My mentee’s family has fallen on the wrong side of the “digital divide.’ What resources can I bring to the situation?

 

The Mentor’s Field Guild; Question 67

In low-income urban neighborhoods, 84% of children live in households that do not have access to the Internet. The problem is even worse in low-income rural areas.

This means that unless they can catch up, many children will be blocked from the enormous opportunities to work, learn, and play that are open to children who possess “21st-century literacy skills.”

Help your mentee assess where she stands with respect to Internet use and skill that should be the norm for children her age. Then work with her to build the skills she needs. One good resource is Common Sense Media. See especially Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America (2011, downloadable at commonsensemedia.org).

Whether you are mentoring in a program that takes place in a school or in the community, spend time learning about Internet access at your mentee’s school.

Also, look beyond internet access. While access is the first obstacle to overcome, training and parental involvement are also seen as important boosts to help kids make the most of any access they have.

We believe many mentors, especially those who are skilled in this area or want to learn about it along with their mentees, can also offer a boost. In fact, helping a child begin to get up to speed in this important area is an ideal role for modern mentors.

This is one barrier that need not be insurmountable for children living in disadvantaged circumstances. Seize the day.

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Reprinted with permission from The Mentor’s Field guide: Answers You Need to Help Kids Succeed by Gail Manza and Susan K. Patrick; Questions about the Mentoring Relationship, Question 67. Reprinted with permission from Search Institute®, Copyright © 2012 Search Institute, Minneapolis, MN ; 877-240-7251, ext. 1; http://www.search-institute.org. All rights reserved.

The Joy of Being Wrong

Written by Matthew Brensilver, PhD
October 25, 2016

In an important sense, the mindfulness path is very much about joy. I want to speak about an unusual, but potentially deep source of joy. It has been for me.

When we think about joy, we might think about beautiful sunsets, the loving gaze of a child, chocolate, the epic valleys of Yosemite, or the stillness of the mind. But I want to add one more potential source: the joy of being wrong.

Wait a second… being wrong doesn’t sound particularly appetizing!!! For sure, it’s an acquired taste. But when we let go of the need to be right, much ease and freedom opens to us. Of course, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t tryto get things right, but our deeply aversive response to being wrong has profound consequences.

The compulsion to be right constricts our lives and relationships. When everyone is walking around, assuming themselves to be right, problems are inevitable. The willingness and flexibility to be wrong is at the heart of mindfulness practice.

Wisdom can’t be fully imagined. Freedom can’t be fully imagined. Our confusion never registers as confusion, until, finally, perhaps, it does. From this perspective, mindfulness practice is a progressive letting go of misperception. But the insistence on being right creates a burden on our hearts and the urgency to prove others wrong is the source of incredible suffering in our world.

Here is Kathryn Schulz, who wrote a great book, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error.

“Why is it so fun to be right? As pleasures go, it is, after all, a second-order one at best. Unlike many of life’s other delights – chocolate, surfing, kissing – it does not enjoy any mainline access to our biochemistry. And yet, the thrill of being right is undeniable, universal, and almost entirely undiscriminating.

We can’t enjoy kissing just anyone, but we can relish being right about almost anything. Our indiscriminate enjoyment of being right is matched by an almost equally indiscriminate feeling that we are right…. Most of us go through life assuming that we are basically right, basically all the time, about basically everything. As absurd as it sounds when we stop to think about it, our steady state seems to be one of unconsciously assuming that we are very close to omniscient.

If we relish being right and regard it as our natural state, you can guess how we feel about being wrong. For one thing, we tend to view it as rare and bizarre. For another, it leaves us feeling idiotic and ashamed. Of all the things we are wrong about, this idea of error might well top the list. It is our meta-mistake: we are wrong about what it means to be wrong.

Far from being a sign of intellectual inferiority, the capacity to err is crucial to human cognition. Far from being a moral flaw, it is inextricable from some of our most humane and honorable qualities: empathy, optimism, imagination, and courage.

