Mentoring is always best in person, but you may have to do it online sometimes. We have heard from amazing women mentoring girls in remote towns or students who have been sent to remote places as part of their studies or work experience. The mentoring has helped them to negotiate these challenging environments.
We also saw some of our organisations attempt online or remote mentoring during lockdowns. This obviously depended on both girls and mentors having access to a phone or computer, and sufficient electricity, data or phone credit. This was often very challenging, with both girls and mentors sometimes struggling to find a safe, private place to talk with a good signal. The difficulties in this often made it frustrating for both mentors and mentees, although staying in touch via text message with established mentor-mentee pairs was often reassuring and encouraging.
If you do choose online mentoring
Remember to keep a record of these sessions and practise Safeguarding (learn more here)
Your mentee’s attention span might affect her capacity to engage during the whole length of the mentoring session. You could also find that family members interrupt or expect her to be doing chores, as well as having disruptions in the connection. Here are some tips and ideas you can use if you face this problem:
Before the session starts: ask her to find as quiet and private a place as possible, ensuring that it is safe. Reassure her that if she cannot do this, or it takes her more time than she thinks, she can let you know. Tell her that if she ever feels unsafe you will not be upset with her for ending the session.
- When starting a mentoring session, invite your mentee to take a minute and take a deep breath and let go of the day’s business, irritations, or stresses.
- Agree to not use your phones during the meeting for any purpose other than this meeting
- Ask her to grab a pencil and paper
- Check that she is following the session by asking quick questions that test whether she lost her train of thought.
- If you notice background noise or other distractions don’t hesitate to ask her to move to a better space if she can.
- Take a short break and grab a drink if needed.
- Make sure that you are keeping a record, and that if you are also at home, are able to keep these private notes safely.
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