3 Simple Ways to Bring Mentors into the Classroom

When I sat down to talk with Todd Nesloney about mentors in the classroom, he was just coming off an amazing day with students meeting mentors. As a teacher, we often play role of mentor in the classroom…however, it is beneficial to our students and the learning process to bring in outside mentors into our classes.

Yet, it you are like me, you may have thought that this would be too much work (think: scheduling a speaker for assembly) and take too much time. Todd showed me that this is actually simple to do, and many more teachers can get involved.

Here are three simple ways to bring mentors into your classroom:

1. Classroom Champions

Make sure you watch the video interview with Todd below. He explains how he got started with “Classroom Champions” and how much of an impact it has had on his life and his students. Here is what Classroom Champions is all about:

Current research paints a disappointing picture in the lives of school children today: One of struggle, disengagement from school work, lack of preparedness to tackle life’s challenges and unhealthiness. It also tells us of a digital divide between schools and differences between urban and rural educational opportunities.

We believe three key things: Strong role models for children are critical to making a difference in their lives; Life skills like setting goals, perseverance, demonstrating fair play, community involvement and healthy living are important building blocks for a successful future; Supporting teachers in their work is paramount to students achieving their own success.

Visit ClassroomChampions.org to sign-up your class and get involved!

2. Mentors Online (Choose2Matter)

When Angela Maiers started “Choose2Matter” she wanted to give students a voice and let them know that they matter. Since launching this organization Angela has lead the movement to bring today’s innovators face-to-face and online with students. In a Huffington Post article Angela wrote about this type of mentoring:

It’s ironic and sad that youth, with the biggest stake in the future, are so often seen and not heard. Think of all the areas where adults are monopolizing a conversation in which youth have the largest stake.

We should recognize that young people seek purpose and want to impact their surroundings. We should listen to and give them access to the tools they need to design the future they will inherit. Would they imagine a world they are more likely to engage in and commit to? What if we connected youth, our burgeoning innovators, with today’s most successful innovators?

Choose2Matter and the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) are doing exactly that.

If you are a teacher giving students choice, you need to join the Choose2Matter movement…and get mentoring opportunities through their great partner organizations.

3. Mentors From the Community

This is one of my favorite ways to get mentors. Reach out to local community organizations, business groups, and find mentors that will match what you are doing in class. In fact, there are many mentors you can find at local retirement communities. I used to think this could only be done locally until I saw this video that George Couros shared on his blog. Now the term “community” can be used for “online community” as well.

Innovative Teaching Challenge #6: Most of the time innovation is about leading students down a new path. But we don’t always have to be the ones doing the leading. Bringing mentors in the classroom extends the classroom walls and shared experiences. This week think about some ways you can bring mentors into the learning process. If you have some new ways of bringing in mentors please share!

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  • Great post AJ! When researching the Women’s Liberation Movement in the USA in the 60’s – 70’s with a group of senior students ( in Melbourne, Australia) I was fortunate enough to find a documentary maker in LA Jennifer Lee, via twitter, who had just finished making a doco on this very topic. She kindly shared some raw footage via drop box and then skyped with my class and also did an online class with some remote students via Blackboard. My students learnt far more from this interaction than they could have from me relaying information. The only thing I would do differently if I did it again is to get my students to hunt for the expert and make contact, rather than me!

  • JFro_Z says:

    Love this post – concrete ideas that are attainable in the classroom! Really like how they also spread across online opportunities down to making it happen in your own community.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Jerram Froese
    Director of Educational Technology
    Lewisville ISD, TX

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