There are two aspects to Mere's story that immediately come to mind when I think about how I might work as her mentor. These are:
- that her experience with Pākehā teachers (I am Pākehā also) in the past has not been all that positive and this remains in the front of her mind.
- that she finds learning a lot easier in contexts where she senses that teachers/mentors care about her - not only as a person but also as a learner. They have high expectations that she wants to and can succeed.
To be successful as her mentor I would be wise to find out these things early in our work together. This means taking the time to build up a trusting relationship and not taking this for granted, as I can be inclined to do, especially when I know she is paying for my time. At a practical level this could mean considering things such as:
- being reasonably flexible with times so Mere can fit her sessions around family
- sharing whakapapa
- sharing aspirations and stories - hers and mine
- discussing meeting protocols such as how we open and close sessions.
- encouraging Mere to talk about times/instances where she has enjoyed and been successful in learning - supporting her to isolate the critical success factors so that I/we can make use of these going forward.
- Meeting face-to-face at least once if possible
- being open and non-judgemental in my responses and provocations
- Checking in frequently to try and ascertain if the mentoring is working for her.
Something else... keeping in the back of my mind the fact that she learns best when she works with others. Inviting her to think about who she might engage. Perhaps even suggesting that she move to a team virtual mentoring model (if that was possible).