60. Winding down two programs and learning lessons

There are an interesting couple of weeks ahead, as two pilot programs come to an end.

Most of the students have now completed their online Student Performer and it is clear that in the majority of mentoring relationships the students have made some significant progress. Almost all of them have a much greater understanding of career pathways and the options open to them, which is one of the major features of the GR8 MATES program. As this has happened, so has their attitude to school and academic studies improved and, in the majority of cases, there also appears to be a growth in self-image, self-confidence and a greater willingness to reveal the ‘real me’. I am sure there is a whole lot more and will make an effort to comment more fully on a future blog.

A couple of months ago I decided to write one combined email to the mentors of our three programs each week. Previously I had been writing a separate one to each group. The idea behind the combined one, in addition to the obvious saving of administrative time, was to be an encouragement and reassurance to the mentors, perhaps an opportunity to learn from the efforts of other programs etc. Well, in chatting to a mentor the other day, I came to realise that this was not a good idea, as mentors are busy people and don’t read the emails from beginning to end, even when I highlight key points. So, it’s clear that a short, sharp email to each group separately is a more effective strategy to ensure effective ongoing training and support.

I have also added a School Cordinator’s Program Exit Survey in addition to those for mentors, mentees and parents. I can’t believe that I overlooked this earlier 🙂

What has been great to see is that thus far 12 of the current group of 19 mentors have indicated they would like to be matched with another student next year. I was not expecting over 50% to volunteer again. Being totally honest, I thought I might be lucky to scrape 25%, but, reading their Exit Surveys, I can see how much they have enjoyed the journey and have valued the level of support they have received from program staff and the School Coordinator – there’s a lesson there! A couple also intimated that they feel they have learnt so much, they reckon they could be more effective the next time around.

Tomorrow is the first Celebration of the ending of one of these pilot programs – promises to be an interesting day.