And far from being a mark of indifference or intolerance, wrongness is a vital part of how we learn and change. Thanks to error, we can revise our understanding of ourselves and amend our ideas about the world. However disorienting, difficult, or humbling our mistakes might be, it is ultimately wrongness, not rightness, that can teach us who we are.”

I love that quote. Maybe it provides a taste of the joy of being wrong. As we develop more equanimity with being wrong, we cast aside the drama of rightness and wrongness, and rest more deeply in what’s actually here, now: this present moment.

May we all delight in learning, growth, the cultivation of wisdom – and the willingness to be wrong entailed by it all.

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Founded in 2007, Mindful Schools trains educators to integrate mindfulness into their work with children. Educators trained by Mindful Schools have impacted over 750,000 students worldwide. You can learn more about their online course offerings, Mindfulness Fundamentals and Mindful Educator Essentials at mindfulschools.org.

 

 

Connected Learning: Inspiring Mentors and Peers

 

 

This film examines the true impact of mentorship and its ability to validate others in an era when all of us can connect and play a part in the life and education of one another.

Guided by six learning principles and three core values, connected learning is the outcome of a six-year research effort supported by the MacArthur Foundation into how learning, education, and schooling could be reimagined for a networked world.

The film asks:
– ‘Might we all have the opportunity to mentor another?’
– ‘How powerful is a single moment of validation to a young imagination?’
– ‘Might your influence travel further than you might imagine?’
– ‘Teacher or not, might you have a part to play in the education of another?’

The interview subject is Brother Mike, YouMedia Coordinator and Lead Mentor for the Digital Youth Network (http://digitalyouthnetwork.org), which is supported by the MacArthur Foundation as part of its Digital Media and Learning initiative (http://macfound.org/programs/learning).

40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents

 

Search Institute has identified the following building blocks of healthy development—known as Developmental Assets—that help young children grow up healthy, caring, and responsible.

This particular list is intended for adolescents (age 12-18). If you’d like to see the lists for other age groups, you can find them on the Developmental Assets Lists page.

For more information on the assets and the research behind them, see the Developmental Assets research page.

EXTERNAL ASSETS
SUPPORT

  1. Family Support| Family life provides high levels of love and support.
  2. Positive Family Communication| Young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parents.
  3. Other Adult Relationships| Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults.
  4. Caring Neighborhood| Young person experiences caring neighbors.
  5. Caring School Climate| School provides a caring, encouraging environment.
  6. Parent Involvement in Schooling| Parent(s) are actively involved in helping the child succeed in school.

EMPOWERMENT

  1. Community Values Youth| Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth.
  2. Youth as Resources| Young people are given useful roles in the community.
  3. Service to Others| Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week.
  4. Safety| Young person feels safe at home, school, and in the neighborhood.

BOUNDARIES AND EXPECTATIONS

  1. Family Boundaries| Family has clear rules and consequences and monitors the young person’s whereabouts.
  2. School Boundaries| School provides clear rules and consequences.
  3. Neighborhood Boundaries| Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people’s behavior.
  4. Adult Role Models| Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.
  5. Positive Peer Influence| Young person’s best friends model responsible behavior.
  6. High Expectations| Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well.

CONSTRUCTIVE USE OF TIME

  1. Creative Activities| Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts.
  2. Youth Programs| Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in community organizations.
  3. Religious Community| Young person spends one hour or more per week in activities in a religious institution.
  4. Time at Home| Young person is out with friends “with nothing special to do” two or fewer nights per week.

INTERNAL ASSETS
COMMITMENT TO LEARNING

  1. Achievement Motivation| Young person is motivated to do well in school.
  2. School Engagement | Young person is actively engaged in learning.
  3. Homework| Young person reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day.
  4. Bonding to School| Young person cares about her or his school.
  5. Reading for Pleasure| Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.

POSITIVE VALUES

  1. Caring | Young Person places high value on helping other people.
  2. Equality and Social Justice| Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.
  3. Integrity| Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs.
  4. Honesty| Young person “tells the truth even when it is not easy.”
  5. Responsibility| Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility.
  6. Restraint| Young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.

