Our school has a fairly large mentor program for ninth-graders that seems to be going well.

I coordinate a new parallel effort that is specifically focused on providing mentors to all newcomer English Language Learners.  In this program, the mentors are generally English Language Learners themselves who have been at our school for two years or more and who speak the same home language as their mentee.  We now have mentors for about fifteen newcomers.

It’s a bit embarrassing that I haven’t done this sooner, to tell you the truth.

Here are the simple guidelines I’ve developed for them (you can download them here).

What are your suggestions to make them better? I want to keep them as simple as possible:

ELD Peer Mentor Guidelines

  1. Meet with your mentee at least one time each week for at least fifteen minutes. Talk with Mr. Ferlazzo about the best time to meet with her/him, and Mr. Ferlazzo will make arrangements with teachers.
  1. First, get to know your mentee — ask them about their lives, families, interests, goals. Share your own stories with them, too. It’s especially important for them to hear from you about the challenges and problems you have faced being a newcomer to the United States and what has helped you overcome them.
  1. Some questions to regularly ask your mentee could include:
  • What have been the best things that have happened to you this week – in and out of school? 
  • What have been the biggest challenges/problems you’ve face this week – in and out of school? 
  • What classes are you doing well in, and what classes are you having problems in?  What are some things you can do to help deal with those problems? 
  • Do you feel like anyone is bullying you or making fun of you? 
  • Are there any questions you have about the school or life in the United States?
  1. Check in with Mr. Ferlazzo each week, so he can let you know if he has suggestions about topics to discuss with your mentee — for example, if your mentee has done something particularly well in class or if he/she seems to having some specific challenges. You can also let Mr. Ferlazzo know if you learned anything helpful from your mentee – for example, if he/she feels like a class is too difficult for him/her or if your mentee has a suggestion about how Mr. Ferlazzo or another teacher can do something different that would help.