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How to Become a Good Tutor: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself
Wednesday, October 12th, 2022
Mentorship has been around since the beginning of time1. The mentor-mentee relationship is one of the oldest associations known to man. The first mentor would've undoubtedly been a caveman who taught his little brother how to hunt and survive in the wild. Over time, mentorship has evolved into something far more complex but ultimately just as rewarding.
Though there have mainly been philosophical and religious mentors for the longest time, mentoring has become a valuable tool for education and career development.
Mentoring in this regard can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling jobs. It helps you make a real difference in someone's life. It can also be a great way to learn new things while giving back to your community.
However, becoming a good mentor is not always easy. Many people think all you have to do is be a good listener and give good advice, but there's much more to it than that.
If you're interested in joining our database of top-tier mentors, make sure you have what it takes to be an effective mentor.
How to Become a Good Mentor
Here are some questions to ask yourself to ensure you're in a position to make the most of this important role.
What's My Motivation for Becoming a Mentor?Before you start mentoring, it's important to make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. Your motivation should come from the possibility of helping someone else, not making yourself feel good.Being a mentor isn't about telling someone what to do or giving them all the answers. It's about supporting them as they find their way and helping them develop their skills and knowledge.
Can I Be Patient and Selfless?Being a mentor requires a certain amount of selflessness. You must be willing to put your mentee's needs above your own and be available when they need you. That means making time in your schedule for regular check-ins and being responsive to their questions and concerns.You also need to be patient. Mentoring relationships can take time to develop, and giving your mentee the space to grow at their own pace is critical for success. They'll likely make mistakes along the way, and it's your job to help them learn from those mistakes, not berate them for making them in the first place.
Am I Prepared to Commit and Stay Humble?Mentorship requires commitment. It warrants time and energy, so you need to be sure that you can give your mentee the attention they deserve.At the same time, you must always be willing to learn something new and never be over-confident with your mentees, no matter how little knowledge or experience they may have.Remember that the mentor-mentee relationship2 is reciprocal in nature. The person you're mentoring will also have something to offer you. Be open to learning from them as well as helping them.Humbleness and humility are the most important qualities of a good mentor. It keeps you grounded and helps expand your knowledge to serve your mentees better.
Can I Take a Collaborative Approach to Setting Goals?When a mentee reaches out to you, they bring some sort of motivation and expectations to the table. Some need assistance to pass their exams with flying colors, while others wish to explore career paths and determine their strengths.A good mentor always takes the time to gauge a mentee's motivation in order to tailor the sessions to hit the nail on the head. This ensures that every minute spent together is productive and meaningful.You should be able to set goals with the mentee and create a framework outlining the objectives and milestones for each session. Make sure to assign a deadline to each task to stay on track. This will give the mentee much-needed peace of mind. If an unforeseen circumstance causes a delay, you could always collaborate and make the necessary adjustments to the objective list and timeline.
Can I Teach Without Relying on a Never-Ending Deck of Slides?Mentors who rely on a slide deck for one-on-one sessions don't go far. They stick to a script while showing new information on the slides–it just doesn't grab a mentee's attention or help them focus.While visual aids are great for breaking down complex information into easy-to-digest pieces, try to maintain a balance with verbal explanations. A good idea is to provide links that the mentee can look up later when they dive deeper into a concept. This way, the session won't be too overwhelming for them, and they'll be happy to know they can learn at their own pace.
Can I Listen Patiently?Often, mentors are so eager to tell mentees the "right" way that they don't bother listening to their point of view or concerns.To become a good mentor, you must polish your listening skills. It's important to let your mentee do most of the talking so that you can understand their goals, concepts, and what they need help with.It sounds simple, but it's not always easy to do. You must be patient and give the person you're mentoring time to speak without interrupting them. This will give them the confidence to speak their mind and assure them that you'll be there to explain things if they don't get it right.The same applies when you assign a task to the mentee – let them take a stab at it even when you know they're not thinking correctly before you jump in to save the day.
Will I Be Able to Explain the Business Side of Things?A good mentor connects all teaching points with the professional world to provide added value to mentees.You must always cover the business logic when allowing a student to dive into a task. This will give them a greater context and encourage them to look at the bigger picture for a more holistic understanding of a subject.
Am I Capable of Connecting a Mentee's Existing Knowledge to New Information?Did you know that humans develop the ability to transfer knowledge to new situations when they're just 16 months3?No wonder students learn faster by using their existing knowledge to grasp new information.As a mentor, you must first discover what your mentee already knows to make it easier for them to retain new knowledge. For example, you could find that they're a pro in one programming language and want to learn another. In this case, it'll be best to start with the similarities between the two languages before explaining the differences.
Can I Identify Opportunities for Career Growth?As a mentor, you may notice that a student picks up certain concepts faster than anything else or that they're more passionate about one thing. Take this chance to highlight opportunities for career growth. Show them various options and how they can approach those opportunities to make it easier for them to navigate the professional world.This approach will motivate the mentees to try new things and explore different avenues to gauge their strengths. In these efforts, they'll become a well-rounded individual.
Am I Capable of Setting Boundaries with the Mentee?Good mentors know how to set personal and professional boundaries to protect their time and energy.Mentoring can be demanding, and if you don't set limits on how much time and energy you're willing to invest, it can be easy to quickly become overwhelmed and burn out. This will be unhealthy for you and affect your ability to mentor effectively.Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Set clear expectations with your mentee up front.
- Don't be afraid to say no.
- Establish rules regarding communication frequency and methods.
- Draw the line at personal favors.
By setting clear expectations from the beginning, you can avoid misunderstandings and conflicts down the road.
Be direct, but also be respectful. Explain why you're setting the boundary, and be clear about the consequences if it's not respected. For example, you might say something like, "I'm not comfortable discussing personal issues outside of our mentoring sessions. If you need to talk about something that's bothering you, we can do it during our next meeting."
It's also important to be flexible. Boundaries can change over time, so be open to revisiting them as needed.
Mentoring can be a rewarding experience, but it's not without its challenges. By setting clear boundaries from the start, you can help ensure that you and your mentee get the most out of the relationship.
Start Your Mentorship Journey at Mentor DB Today!It wasn't long ago that if you wanted to be a mentor, you had to do it in person. You had to meet your mentees face-to-face and guide them through their struggles and successes one-on-one. Thankfully, technology has facilitated online platforms like Mentor DB that have revolutionized how we mentor. Our platform provides flexibility and convenience for mentors and mentees, making the process more seamless than ever before.
If you're the kind of person who gets satisfaction from helping others reach their potential and ticks all the boxes above, mentoring will be a rewarding experience for you.
Being a good mentor takes time and effort, but it's worth it. We hope these tips help you become the best mentor you can be!