Meet with Mentees One-on-One or in Small Groups

Building a strong relationship involves success mentors making time to meet with their mentees one-on-one or in small groups. For the success mentor program, in contrast to traditional mentoring programs, these interactions typically take place on the school site during the school day or as part of afterschool programming.

There is no set time frame for how long a success mentor should meet with his or her mentee. On some days, the interaction might be a brief morning meet and greet during arrival to school, while on other days there may be time and the need for a longer conversation, such as working on goal setting, or talking through an issue the student is facing. The quality of the interaction is more important than the amount of time. Not all of the interactions need to be one-on-one. In New York City, some success mentors met at breakfast, and created art or poetry clubs to keep students engaged throughout the school day.

Tips for Getting Started

  • Consider a “Kick-Off” event, such a pizza party.

  • Encourage mentors to take the time to get to know their mentees and to build rapport with them and their families.

  • Create opportunities for mentors to spend time with the mentees in their classrooms so they can observe their behavior, and understand their academic strengths and challenges.

  • Create a warm and welcoming physical space for mentors to meet with mentees (and their families).

  • Encourage mentors to create before-school activities like a basketball game or homework help to encourage students to arrive on time to school as well as provide an easy place for connection.

What are Check-Ins?

Check-ins are very short, structured conversations that give mentors a way of asking “How are you?” in different ways, and give mentees easy ways to say more than just “I’m fine” or “okay.” Check-ins are a ritual used for starting sessions, and they’re designed to lead the conversation into small discoveries or new insights about one another. Check-ins can also add a bit of shared laughter to stressful times.

The Purpose of Check-Ins

Check-ins are a useful structure to help a mentor:

  • Reconnect with a student after time apart

  • Learn what is on a student’s mind•

  • Talk with a student about personal or school-based concerns and successes

How Mentors Can Use Check-Ins

Check-ins are designed to take approximately 5 minutes and can be used to begin every meeting with a student. However, a mentor can easily extend a check-in well beyond 5 minutes by:

  • Asking additional reflection questions

  • Focusing on a student’s specific concern or success

  • Further developing a conversation that arises naturally from the check-in structure