Academic Growth

Ashley, a middle school student, recently wrote to her mentor, Brian, upon wrapping up a recent science project. “I just wanted to say thank you for everything,” writes Ashley. “I really appreciate all the ideas you gave me, especially in the beginning when we were deciding on projects. The amount of things I learned was astounding!” Ashley goes on to talk about her project methodology, to offer a critique on the clarity of her past communications and to bring up some interesting facts she has learned about bees, such as that they will actually kill off other bees. “But most importantly,” writes Ashley, “I learned the importance of keeping on top of projects…I had to be responsible and remember to email you whatever I had finished working on shortly after it was finished.” She details several key elements of her approach she would do differently going forward (keep her mentor more informed, email more frequently, avoid procrastination, be more prepared, and identify what’s in email attachments more clearly). “I know now that I can’t expect everyone to know everything that I’m talking about,” she writes. Judging from her email, she’s already communicating and articulating her thoughts on a much higher level than before. “Ashley’s post-project email is a great example of the realizations that students have as they move through the student-mentor process,” says David Neils, director of the International Telementor Program. “Having a mentor, she was able to reflect on her learning and going forward, she’ll have a different experience. She thought long and hard about her process and has become a more aware student capable of and ready for deeper learning,” he says. “In these times where mile-wide, inch-deep learning is often the norm, this sort of student-to-mentor communication is a beautiful thing to see.”

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