Girls Group Mentoring Toolkit

This Girls Group Mentoring Toolkit provides the tools, resources and support to create, implement, deliver and evaluate a quality group mentoring program for girls, ages 9-13, in your community. The Toolkit is intended to be used in a range of communities, and can be adapted to the unique values, needs, strengths and challenges that each community encompasses.

Training

Mentor Training: Content Development

The content you develop for mentor training should reflect the goals of your program, the mentors you work with and their level of knowledge and experience, as well as the particular realities of the girls in your community. It is highly recommended that organizations develop a mentor training plan and framework at the beginning of the program to ensure that all key topics will be delivered at appropriate times.

Before beginning to develop content, review the topics with the perspective of your mentors in mind. When working with teen mentors you must consider the level of language, scope of information and framing of certain topics to ensure they are accessible and comfortable. When working with adult mentors, you should consider the level of life experience or professional experience they bring as well as their literacy levels to ensure the information will resonate and not feel too overwhelming. There should be a balance between the technical training on policies, safety and positive behaviours while still ensuring plenty of space for mentors to get excited and have fun. Be sure that you are communicating the rewarding and fun experience the mentors will have in the program.

Mentor Training Content: General Concepts

There are a wide variety of training concepts that can be explored through your mentor training. The list below highlights some of the most important categories that programs should include. The list might look daunting when first starting out, but remember that some of this training can be simply introduced in the beginning and revisited later in the ongoing training. Some organizations have found it helpful to create a PowerPoint presentation that covers a number of the information-heavy topics. This is typically presented at the beginning of the session before the interactive components of the mentor training.

The following list, though not exhaustive, summarizes some important topics to incorporate in mentor training:

Training Topic Activity Ideas Handouts/Tools
Specific program details: Orientation to the program should include details about scheduling, location, policies and goals of the program and the host organization. Include a tour of the space to help mentors connect with the organization. Encourage mentors to exchange information to connect with one another. If using a group training format, include an icebreaker Circulate a copy of the schedule and contact information for their staff point of contact.
Specific details of the stakeholder roles: Discuss the responsibilities, purposes and expectations of mentors, mentees and staff. Parents or guardians should also be considered. Ask mentors to talk about the impact a mentor has had on their life and pull out the qualities that made that relationship impactful. Generate a comprehensive list from the group and apply these to the role. You might encourage mentors to generate a contract to themselves stating the impact or qualities they aspire to have in their mentoring relationship.

Have a handout that outlines group rules or a mentor contract and code of conduct.

Roles of a Mentor Activity - Training New Mentors, National Mentoring Center (2007)
http://www.mentoring.org/downloads/mentoring_1133.pdf

The importance of their role and relationship closure: Mentors should understand their role and the positive impact they will have on the girls’ lives. They should also understand that this can result in a negative influence if the ending is not managed carefully. This should not intimidate mentors with the commitment they are undertaking, but should instead focus on the importance of healthy closure when the role ends. Review scenes from common movies that show emotional outcomes for an individual that do not experience the benefits of proper relationship closure. Have the mentors write a letter to their future mentees thanking them for the opportunity to work together and learn from one another. When introducing material that could be potentially distressing or evoke difficult emotions, such as this topic, be sure to offer a ‘trigger warning’ so participants are prepared for the material and have the option to excuse themselves. This helps to maintain a safe and positive space for participants.
Youth development: Trainers should introduce concepts of cognitive, emotional, social and physical development. This will help them have a sense of what positive youth development looks like and how the relationship and individual might progress in the relationship. Use the 40 developmental assets to do exercises that demonstrate positive youth development and address strengths-based engagement (below). 40 Developmental Assets,
Search Institute (1997, 2007)
http://www.search-institute.org/content/40-developmental-assets-adolescents-ages-12-18

Mentoring Fact Sheet, Mentoring Resource Center (2007)
http://educationnorthwest.org/sites/default/files/resources/factsheet14.pdf
http://www.gotassets.net/developmental-assets.html

What Supports do Youth Need?, Training New Mentors, National Mentoring Center (2007)
http://www.mentoring.org/downloads/mentoring_1133.pdf

Strength-based engagement: Mentors should participate in strength-based practices to build on capabilities, knowledge, skills and assets that already exist to help develop the resiliency needed to overcome challenges. See above for activities related to the 40 developmental assets See above for 40 developmental assets handout.
Diversity, inclusion and cultural competence: Mentors will benefit from a basic background of relevant key concepts such as racial, ethnic and cultural diversity, as well as gender variance, sexual orientation and disabilities. In addition to structured training on these concepts, bring the learning to life by some of the following: deconstruct media to show the lack of representation; incorporate different cultural food each week to explore different cultures; and celebrate a range of holidays in the program from different countries, cultures and religions.

