1.1 Expectations of a mentor
In the following video, student mentor Ann Marie describes what expectations she had of a mentor when she commenced the pre-registration nursing programme. She also shares her experiences of being mentored and what she feels that she will bring to her future mentoring practice.
From this video you are able to see what Ann Marie looked for in mentors and what impact these practitioners had on her personal and professional development. Ann Marie was also able to reflect on how these experiences have impacted on her new role as a developing mentor.
It is impossible to ensure with certainty that students and mentors enter the mentoring relationship and are always able to establish positive working relationships. This theme will be addressed in Week 4, when you will explore conflict, and in Week 7, when you will look at the thorny issue of managing the ‘failing’ student. What is the impact on learning when relationships go astray?
It is also worth noting at this time that it is highly probable that both mentors and students enter into a mentor relationship with preconceived expectations. This will in part be examined in Week 4, but you might wish to consider how this might impact on your developing mentor role and why it is essential that you are aware and own these features so that you are able to guide and support the student to achieve their optimal performance.
Activity 2 ‘Toxic’ mentoring
Watch the following video, which was designed by the University of Hertfordshire:
Although designed around a trainee teacher’s experience, the six ‘should not’ behaviours identified in the video can easily be transferred to nursing. Consider each behaviour and answer the following questions:
- Reflect on whether you have experienced or observed each ‘toxic’ behaviour in practice.
- Consider the impact that this behaviour had on learners and on the process of learning.
- Consider the actions that you can take to direct you away from these identified negative behaviours to enable more successful interaction with students.
Three initial observations of the mentor are that he:
- was completely uninterested in the mentor or the mentoring relationship
- continually failed to listen
- lacked any focus on the learner or aspects of possible learning.
The six ‘should not’ behaviours identified were:
- don’t make the person feel unwelcome
- don’t overload the learner with mountains of information
- don’t fail to make time of the learner
- don’t cancel mentoring sessions as they are important
- don’t fail to listen
- don’t discourage – always try to give balanced feedback.
All these behaviours seemed to have significant and detrimental impacts on the student’s ability and opportunities for learning. You only need to consider the changes in the trainee teacher’s non-verbal patterns to realise the effect that her mentor had on her personally. As you develop your mentoring skills, these behaviours should be avoided; instead, you should look to adopt practices that where learning is optimised rather than affected negatively. Tied into this is the need to recognise and accommodate differences – whether those differences are associated with personality traits or cultural manifestations.
As a developing mentor you need to get under the surface and recognise, for example, that an overtly enthusiastic person may not necessarily always be a good student; you should rely on a number of observations to inform your judgement on a student’s competence and confidence.
If you are studying this learning as part of an NMC mentorship preparation programme, develop this activity further to consider Question 3 in greater detail. In the Introduction and guidance section of the course you were directed to an action plan that could be downloaded from the resources website for KG006 Facilitating learning in practice: mentorship portfolio assessment. Download this action plan and identify at least five actions that you can take to improve the success of your mentoring practices. This is especially important given that you will be supporting students in environments that are often very busy and where you may feel under pressure.
Why don’t you talk your thoughts through with your supervisor, who will be guiding your practice and determining your competence to take on the role of mentor, and use this reflection and discussion time as part of your record of ‘protected study’? Remember that you should aim to keep your action plan dynamic – that is, you constantly add or amend it as your competence increases. It is likely that the action plan could contribute to essential pieces of evidence that you use to demonstrate achievement of competencies in your portfolio.