Community Engaged Learning starts with a conversation Our vision of Community Engaged Learning, an evolution of Project Based Learning for K-12, recognizes a role for both near-peer mentors and industry mentors. This essential role supports and coaches students over the course of the projects they take on. We believe that there’s a big difference between simply having folks show up at a school, and inviting them to play an effective role in the process for students and teachers. It is so important in our view that we decided to kick off our 7th season of Collab Labs at MSOE’s STEM Center last Thursday with a discussion focused on the roles of mentors, what successful mentoring looks like, and what it takes to get there. Participants included K-12 educators, professionals engaged in mentoring, or working with organizations that provide or support mentors, or engage with schools in other ways. We were also glad to welcome additional community members in a joint effort with Foureva Media’s to use the Collab Lab as their Foureva Movement’s October meetup. By chance or circumstance, the group included several mentor/mentee pairs, who were able to provide additional meaning for the discussion. Personal experience We began the evening with a discussion of participants’ own experiences with, or as a mentor, and what they took away from that involvement. We’re not surprised anymore that our ‘kitchen table format’ consistently enables attendees to ‘go deep’ within 15 minutes of sitting down with complete strangers. Our participants observed: There’s a gatekeeping role in terms of who has access to support students Systemic racism impacts who has access to mentors, who mentors are willing to serve, and expectations about how those relationships should occur The role of the teacher is different than that of mentors, and an outside mentors can often motivate students in ways a teacher cannot The continuity of mentor/mentee relationships can anchor students who might otherwise have disconnected relationships with family Mentors can provide the confidence students need to push through challenges Time is a limited resource, so we need to look for relationships that can offer the maximum impact within those constraints Stats show: People who’ve had mentors are more likely to take leadership roles Definitions of mentoring vary, but what is key is the mentor/mentee relationship A young person needs to trust a mentor as a friend Mentors need to be able to listen Mentors can empower students by giving them a voice Mentors need to be open to “accepting the call” from a student Barriers between the community and school get in the way of mentorship opportunities Goals for Mentors and Students With this as context, we asked participants to capture what they see as the goals behind building mentor/mentee relationships with students. We ask this not just from the perspective of what we want for students, but what we hope mentors gain from the experience. For students, we hope for: Support I want students to see how to be there for yourself I want students to feel heard, empowered I want students to see “professional interaction, and learn to function as a group to build each other up, solve problems, and change the world I want students to feel like they are not alone, that they are supported and wanted I want students to feel loved and that people care about them I want students to have access to supports they may not have at home Acceptance/Validation I want students to feel freedom of exploration I want students to see its ok to be a little different I want them to experience their own ideas in real life I want students to feel included I want students to feel comfortable I want students to feel that they matter and they can create a future beyond where they may be now Variety I want students to experience different opportunities that spark their curiosity I want students to see other role models, learn STEM and life skills Diversity in thought I want students to experience life outside of central Milwaukee I want students to experience representation for all/diversity Perspective I want students to experience a different viewpoint I want students to see someone close in age I want students to see other avenues to be successful I want students to see personality Inspiration/Resilience I want students to see what’s possible, that they can do anything I want students to see the opportunities available to them to be successful I want students to feel excited, encouraged, heard I want students to experience success Bring something different out of them I want students to experience opportunities for curiosity I want students to see a path forward without telling them explicitly– questions and guidance I want students to be curious, to experience opportunities that challenge, and push themselves to think critically and learn new perspectives I want students to experience what they can be outside of what they typically experience Real Life I want students to see people/adults with similar backgrounds and experiences doing what they’ve dreamed (or just thought) of doing I want students to experience every day living I want students and mentors to see the humanness/the light in each other I want students to experience real life/hands on personal growth/learning I want students to learn social responsibility and critical thinking I want mentors to feel an emotional rush/connection For mentors, we hope for: Fulfillment I want mentors to feel they are making a difference I want mentors to feel a connection I want mentors to experience the joy of young people, to see their success and personal growth, to learn from students I want mentors to feel that their time invested in you makes a difference I want mentors to view mentorship as part of their legacy I want mentors to feel capable, confident, energized, that they grow through the experience I want mentors to experience the confidence that they have helped build. I want mentors to see transformation in a mentee, to experience the feeling of impacting some else’s life, to more….