How Along helps develop mentoring relationships

Welcome to January and National Mentoring Month. As you head into the new year with spring semester goals in mind, we want to celebrate the impact you have on your students as both a teacher and mentor. From cultivating lesson plans to checking in on mental well-being, teachers play an incredible role in advising young people on how to navigate coursework and achieve their goals. 

If you don’t consider yourself a mentor, take a step back and remember that there is no one-size-fits-all formula to being an official mentor. Mentorship isn’t defined by a certain number of meet-ups or check-ins. It’s defined by the ways in which you inspire your students and push them to grow. Whether you teach 9th grade Algebra, AP Art History, or P.E., we’re willing to bet that you’ve already become an invaluable guide to your students. Along is here to help you strengthen these relationships in a practical way that fits your schedule.

Discover developmental relationships

As you may know, Along helps build meaningful connections between teachers and students. What you may not know is that we created this tool with the intention of forming developmental relationships. The Search Institute coined this term to describe connections with young people that allow them to thrive both academically and socially. (Sounds a lot like the goals of a mentor, doesn’t it?)

Developmental relationships have proven to enhance the academic success of young people regardless of their gender, race or socioeconomic background. Students that have these relationships tend to be more interested in class, have stronger GPAs, and generally have a more positive experience in school. You can see then why we thought these relationships were so important as a foundation for Along.

There are five elements to developmental relationships — and each one plays a key role in developing a connection between teachers and students. Take a look below to learn more about how each element has a curated collection of resources in Along and how they pave the way for deeper bonds for mentors and teachers alike.

Express Care

This element is all about showing students that they matter. Every time a teacher checks in with a student through Along, they’re developing a relationship based on this foundational principle. In our Express Care collection, we’ve put together reflection questions that ask students to share their thoughts on the people in their lives, their feelings, their traditions, and much more. When teachers discover what a student thinks and feels, they’re living out one of the most important parts of mentoring: They’re listening.

Challenge Growth

One way that a mentor changes a student’s life is to show them what they’re capable of. This is what this element focuses on: pushing students to keep getting better and encouraging them to reach their full potential. The Challenge Growth collection shows students that teachers are looking out for their future and that they see much more in them than a letter grade. 

Want to get a feel for this collection? Here’s a classroom activity that challenges students to think about goals from a growth mindset.

Provide Support

This element highlights the importance of guiding students as they learn to complete tasks, achieve goals, and navigate hard situations. It’s about filling a young person with confidence, resilience, and the knowledge that a step backwards isn’t the end of the road. This is exactly what an effective mentorship looks like — a pillar of support through the good times and the bad. To strengthen this aspect of your connection, visit the Provide Support collection; here’s a good teacher resource to get started.

Share Power

This element emphasizes the all-important role of respect. Get students thinking about collaboration and involve them in decisions by asking for their opinion in Along. The Share Power collection shows students that you want to hear what they really think. Is there anything more empowering than that? 

You can also check out this Edutopia article that shares ideas on how to give students a say in what happens in the classroom. 

Expand Possibilities

Any teacher or mentor will tell you that one of the best parts of this role is showing students how to dream big and move toward their future. This element does just that — it’s about connecting students with the world outside and broadening their horizons. The Expand Possibilities collection encourages students to reflect on things beyond the day-to-day and to see all the possibilities before them. For example, here are two reflection questions from the collection:

When has a small act of care gone a long way in your life? 

If you could go any place in the world that you’ve never been to, where would you go? Why do you want to visit this place?

The more teachers encourage big picture thinking, the more the world opens up before a student.

Whether you’re hoping to bring more mentorship into your teaching or more teaching into your mentorship, we hope you find the Along tool to be a helpful partner. And remember — it’s not just students who can use mentorship. You can also use the above elements to support fellow educators on their career journey. If you’d like more strategies for teacher mentoring, check out this Edutopia article for helpful ideas.

We wish you an inspiring National Mentoring Month and thank you for playing this all-important role to the students in your life.