Why a Mentoring Program?
Close your eyes and place yourself back into your 7th, 8th, or 9th grade self. You have finally gotten the courage to try something new. You heard that the high school is finally allowing middle school students to join the cross-country team and you would like to join. Sure, you have run the mile in gym class for the past few years or even possibly run in some fun 1-mile runs with your parents, but this is the big time. You show up the first day, and you quickly find the several other middle school students that you know for comfort. The Coach introduces himself, but no one else approaches to greet you. You begin practice and it seems as though everyone knows what they are doing except you, and you are too embarrassed to ask for help. Your middle school friends and yourself feel left out, disconnected and unimportant. This goes on for several weeks. You struggle through practice everytime and ask yourself, is this sport really for me?
How would this make you feel?
This is the exact reason why I am creating a peer-mentoring program among my cross-country team.
Elaine Allensworth, the director of the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research says, “That first year is especially powerful, because it’s the time students are developing their mindsets about whether they belong and can succeed.” Among secondary education students, peer mentoring can help develop social-emotional skills, it can give them a sense of responsibility for and accountability to each other, and has the potential to create relationships important to young people that may otherwise ignore adults as a result of defiance (Gewertz, 2017; Blad, 2017).
I am proposing to develop a peer mentoring program with the middle and high school runners in regards to their physical performance and behavior to make this transition as smooth as possible. This program will not only help the middle school children understand what type of behavior, skills, and work ethic are expected, but more importantly, what it feels like to be a member of a community. I want to create a program that increases comradery, trust and love amongst my team. It is my goal to turn a large group of diverse runners into a cross-country family.
What is Peer Mentoring?
Peer mentoring is a specific type of informal mentoring where all of the veteran runners are responsible for any new participants. This allows for relationships to naturally occur as opposed to assigning a mentor to a mentee. All veteran participants will be responsible to participate in a mentoring seminar put on by the head coach that will involve team building exercises, team expectations, open mentoring discussions, and individual and team based goal setting.
Below are two links for the formal proposal of the program as well as a framework paper that includes all research done.