Sunday, October 12, 2014

Guidance Lesson: Peer Mentorship (8th grade)

Guidance Lesson - Peer Mentoring

Ever wanted to make your job as a school counselor easier and did not know where to start? Why not get some 8th grade students to help their younger counterparts through the struggle of transitioning to a new school and all the small hurdles that arise from that process. In addition, this program allows 8th grade students to get valuable leadership and socialization experience in a safe and chaperoned manner. At my particular school, we had more 8th grade students sign up for the program than sixth graders; a problem none of us were anticipating.

By the 8th grade, students should be more than capable of behaving in the role-model capacity required of the peer mentoring program. The program also promotes a sense of commitment from students for their school community. The goal of this program is to create an environment where students can achieve all of these outcomes. The following lesson plan addresses the training process specifically. I performed this training during the lunch period in a spare classroom. I split the participating students into two groups to reduce class size.

Guidance Topic: Peer Mentoring Training
Age level: Grade 8
Grouping:  Seated at desks in classroom in standard format

Objective - Educate participating 8th grade students on the expectations and techniques of the peer mentoring program. At the end of the lesson the students will be equipped with the skills and confidence to successfully execute their job as peer mentors.

Rationale - Your school’s counseling staff desires to enhance the transitory experience of incoming 6th (or 7th) grade students by continuing (or creating) an encouraging program that supports students as they transition from elementary to middle school.

Counseling Standards Met -
A:A2.3 Use communications skills to know when and how to ask for help when needed
A:A3.4 Demonstrate dependability, productivity and initiative
A:A3.5 Share knowledge
A:B1.4 Seek information and support from faculty, staff, family and peers
A:C1.1 Demonstrate the ability to balance school, studies, extra-curricular, leisure time, and family life
C:A1.3 - Develop an awareness of personal abilities, skills, interests, and motivations
C:A1.4 - Learn how to interact and work cooperatively in teams
C:A1.7 Understand the importance of planning
C:C2.3 - Learn to work cooperatively with others as a team member
C:A2.9 Utilize time- and task-management skills
C:C2.2 Learn how to use conflict management skills with peers and adults
PS:A1.6 Distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behavior
PS:A1.9 - Demonstrate cooperative behaviors in groups
PS:A2 Acquire Interpersonal Skills
PS:B1.3 - Identify alternative solutions to a problem
PS:B1.10 - Identify alternative ways of achieving goals

Materials Needed -
Training powerpoint
Mentoring folders to distribute to students
Example materials to use during presentation
PBIS motivation to give to students for attending*
Class whiteboard to use at will
Two or more extra chairs for use in example scenarios

*If your school is not a PBIS school, then using other some form of incentive highly recommended

For a printable version of my lesson plan, click this link:
The powerpoint designed to go with this lesson plan is here:

Lesson (30-45 minutes) -
Introduction (slides 1 and 2)
The first two slides of the presentation are used to break in the program and introduce students to the idea of peer mentoring. This is a great place to address the individual needs of your school and discover the experience level your students have regarding mentoring relationships. When I gave my students their training I made a point of inquiring about which students had gone through the program as a mentee in the 6th grade. My favorite part of this segment is explaining my own definition of a mentor.
                                                                            Total Time: 5-10 minutes

Primary Content (slides 3-8)
This section of the presentation covers everything important in the program. The first few slides address the idea of professionalism and the expectations you have of the students acting in the mentoring capacity. I received some very interesting questions from my students. One question I was not expecting was, “Are the 6th grade students getting training as well?” I never expected a student to ask that questions, but I am very happy that it was asked.
As the presentation progresses, it transitions from the general to the refined. I designed the presentation to cover rules and expectations for the students before giving students more specific points to ponder and explore. I recommend using visual cues and role play to assist students in their understanding of the program. I used a whiteboard to record student responses. I also used students to act out scenarios and situations and had students respond with positive critiques.
                                 Total Time: 25-40 minutes

Wrap-up (slides 9 and 10)
Slides 9 and 10
The final two slides consist of eight potential scenarios that students might encounter. The intention for these slides is to give students an opportunity to act and have fun. This segment’s speed can be adjusted to fit the remaining time allotted for the presentation. This could be another good place to use the whiteboard.
At the end of the presentation, summarize primary points and emphasize that follow-up is available through counseling appointments. “It is an honor and a privilege to be a peer mentor, we trust you all to do it well.” Additionally, be sure to thank the students for coming and distribute any materials they need for mentoring.
Don't forget to explain how to use the mentoring folders and leave students feeling confident in their abilities.
                                                                              Total Time: 30-45 minutes

Some hints -

If you present this lesson during the lunch period, remember to account for the lost time when students are getting their lunches and transitioning to your classroom.

Coming up with a fun acronym to name your mentoring program will help make it inviting to students. I used the acronym PAWS which stands for “Peer Assisted Wolverine Success” because our school mascot is the Wolverines!

The training process can be intimidating for students. Be sure to emphasize that there is no perfect way to be a mentor and that the emphasis is on relationship. How the mentoring process looks will change over the course of the school year as the needs of students evolve.

Developing a system to pair 6th and 8th grade students for the mentoring relationship is crucial and difficult process.

As mentioned above, the use of incentives is highly encouraged. Be conscientious of your school’s policy regarding food and allergies before using candy or food as an incentive.

Follow-up and tracking data can be a real challenge. Creating a calendar and charting when students plan to meet with their mentee is the strategy my school used. Leave a comment and let me know what your school does! I want feedback on this part of my lesson.

As a part of our peer mentoring program, my school provides students with a booklet for an activity to do when they cannot figure anything else out. The link to the booklet is here:

Last, but not least, be sure to have loads of fun and enjoy working with your students. You may be pleasantly surprised by what they are capable of!

picture sources -

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