Amplify Toolkit, Girls’ Action Foundation (2009)
http://girlsactionfoundation.ca/files/Amplify_2010_LR_0.pdf

Strategies, issues and considerations for relationship-building: Understanding the relationship development process—particularly in the context of the mentoring relationship—can be very helpful. It is also important to have clear guidelines on how to handle certain behaviours within the group when conflict arises in the relationship building process (see Managing the Group Dynamic section). Discussion and role-playing scenarios can be helpful to practice managing conflict, healthy communication or active relationship-building strategies. Role-playing activity Examples: http://educationnorthwest.org/sites/default/files/resources/training.pdf

Overcoming Relationship Pitfalls – Mentoring Fact Sheet, Mentoring Resource Centre (2006)
http://educationnorthwest.org/sites/default/files/resources/factsheet10.pdf

Building Relationships: A Guide for New Mentors, National Mentoring Center (2007)
http://educationnorthwest.org/sites/default/files/resources/building_relationships.pdf

Child safety: Training must include what to do if you suspect a child is experiencing abuse as well as considerations for keeping yourself (as a mentor) safe. Provide clear guidelines and instructions on the steps a mentor should take if they suspect a mentee is experiencing abuse. You might also consider discussing the warning signs of child abuse in training. Child abuse can also include the risk of girls that are being groomed for trafficking, which is particularly relevant for young girls. It is recommended that you consult with your local Children’s Aid Society to gather more information that is relevant and specific to your community.
Disclosure: What steps must mentors take and how they should best respond if a participant or fellow mentor discloses sensitive personal information regarding abuse or other issues of concern. Consider inviting a member of the local Children’s Aid Society to speak to the mentors and present on the Child Protection Policy and when it is appropriate to report. This can also provide a space for mentors to ask questions and voice any concerns.

It is important to have clear guidelines on disclosure and be informed of the policies. Be sure to check the policies specific to your province or region.

Sample background information on disclosure:


How to Respond to a Disclosure, Canadian Red Cross, 2015
http://www.redcross.ca/how-we-help/violence--bullying-and-abuse-prevention/educators/child-abuse-and-neglect-prevention/how-to-respond-to-a-disclosure

Confidentiality: Be sure to discuss the importance of protecting sensitive information regarding youth, families and mentors within the mentoring relationship. Present your organization’s policy on confidentiality. Provide mentors with different conversation scenarios that they may encounter within the mentoring groups. Ask them to identify which conversation topics should remain confidential and discuss the reasons for this.

Example – Confidentiality Form,
Sarnia-Lambton Rebound (2015)

Boundaries: Discussion should include physical boundaries (what physical interactions are allowed and not allowed); communication between mentors and mentees outside of the group (is it allowed?); how to set boundaries as a group; and how mentors can set boundaries with the girls. It is helpful to offer clear instruction on the dos and don’ts for maintaining healthy boundaries since this topic can be complex. Consider incorporating a reflection activity that helps mentors think about their own boundaries.

Healthy Boundaries: Working Closely with Youth and Families, Mentoring Partnership of Massachusetts (2011)
http://www.iyi.org/resources/doc/IYI-Webinar-Healthy-Boundaries2-23-2011.pdf

Establishing and Maintaining Boundaries - Training New Mentors, National Mentoring Center (2007)

http://www.mentoring.org/downloads/mentoring_1133.pdf
Skill development: Training should facilitate and support team collaboration, leadership, communication, problem-solving, decision-making and conflict resolution. Incorporate training for mentors to develop new skills that support them in their mentor role and beyond. Consider having mentors complete self-assessments in the beginning of the program to identify their strengths and desired areas of growth.

Amplify Toolkit, Girls Action Foundation (2009)
http://girlsactionfoundation.ca/files/Amplify_2010_LR_0.pdf p. 438 – 440


Mentor Training Content: Skills for Facilitating Girls Groups

Group mentoring, in particular, requires that mentors have the skills and knowledge to appropriately navigate the group setting and facilitate positive group dynamics. Mentors need to be aware not only of the relationships they are forming with the girls, but also of the relationships that are forming between girls and their peers.

Some important topics to incorporate in girls group facilitation training include:

  • Group facilitation skills: Provide skills-based training related to communication, problem solving, conflict management and relationship management.
  • Benefits and objectives of group mentoring: Highlight and discuss what the program hopes to achieve. Invite participants to share benefits they hope to gain from being a mentor.
  • Stages of group development: Review the stages of group development to guide mentors to understand the process for healthy relationship-building and the highs and lows they may encounter. Understanding this process helps prepare mentors for challenges that may arise and manage their expectations for better outcomes.
  • Working with a co-mentor: If your program includes an approach with co-mentors, your training should address expectations and recommendations for how this partnership will work. It can be helpful to leverage mentors’ suggestions in this process. Incorporating team-building activities can help them break the ice with one another and forge strong connections. 
  • Handling difficult situations: Difficult situations can arise with the group such as disclosure, conflict between girls or a mentee’s personal crisis. Having clear policies around these processes is very important and addressing this early on is paramount. The Managing the Group Dynamic section looks at some of these issues in greater detail.
  • Creating safe, positive and inclusive spaces: Reflecting on the Program & Meetings section, incorporate discussion on the importance of safe space. Brainstorm with mentors on practical strategies for achieving this based on the specific setting of your program.
  • Strategies for ensuring the experience is girl-directed: Brainstorm and provide concrete examples of how to ensure the program is girl-directed.

If you do not have the skills and knowledge required to train mentors on group facilitation, consider asking someone from your community to assist (Sherk, 2006). This could include a youth psychotherapist, a group counsellor, a youth group leader or a child and youth worker. Many programs have also emphasized the value of asking experienced mentors to co-lead sessions.


Contact: mentoringgirls(at)canadianwomen.org