We define micro-mentoring as an intentional pairing of a mentor and mentee for between one and three sessions focused on a very specific topic or skill.
What is Micro-Mentoring?
Deep mentoring relationship that potentially stretch over years are terrific opportunities for support and leadership growth, but micro-mentoring has distinct benefits that can complement and enhance the more “traditional” models of longer-term commitments.
In the past, the logistical challenges of identifying mentors and mentees and matching them appropriately restricted the implementation of micro-mentoring programs. Today, with Torace, such program can be implemented with ease, unlocking a variety of benefits that come with shorter commitments but more frequent opportunities.
Support DEI initiatives by increasing access to mentoring relationships that don’t rely on how well-connected an individual's network is
Build communities across sites and enhance staff understanding and interest in sites other than their own
Encourage engagement with particular initiatives or focus areas
Promote a culture of continuous learning by giving experienced staff an opportunity to build skills in specific areas
Extend leadership opportunities to interested staff who have specific expertise in areas of interest to others
Spread out the workload by not always tapping the same “super mentors” for everything, and allow others to grow their leadership skills
Types of Micro-Mentoring Programs
Because Torace allows programs to customize the pools in which mentors and mentees can be matched, Micro-Mentoring programs can be structured in a wide variety of ways to meet a lot of different objectives. For instance:
Short-term interventions around a specific topic or initiative like SEL, can pair those with prior experience or training with staff seeking support on implementation
Personalized professional development plans can be supported by allowing staff to pick a cluster of micro events around specifics topics that are of interest to them or that have been identified as strength or growth areas
One-off supports can be quickly implemented on emerging issues, concerns or community priorities
“Speed mentoring” can increase the number of connections and opportunities to create longer-term organic mentoring relationships
Informational interviews can help connect staff interested in grow-your-own programing to folks at other sites to learn about roles in new contexts
Three Basic Models and Some Use Cases
Mentors and mentees meet once, either virtually or in-person. The session can be structured to include some pre- and post-reflection or follow-up, depending on the objectives. There are multiple use-cases for single-session programing. For instance:
Encourage informational interviews about roles, departments or sites for those considering career moves
Expand professional networks, and bring fresh perspectives to the work
Bring attention and focus to narrowly defined topic areas
You can run multiple single-session "events" to create more connections between staff and tap into multiple areas of expertise. If you have a limited number of experts in a particular area, multiple mentees can be paired with each expert to form small group coaching sessions.
Mentors and mentees meet twice, either virtually, in-person or one of each. The program can be structured to can include some pre and post reflection or follow-up. The two-session format provides an opportunity to include an activity or email touchpoint between the two meetings. These middle activities can vary depending on the topic, objectives of the mentoring or other intuitional factors, but can include the mentee:
Designing a plan, getting email feedback from the mentor and executing the plan before the next session
Taking action steps and reporting by email for feedback before the next session
Creating a work product for feedback that can be implemented before the next session (for instance an email communication to families, an analysis of student data and a differentiated lesson plan, etc.)
A program with a three meeting structure can include different blends of virtual or in-person sessions. These provide the opportunity for two feedback touchpoints between the sessions. Because three meetings allow for some specific action steps between the meetings as well as reflection and follow-up, they are useful to:
Deepen engagement with topics where feedback on work products would be helpful to build confidence and expertise in between the two live sessions (lesson planning, differentiating activities, etc.)
Promote shared reflection with the second meeting as well as support identifying action steps or additional ways to progress
Provide more time for diagnosing the problems or identifying focus areas (useful when your development areas are broadly defined)
Allow for a quick session of meetings that aren't centered around a work product but where immediate feedback and reflection may be most helpful (for instance classroom management, family engagement, etc.)
Of course, it is possible to create programs with more than three sessions! But at some point we move from Micro-Mentoring to "regular" mentoring. What is most important is to use a structure and definition that make the most sense for your context.
The following are links to sample program support templates. If you are using Torace to facilitate the logistics of your matching, you will have the ability to instantly notify your mentor-mentee matches of their pairings via email and can include a custom message with that notification. You can include a link to your own support materials, or link to one of the conversation guides below in your notification message.
Please Note: You will be required to enter your email to access these documents. Torace will not send you spam. If you aren't already in our system at the time of your first download you may be asked for your email twice. These guides are intended for use by mentoring programs and their participants. They are not for resale or commercial use.