12811 BB: Connectedmentor.com
Organizers: Tené Gray, Elsa Rodriguez, Bernadette Sánchez
Presenters: Dixie Ching, Andrea Hart, Brenda Hernandez, Ashlyn Sparrow, Nathan Phillips
Mentoring has long been defined formally as an intensive interaction with experienced and trusted adviser. However, what mentoring is and is not in informal spaces, across HOMAGO spaces, in pop-ups, and in short instances has been open to interpretation and not clearly defined. When reflecting on the range of experiences that youth have in out-of-school contexts like those found in Hive Learning Networks, one can point to many instances when adults mentor youth in ways that don’t quite fit the traditional model, but are still valuable in their own right. In order to begin bridging connections across Connected Learning spaces for young people, we need to build a community of mentors. To do this, we set out to construct a framework in an effort to develop a common understanding and language related to the type of mentoring that happens in out-of-school spaces. After observing programs and speaking with adults across organizations, we devised the Connected Mentoring Framework. Its purpose is to help practitioners see where their roles fit into a broader definition of mentoring as positive youth-adult relationship building in out-of-school time.
Beyond having a common language and understanding of how adults play a critical role in creating positive relational spaces for youth, it was evident that community of mentors to serve as bridges and guides in navigating learning journeys was necessary. This community would also need a space, a place where practitioners could discuss their professional practice, share what works and troubleshoot needs through conversation. To this end, we built the Connected Mentor website, a collection of the Connected Mentor Framework, best practices from practitioners, dos and donts from youth and a discussion board where mentors can connect, learn and share.
Currently, this has been shared only with a few Hive Learning Communities. Through this panel, we hope to share this framework and tool more broadly with the Digital Media Learning community and increase its usage, thereby continuing to grow this essential community of mentor-identified adults. The site launched in December of 2014 and a variety of organizations and individual practitioners will be using elements of it toward training new staff, on-boarding volunteers, enriching content experts and reflecting on their own practice. After sharing the framework and tool itself, our panel will share a few case studies of usage at each of their organizations or programs and then open up for feedback and allow attendees a chance to think about using this framework in their own work.
We hope to continue encouraging and helping adults working in youth learning spaces to identify themselves as mentors and see the connections they make as crucial in building positive relationships for youth.