The Chicago Mentoring Collaborative (CMC) supports the development of a K – 16 pipeline of school and community-based mentoring programs that are effective, sustainable, culturally relevant and grass-roots driven to ensure youth are equipped with the skills and opportunities needed to succeed.
Can social distancing AND mentoring coexist? YES!
Relationships still matter. Staying connected is important.
Schools and many mentoring and youth serving organizations are closed due to safety as we navigate during these uncertain times. Disruptions to our daily lives and schedules are difficult for all of us - but even more so for youth. How do we help our youth adjust to extended time out of school, not seeing and connecting with friends, and worrying about grades, graduation and the overall health and safety of their families and themselves? It is a lot to process.
Engage in Active Listening
The purposeful listening to and acknowledgment of what a young person is saying—helps build trust, empathy, and understanding. Concentrate on what the young person is saying and ask reflective questions to clarify, and confirm that you understand. Provide feedback and help brain-storm, when appropriate.
While we know in-person communication is best, tools such as Skype, Zoom and FaceTime are very effective in providing "face-to-face" contact when we can't physically be in the same room together.
Stay on Track
Keep notes of what was discussed and highlight any action items or goals to focus on next time. This allows a match to quickly pick up where they left off and keep momentum going. It also shows the youth that you are paying attention and focused on what is important to them.
When mentoring remotely, mentors need to be intentional and consistent. Stay in regular contact by sending emails, text messages and/or calling. Make sure you establish "rules" about when, how often and how you will connect. It can also be helpful to schedule your contacts so that both you and your mentee, can plan accordingly.
Use Social Media (when appropriate)
Tools like Facebook and Instagram help us stay connected to teens and older youth we mentor. You can learn what’s happening in their lives and have an opportunity to make a comment or send a message to them directly.
Building and maintaining relationships with youth takes time and consistent effort - especially during difficult and uncertain times. But with planning and intentionality, we can help ensure youth get the support they need to grow and thrive.
For more tips, tools and resources for connecting virtually, go to our tools and research page.