By Rebecca Hoskins
I’ve been thinking a lot about mentorship lately. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about why students need mentorship, and what it means to be a mentor. From what I’ve seen in the makerspaces, it can look like a lot of things. For instance, every tinkerer on our team has their own teaching style, which translates to different kinds of mentorship. Dave Hicks at Costaño lets his students figure out how to get things done in their own way with the tools he lays out for them. Edward Hostia at Brentwood is a patient guide for his young students, while Ben Magee is laid-back but direct.
Whatever the style, students benefit from mentorship in a variety of ways. Having access to guidance from an adult helps students feel supported and empowered, and helps them meet expectations in the classroom. It also helps students make good use of their limited time in the makerspaces. One of my favorite things to do as a volunteer in the makerspaces is to find students who are wandering around aimlessly and help them decide what to make or do.
Being a mentor doesn’t have to be complicated. Synonyms for “mentor” include: adviser, guide, guru, counselor, and consultant, according to google. These words have a lofty ring to them; they imply a breadth of knowledge that not everyone feels comfortable claiming. I’ve noticed that in practice, however, mentorship can be as simple as asking a student about what they’re working on with genuine curiosity. Your time and attention is a gift you can give to students, regardless of your background or education.
If you’d like to give that gift to our students, please fill out a volunteer interest form here .