Mentors play a key role at Makeshift Homeschool helping guide students toward achieving their potential. Mentors are not tutors. It only takes 1-2 hours a week per mentee. You don't need to have all the answers, or have a lot of experience. All you need to be a mentor is a desire to grow yourself by helping others.
Mentors empower their mentees by connecting, guiding and supporting them:
Connect - Message your students at least every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Guide - Provide your students with tools and suggestions for projects.
Support - Help your students complete and present projects.
We also provide "Additional Resources" in section 4 of this article.
Being a mentor doesn't take a lot of time...but it's not easy. Mentors are like the Jedi...because they are super powerful. They use their powers to empower young people and help them achieve their potential. When you become a mentor you embark on an adventure, and like Frodo from The Hobbit you will grow faster than ever because of the challenges and opportunities you will face.
In this guide we share what we have learned on how to connect, guide and support mentees in ways that help them achieve their potential.
Mentors connect with their mentees at least every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Each touchpoint serves a purpose:
Monday - What would you like to do this week?
Wednesday - Would you like to present at tomorrow's Virtual Classroom?
Friday - Would you like to present at tomorrow's Virtual Classroom?
Yes, the touchpoint on Wednesday and Friday is the same. Virtual Classrooms are held each Thursday at 5pm and Saturday as 2pm EST.
Together, these touchpoints help mentees set goals for the week each Monday, and have an opportunity to share there projects every Virtual Classroom.
Mentors guide their mentees by helping them cultivate their strengths and natural curiosity. You can do this by (A) asking questions and (B) sharing tools and suggestions for projects. We also have several (C) group projects that your student may want to participate in.
A. Questions to ask mentees:
What interests you?
What are your strengths?
What do you do for fun?
What do you like to talk to your friends about?
Who are your personal heroes?
What's your favorite memory?
What are some of your favorite accomplishments?
Have you ever thought about starting a business?
If you could buy anything what would it be?
If you could make anything what would you make?
If you could go anywhere where would you go?
If you could meet anyone who would you meet?
If you could have any superpower what would it be?
What qualities do you look for in a friend?
What qualities do you hope your friends see in you?
What's one thing you love about yourself?
What is your favorite part of the day?
What is one subject you wish you knew more about?
When was a time you laughed really hard?
When was a time that you were so happy that nothing else mattered?
There are many other questions you can ask your mentees. There is nothing special about these questions. The point is that you are showing them that you want to know them and helping them cultivate their curiosity about themselves and the world.
B. Tools and suggestions for projects:
MSHS is building out lots of tools to help our students come up with projects tailored to their unique strengths and interests. Until we have these on the WebApp you can provide these tools and suggestions to your mentees including projects made by other students, ten remote learning projects, Khan Academy, Crash Course, and TED.
Students Page - Encourage your mentees to check out the projects already on the Makeshift Homeschool website. Click the students face to see their projects.
Ten Remote Learning Ideas - We also put together a list of 10 project ideas for 2021 that might get your creative juices flowing.
Khan Academy is a great resource for young people to build core skills and explore new concepts. You can pretty much learn anything that you would in a K-12 public school and beyond on Khan Academy.
Crash Course is a great resource for young people to explore new ideas and concepts. We especially like their World History series. Some MSHS students used Crash Course as the source for their own articles.
TED is a great resource for young people to find "Ideas Worth Sharing" (that's their tag line). TED hosts leaders across many disciplines to share ideas in lectures...but lectures that you choose to watch. As you can see from the picture below, Ted hosts leaders on a wide range of subjects.
C. Collaborative Group Projects
Makeshift Homeschool also has several ongoing collaborative projects that your mentee may enjoy like the WEquil Combinator, MSHS Minecraft Server, Team Building events, Student YouTube Channel, and Coding Parties.
WEquil Combinator - The WEquil Combinator is a startup incubator created exclusively for Makeshift Homeschool students. A startup is a small company trying to solve a problem. Students might be trying to build an App, sell a service, or create a new product. Students come up with a business idea and pitch to MSHS just like in Shark Tank (See link below).The name "WEquil Combinator" comes from WEquil the parent company that owns MSHS, and YCombinator founder Paul Graham and used some of his essays as inspiration for her own. As the youngest ever EdTech startup CEO ... Sumay believes that you are never too young to start your own business.
Yo - Isaac, Gavin, Cadence ... We need a huge Green MSHS Logo in our Minecraft Server world so we can post a picture of it here. See example below. Thank you!
Student YouTube Channel - Several of our students are trying to launch their own YouTube Channel. We want to support them. The challenge is that it's really hard for one student by themselves to get noticed. We think all students will be more successful starting their own YouTube Channel if they can work together and help each other improve video quality and publish under the same channel. That's the idea behind the MSHS Student Channel. Should the channel become successful then students could launch from that channel...and hopefully bring the following they have with them. We are still figuring on the details...but the key point here is that the internet is a big place...and we think our students have a better chance of success if they work together.
