Finding a Mentor

A key focus for the Kids Teaching Kids program is to encourage students to connect with others in their community. Building on the learning that has occurred during their own research, students connect with an adult mentor to continue their work. Mentors play an essential part in the Kids Teaching Kids program with students working alongside adults as equals, sharing ideas, knowledge and hopes for the future.

Some schools find it easy to connect with a mentor, with teachers already working with the local council or knowing of members of the school community with an interest in their topic. However, for some teachers, the idea of locating a mentor can seem daunting. Here we’ll go through the art of finding a mentor and important things to consider as you search.

For more information on the mentoring process as a whole check out our Mentor page!

Tip 1: Decide the type of mentor you need

Mentors are there to provide support and offer ideas to the students, helping them understand new information or teaching them a relevant skill. Mentors do not necessarily need to be a traditional expert on the chosen research topic but simply have something to offer the student’s learning. Some schools find it easiest to begin with an expert mentor who is able to come visit the students or facilitate an excursion. The type of mentor you need will determine where to look.

Tip 2: Google is your friend

A quick Google of your students’ topic along with your location can turn up some surprising results. Or search for sustainability education programs in your area or state. Even if your results are exactly what you’re looking for they may provide an idea of where you could find a mentor.

Tip 3: Look for the right person

So you’ve decided you’d like to use a traditional mentor to begin with. When checking out the council or environmental educator websites, keep your eyes peeled for these job titles:

  • Education Officer
  • Waste Project Officer
  • School Program Manager
  • Education Co-ordinator
  • Environmental Education Manager

These individuals are more likely to be able to provide the information you need or point you in the right direction!

Tip 4: Look in your own backyard

Send out an all staff email or a flyer in the newsletter, you never know what knowledge your school already has! Mentoring offers a means by which to invite parents and other school community members into the students learning. For example, a parent with a personal interest in beekeeping can prove a useful source of information for a group to discuss the importance of pollinators. Other teachers in the school can also provide valuable insights into the group’s chosen topic!

Tip 5: Learn the art of the cold call and email

Cold calls and emails can be a great way to connect with organisations who align with your KTK project. This generally works best for community organisations but can also be used to contact businesses who might be able to help your students. At the 2017 Melbourne Water Kids Teaching Kids conference, we were able to hand out Boomerang Bags to our teachers as a take-home gift all thanks to a simple cold email that led to an awesome partnership!

Often organisations, friends of groups and other environmental groups are eager to help schools but are unsure of how to get involved. Try to find an actual person to email rather than the generic office email and be specific about what you’re looking for!

Example of a Cold Email

Dear Anne,

My name is Simon and I am a teacher at Imaginary Heights Secondary College. This year my students are taking part in the Kids Teaching Kids program (check out their website here: www.kidsteachingkids.com.au) and I was looking for some help.

The Kids Teaching Kids program focuses on students learning about an environmental issue and making positive changes in their school and community. My students have decided to focus their research on the Helmeted Honeyeater and the threats it currently faces. I know the Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater focus on protecting this species as well as raising awareness of its plight.

I was wondering if someone from your organisation would be willing to speak with my students about the work you do and possibly provide more information about the species itself. We would love to have someone come to our school to speak with the students or organise a Skype conversation to the same effect.

If this isn’t feasible, could you offer any suggestions for other organisations or individuals who might be able to help out?

Thanks for your help!

Simon Day

Tip 6: Get in touch with KTK

The Kids Teaching Kids team is always here to offer support and ideas! Let us know what you’re hoping to achieve through the mentoring process and we’ll work our hardest to get it happening!