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.
The support and supervision of mentoring relationships is critical to ensure the success of the program as well as the safety of participants. In group mentoring programs, mentors are not only managing their own relationships with the girls, but also the relationships between the girls. Should your program match groups of girls with more than one mentor, mentors will also be building friendships with the other mentors in the group. Monitoring of the program must include monitoring the dynamics of the group. It is the organization’s responsibility to support its mentoring matches to evolve into healthy and productive relationships.
In their chapter on Group Mentoring in the Handbook of Youth Mentoring, Kuperminc & Thomason (2014) share the following thoughts and recommendations for the supervision of group mentoring relationships:
“We recommend a two-pronged approach including periodic observation (e.g. by program staff or mentors serving as guest observers to other groups), and consistent logging of group activities and impressions of the group process by mentors. These processes are useful for documenting basic program information (e.g., attendance) and charting progress of individuals and the group as a whole. Such information can be used to identify problems and strategize solutions (e.g. working with a disruptive mentee), monitor the stages of group development, reflect on what is working and what needs to be changed, gauge youths’ levels of energy and engagement, and plan for the ending of the group.”
Herrera, Vang & Gale (2002) found that group mentors who had strong relationships with their mentees demonstrated behaviours consistent with strong one-on-one mentoring relationships. When monitoring matches in a group, there are some standard things to watch for. These include:
Some recommended strategies for ongoing mentor support and supervision include:
Open Door Policy: Regular conversations with mentors and mentees about their experiences in the group will reveal how they feel the relationships are progressing and if they feel comfortable and safe. It is therefore critical for program staff to clearly identify who mentors and mentees should go to first in the event of an issue. More importantly, staff should ensure that this person identified as the first point of contact makes the effort to establish trust and forge connections with both mentors and mentees early on in the process.
Separate Mentor Meetings: Gather mentors together regularly to debrief, share challenges and encourage one another. This could occur for a half hour before or after the mentoring group meeting, at ongoing training sessions, by going out for coffee or through any similar casual meeting.
Ongoing Mentor Training: Provide ongoing opportunities to engage in training and learning. This can include bringing in a speaker, facilitating a workshop or taking mentors offsite for training. It is ideal to let the mentors identify areas they would like to learn more about or to leverage what they have said in the mentor debrief sessions. Be sure to build this into the program budget.
Mentor Community Support: Creating space for the mentors to develop relationships with one another can be a valuable strategy. Some programs use an online platform to allow them to connect in between sessions.
Ongoing Staff Supervision: Attend the group mentoring sessions regularly or on occasion. Be present and check in with the mentors individually to make sure they are comfortable and can handle the discussion within the groups. In addition to having an open door policy, consider including scheduled check-ins for mentors to address needs. One-on-one check-ins are important to create the space for mentors to disclose issues that are difficult to address within the larger group or raise potential concerns about their own performance, compatibility with girls or conflict with other mentors.