Coding Parties are free every Monday through Friday from 8:30am - 9:30am EST for students that want to help build MSHS. That's right...our students are helping to build their own school. We call them "Parties" because we have a great time even though we are mastering complex software and building real solutions to help kids around the world love learning. Sumay, our elementary school dropout turned EdTech CEO leads the coding parties. You can get started by watching her YouTube video on "Flutter Basics" which is the programming language that runs MakeshiftHomeschool.app.
As you can see...there are many ways mentors can help inspire mentees to learn and explore. Start by asking them lots of questions. Then share examples of projects from students, our list of tools, and connect them with other students involved in group projects. Share this article with them, but guide them through it. You are opening doors. Help make it easy for them to walk through.
Mentors help their mentees finish projects. By "finish" we mean make it "presentable". By "presentable" we mean that mentees will be able to present something they can feel good about. Projects do not need to win a Nobel Prize or be of the highest and best quality. It's far more important that students finish projects and move on to new ones so they can look back on their work and see their progress.
Mentors are expected to reach out to their mentees every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to see if they could use some help completing their projects. Mentors are responsible for encouraging their mentees to keep the ball rolling...and for that we developed the "Support Checklist".
We have a winning process for bringing projects to completion...
Project Checklists - MSHS projects currently fall into two categories: Articles and Videos. Just about everything except the group projects fall into one of these two categories. Even music can fit into our video templates...they just use a picture along with the audio files. We have a MSHS Writing Checklist that you should share with your mentee when they begin a writing project. You should use this checklist when they have a draft ready for your review. We are in the process of creating more checklists for other types of projects. You can help if you want!
Experienced Mentor Review - All students are assigned two other student mentors and one experienced mentor. One of the student mentors needs to sign off on a project before it goes to the experienced mentor for their review. This is an opportunity for the experienced mentor to help student mentors become better reviewers and grow them as leaders. The goal of experienced mentors is to help student mentors become so reliable that they no longer need an experienced mentor review.
Publish and Share - Once projects have received the green light from an experienced mentor the project is published on the Website under the student's name. We then share the project on social media so that parents following our Twitter and Facebook accounts can see it and share with friends and family.
Socialize and Present - Once projects have been published the mentor checks to make sure their mentees share the link on Slack under the Students Channel along with an invitation to watch them present at the next available Virtual Classroom. This provides an opportunity for students, parents, and other associates of MSHS to see what projects will be presented and offer comments and suggestions ahead of time. Mentors are responsible for helping their students have a good experience presenting their projects, balancing the need to give them room to fail; while also helping them come away being more confident and ready to build their next project.
Repeat - After the project has been published and presented, mentors are responsible for helping repeat the process by going through this "Guide".
Supporting your mentee is much more than just a checklist. Ultimately...supporting your mentee is about helping them learn to love learning. It's about opening their eyes to possibilities and helping them dream big. At the same time it's also about helping them learn how to set practical goals for the week, and finish what they start. We attract very bright and ambitious students...the kids or young people that were probably already destined to become future leaders. But we all need a little encouragement and guidance now and then...and that's where you, the mentor, comes in.
4. Additional Resources
You May also find these articles helpful. They cover topics that help people listen better, build deep relationships, how to win friends, and many other insights that will help you become a better mentor. Most of these articles were written by students at MSHS. Perhaps you would like to write one for your next project.
How to Listen Better - https://www.wequil.com/post/how-to-listen-better
Deep Relationships - https://www.wequil.com/post/deep-relationships-with-jordan-peterson
Winning Friends - https://www.wequil.com/post/winning-friends-with-dale-carnegie
Art of Negotiation - https://www.makeshifthomeschool.com/post/the-art-of-negotiation
Make yourself powerful - https://www.makeshifthomeschool.com/post/make-yourself-powerful
Be a force for good - https://www.makeshifthomeschool.com/post/be-a-force-for-good
Build better relationships - https://www.makeshifthomeschool.com/post/build-better-relationships
Regrets of the Dying - https://www.wequil.com/post/regrets-of-the-dying
The Hamburger Model - https://www.wequil.com/post/the-hamburger-model
Lessons from Fiction - https://www.wequil.com/post/lessons-from-fiction
Power Pose - https://www.wequil.com/post/power-pose
Want more knowledge on how to become a more powerful mentor? Check out https://www.wequil.com/blog
Thank you for thinking about being a mentor at MSHS. If you want to take on this challenge please reach out to Steve Goodman who runs our Mentoring Program. Suggestions for improving this guide are appreciated and can be shared on the Slack Mentor Channel.
Chairman of MSHS