SOCIAL COMPETENCIES

  1. Planning and Decision Making| Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices.
  2. Interpersonal Competence| Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills.
  3. Cultural Competence| Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.
  4. Resistance Skills| Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations.
  5. Peaceful Conflict Resolution | Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.

POSITIVE IDENTITY

  1. Personal Power| Young person feels he or she has control over “things that happen to me.”
  2. Self-Esteem| Young person reports having a high self-esteem.
  3. Sense of Purpose| Young person reports that “my life has a purpose.”
  4. Positive View of Personal Future| Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.

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This list is an educational tool. It is not intended to be nor is it appropriate as a scientific measure of the developmental assets of individuals.

Copyright © 1997, 2007 by Search Institute. All rights reserved. This chart may be reproduced for educational, noncommercial use only (with this copyright line). No other use is permitted without prior permission from Search Institute, 615 First Avenue N.E., Suite 125, Minneapolis, MN 55413; 800-888-7828. See Search Institute’s Permissions Guidelines and Request Form. The following are registered trademarks of Search Institute: Search Institute®, Developmental Assets® and Healthy Communities • Healthy Youth®.

 

Will talking about my own life or beliefs help my mentee open up to me? If so, how much should I share?

The Mentor’s Field Guide;  Question 25

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The answer to this question depends on the stage of your mentoring relationship and whether your mentee has expressed an interest in knowing more about you. In general, if you believe sharing certain information about yourself will strengthen the relationship, then it is probably appropriate to do so. Keep in mind, however, that the mentor should be more listener than talker.

Talking about yourself just to get your mentee to open up may have the opposite effect; you are filling the silent spaces so she doesn’t need to try. In general, wait for your mentee to initiate conversations in which you talk about yourself.

If your mentee initiates a conversation about your life or beliefs, a good first response is to ask her why she is interested. Try to see whether the question is simply a way for your mentee to bring up a topic about her own life or beliefs. Remember, you want to keep the relationship focused on your mentee, so continue to encourage her to talk about her perspectives.

Each Mentor must decide how open he or she wants to be in sharing information with a mentee. You have as much of a right to privacy as your mentee, so you should not feel obligated to talk about any personal issues if it is not your style or makes you uncomfortable.

It is also particularly important to avoid sharing details that might unintentionally have a negative influence on your mentee, such as your former drug use or illegal activities. While it may seem at first that sharing such information can be an opening to warn your mentee away from such behaviors, in reality the mentee can walk away with the sense that his mentor did it and is fine, so what can be so bad about it?

The mentee’s family also might not be comfortable with you sharing such information. If asked, try to redirect the conversation back to the mentee by saying, for example, why are you interested in knowing this? Or, what would you think of me if I did, or didn’t?

One thing mentees always enjoy hearing is stories, especially funny stories, about your childhood. They can be a gateway to talking about embarrassments and challenges you faced and how you handled them.

Keep it light and humorous to avoid sounding like you are preaching. At least until you are well into a relationship, stay away from sensitive topics such as your religious or political beliefs. But if you have a mentee in his late teens, he may raise these topics, especially in the context of current events. If your mentee brings up such issues, encourage him to explore what he thinks, and wait for him to ask what you think.

Remember once again, your role is to help the mentee develop critical-thinking skills, which will happen most effectively by exploring his beliefs, not yours.

You also should be aware of and sensitive to the culture, religion, or political views of the mentee’s family if you enter into these discussions. Asking your mentee about his family’s beliefs may also lead him to discuss whether he agrees or disagrees and help him to examine how he feels about any differences that may exist.

 

Reprinted with permission from The Mentor’s Field guide: Answers You Need to Help Kids Succeed by Gail Manza and Susan K. Patrick; Questions about the Mentoring Relationship, Question 25. Reprinted with permission from Search Institute®, Copyright © 2012 Search Institute, Minneapolis, MN ; 877-240-7251, ext. 1; http://www.search-institute.org. All rights reserved.

I need to end my mentoring relationship. Is there a “good way” to do that?

The Mentor’s Field Guide; Question 36

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We hope you are not thinking of ending your relationship in its early stages unless it is absolutely necessary. As we have noted, this can have unintended but none the less harmful consequences for your mentee.

