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TOPIC: First time mentoring

First time mentoring 2 Dec 16 5:58 pm America/Chicago #1

  • Ladon
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MM all,

I will start mentoring my first student through a correspondence course soon and I am a little nervous about the whole thing. The course itself is well written and I have been part of our tradition for a long time. So I know what I'm teaching. I know the woman I will be mentoring a little, but not very well. My two main concerns are:
moving too fast or too slow, not keeping pace with her experience.
Somehow ruining our developing friendship in stead of making it a deeper bond because of this new mentor-pupil relationship.
She is from my town, so we should be able to meet face to face regularly even though it 's theoretically a correspondence course. That's a plus.

Any tips on how to be a good mentor, avoiding mistakes, your own experiences being a mentor or student to consider?

BB,

Ladon
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First time mentoring 5 Dec 16 6:49 am America/Chicago #2

  • zanna
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Greetings Ladon and blessings on your new mentorship! As for going too fast/slow, talk with your student about this up front. Let her know that she can speak up if a topic is review for her and she wants to speed up or slow down if there's something she's not quite grasping. Be wary of wanting to speed up, however. Try to gauge if she really does understand a topic and you can move on or if she is bored or resistant to a topic and just wants to skim through it. Often it's the topics we are resistant to that have th most to teach us. ;)
If you can't handle an hour of leisure time, then eternity is going to be a problem.
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First time mentoring 6 Dec 16 2:59 am America/Chicago #3

  • Otatara
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Greetings Ladon, and congratulations!

The following is based on experiences in my own work, where as part of it, I help train students. The polytechnic is responsible for their learning, but I am responsible for practical teaching and extra theory. I also offer this because I am NOT trained at teaching, I just had to learn as I went along, how to do it.

In general, demonstrate, ask them to repeat what you have done, gently correct as required, and if needed demonstrate again and walk through the steps, until the knowledge is steeping into them. We learn a lot more by what we see and in watching the sequence in which things are done, than simply listening to someone saying how it is done. And tasks are often more complicated than they appear. For example - to make a cup of tea, you fill the kettle with water, plug it in at the wall, get out the mugs, put teabags in each one, switch the kettle on and wait for it to boil, fill the cups to 2cm below the brim, fish the teabags out a minute or two later, put them in the rubbish, and then ask your guests if they like milk and/or sugar. Such a simple set of actions, yet quite a bit to learn, once it is all written down! That reminds me - when I was paying a visit to Friday and Robert on a recent trip to the United States, I realised they were chuckling every time we got back to my unit at the mountain resort. I eventually asked them why, and they said "we are chuckling, because every time we get back here, you put down your bags, and then without a word, you head straight to the stove, and start boiling water!" (US accommodations are not equipped with electric kettles in my experience, they just have coffee perculators.) It's a New Zealand habit I guess, we have such a THING for hot drinks...

1. My students generally help me to help them. I tell them that if I am going too fast, or talking "over their heads", that is, I am covering things they haven't been taught about yet, or worse, telling them things that they already know, they are to tell me so, and I will slow down or change topic accordingly. So let her guide you - you both have responsibilities and obligations, one of yours is to teach her honestly and wisely, and one of hers is to let you know if she is comfortable or not with the topic being discussed, and the level that it is being discussed at.

2. As you have identified, the mentor/student relationship can become a very deep one, particularly the type you are facing, which is based on belief and personal experience, as well as knowledge gained. I have taught for many weeks, and covering all sorts of topics, some of which the polytechnic do not teach, but I think it is important that they are taught, so I add it in to the course material as we go along. I have a certain amount of independence, as it is 1:1 learning during practical time.
As an example, I might decide that a particular piece of legislation is relevant to the situation at hand, inquire of the student if the polytechnic have talked about it, and enlarge on the theme considerably if they have not.

3. Talking about things you enjoy e.g cooking and trying to find a common interest completely unrelated to the study material can help to "break the ice". It helps develop the relationship between teacher and student and they see you more as a person, than as just someone who turns up, teaches, and then goes home. It also, in my experience, helps develop respect and trust.

4. Mistakes are inevitable, all you can do if either party makes one is to apologise, and move on. One thing to look out for is if the course material is making your student really uncomfortable. While discussions on this topic are unwise in this forum, I will mention it as it flicked into my mind and I can't think of a better example right now. Back in university days 18 years ago, we had some lectures on abortion, and a few students couldn't bear to attend those lectures. The lecturers, thankfully, understood that the topic was difficult, to say the least, and while we had to cover it as part of the coursework, that was one thing we were allowed to do totally on our own, in our own homes, and roughly at our own pace, as long as it got done. So if it comes up in the course - some covens want people to be skyclad for example - and some people find that an impossible ask because we tend to be so self-conscious and inhibited about those things, particularly in the English speaking countries - that might be something that needs to be considered. Some compromise by wearing only a robe, which they keep specifically for that purpose. Regardless of culture, if people are pushed harder than what they can stand, they tend to vote with their feet.

5. Lastly, your own confidence will grow as you do more teaching, and your students will teach you some things, often unconsciously, at the same time that you are teaching them.

I hope this helps you a little. Best of luck!
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First time mentoring 6 Dec 16 4:40 pm America/Chicago #4

  • Ouroboros
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The one thing I can add is don't take yourself too seriously! If you make a mistake, laugh about it. It is OK to be nervous, the first time will a little rough but I'm sure that you know your stuff.
Try to enjoy teaching something you love.
love and Laughter
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First time mentoring 6 Dec 16 7:58 pm America/Chicago #5

  • Rabblerouzer
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When I was new, the person who introduced me to Paganism tried really hard to avoid the teacher/student dichotomy. This was done in a few ways.

First, My guide never discounted anything that i felt to be true about the magical properties of a different objects.(stones, herbs, tools, etc.), Because what a new student feels if very relevant to them and to the rest of us magic users as well. How they feel about different stones, herbs, or color associations will effect their workings, and you never know when the newbie will have an insightful and new take on an old Idea.

For example My guide and I felt the same way about willow trees. When looking at trees and studying there magical properties I said "I just don't get that feeling about willows, sorrow, death. its more like a grandmas hug after you loose your first pet. I think people go to the trees when they are sad, not that the tree makes them sad, or maybe it's consoling them belatedly for previous grief". The guide said " I have often felt this way too, but never been able to put it into words, I don't talk to many people about this kind of stuff so its hard to put the feeling into words."

Culpeper's herbal has it written this way (death/sorrow associations), and it was the only widely available herbal guide for decades so it got spread around from correspondence table to correspondence table based only on one man's take on the tree."

You can and will teach each other.

The second thing that helped avoid the teacher/student paradigm was the attitude taken by the guide. It was never ' I am the authority, I've been doing this for years'. It was more like ' Hey let me show you something, I think you'll like it'.

Third, Field trips!!!. If you are studying plants go to a botanical garden, Stones, go to a rock shop. When you see the newbie take a keen interest in a type of stone or tree, you now know where their interest is or what is reaching out to them. You can make more info on that subject available to them. A non-rigid class plan helps with this. DON'T PANIC, I know there is a lot to cover, you will get to it. the newbie will retain all this new knowledge better if they are interested in it, or if that particular subject is reaching out to them. You can use the Interest that you know they have to peak their interest in other areas they might not be so excited about by drawing parallels between the two subjects and showing how they can and do work together.

I hope this is close to what you were looking for. These are the methods my guide used, they really helped me to truly understand magic with out the leader/follower student/teacher stuff that can really stunt the newbie as well as the advanced practitioner.
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