisis management, conflict resolution, tutoring and more.
With the help of resources of campus faculty and local youth organizations, design mentor training programs. These programs should provide proper orientation and training during each academic year.
Provide mentors with constant support and encouragement. Hold discussion and support meetings to enhance service learning by allowing mentors to share and compare experiences and solve problems together.
Educator and Principal PJ Caposey in his new book, ‘Building a Culture of Support: Strategies for School Leaders ’ has explained strategies for school leaders to tune and sharpen their leadership skills that foster highly effective and supportive schools for all. The book is an excellent addition to the 21st century administrator’s library. The four rules offered by Caposey in his book to guide leaders and administrators in building the school culture of support are:
Support the vision, mission and goals by defining and delineating your school’s current culture, aligning vision, mission, and goals, and monitoring the fidelity of school practices to each. You can do this by conducting a self-audit to assess the current school vision, mission, and goals; engaging faculty in creating mission statements; engaging faculty in visioning; developing school improvement plans; taking principal measures to support the vision, mission, and school improvement goals.
Support your school professionals by making expectations clear, having tough conversations, leading professional development, sharing leadership, fostering positive relationships, and engaging in fair but effective evaluations.
Support your school students to build a highly supportive school culture by engaging your school leader as an instructional leader. It also includes transforming instruction, making it more rigorous and making it learner-focused. You should also define the curriculum, monitoring the progress of rigor implementation, making sure policy never overrides practice, work to enhance student engagement, and much more to support students.
Support the community by making the school the center of pride in the community and engaging in effective communication with that community. To foster effective communication with the community, school leaders need to do things like establish rules at the beginning, maintain consistency, and engage community support for the school.
I hope these tips can encourage the school administrators and guide them to build a culture of mentorship and support in their school. Have more tips to add? Suggest through the Comment Box.