If you are feeling challenged or discouraged, there may be ways to address the issues that make you think you need to terminate the relationship. Your program coordinator can help.

There are many reasons why mentoring relationships end, but in the final analysis, the reason is less important than how the ending is handled.

Like most mentors, you take your relationship seriously and want to conclude it in a way that does not harm your mentee.

Sometimes, because a mentor feels guilty or sad, she puts off telling her program coordinator and/or mentee.

Instead, allow as much time as possible for planning and managing the transition. If you handle the termination well, it can be a learning experience for your mentee.

If it comes as a last minute surprise with little or no explanation, your mentee may well conclude that there is something wrong with him. Further, it may impair his ability to trust adults in the future.

One exception is mentoring a relationship that is set up from the start to be time-limited, with an expectation on both sides that it will stop at a designated point. Examples include a career mentoring program or some school-based programs.

Care still should be taken in these situations, and there will still be feelings of loss. But if it is anticipated, the end of the relationship is less likely to have harmful effects.

Although your mentee will undoubtedly be disappointed, there are ways to help her through the process such that she develops further life skills and does not lose trust in other adults.

Adolescents may have a harder time letting go of mentoring relationships than younger children and the longer you have been together, the stronger the feelings of loss will be. Don’t be offended if your mentee seems angry or acts in ways that show she is rejecting you.

These may be defense mechanisms to help her cope, especially if she has had prior disappointments with important adults or if she has vulnerabilities that the termination triggers. If this happens, tell your mentee what you are observing and encourage her to talk about how she is feeling. Tell her how much you care for her and how disappointed you feel too.

Allow time, if at all possible, for a transition phase to prepare your mentee for the end of the relationship. During this phase you can take the following actions:

 

  • Share your own feelings of loss and disappointment, telling your mentee how important she has been in your life.
  • Encourage your mentee to talk about how she feels, letting her know that all her feelings are normal and okay.
  • Reminisce about the things you have done together and ask your mentee what she liked about and learned from these experiences.
  • Tell your mentee how much you like her and reiterate your belief in her and your confidence in her strengths and capabilities; express positive aspirations for her future.
  • Be concrete in setting a last get-together date, and plan a special last activity together that your mentee chooses.
  • Do a project to help you remember each other, such as creating a photo album or memory book.

 

Reprinted with permission from The Mentor’s Field guide: Answers You Need to Help Kids Succeed by Gail Manza and Susan K. Patrick; Questions about the Mentoring Relationship, Question 36. Reprinted with permission from Search Institute®, Copyright © 2012 Search Institute, Minneapolis, MN ; 877-240-7251, ext. 1; http://www.search-institute.org. All rights reserved.

Release; by Julie Bayer Salzmann

Published on Aug 23, 2016

“Release” is the 2nd in our series of Mindful Shorts, and it focuses on stress and anxiety as experienced by middle school kids. 70% of middle school students today report feeling “stressed out” — an alarming figure, and a sign that something must be done to help kids manage the sense of overwhelm and frustration they experience so that they can blossom into young adults who are equipped to navigate their way through life’s challenges in a positive, productive way. We hope this film in some small way helps not just kids, but everyone who suffers from the toxic effects of stress and anxiety.

A very different approach than its predecessor “Just Breathe” (which focused on Anger in elementary school kids), “Release” was designed to be more visceral/experiential. We wanted to visually communicate the differences between calm and anxious states of mind/body, so that viewers could truly relate to those experiences while simultaneously benefiting from a basic lesson in Mindful Meditation.

Our intention is to continue this series of short films, climbing up through the ages and the corresponding mental/habitual states of mind that commonly arise in each stage of life (i.e. Depression in High School, Trauma in College, Addiction in Mid-Life, Grief in Later Years), with each film probing deeper and deeper into Mindfulness. 

If you share our passion, please share this film. And please also consider donating to the film series, as we cannot continue to make these films without financial support. Please visit our website for more information – wavecrestfilms.com – or email Julie directly at julie@wavecrestfilms.com.

Many thanks for reading and watching, and above all, for your support!