As the school year comes to a close, some of you are preparing to end your Check & Connect mentoring relationship. This may be due to a natural ending such as transition to middle or high school or graduation from high school, or it may be that the student has experienced enough progress to be exited from Check & Connect. In any case, anticipated or planned endings call for preparation to bring the mentoring relationship to a close. This blog post shares some ideas for closing the mentoring relationship.
It’s helpful to think about Check & Connect mentoring relationships in terms of Keller’s developmental phases of relationship.
Stages of Relationship Development (Keller, 2005)
If you’re preparing to end the mentoring relationship, you’ve probably already progressed through the relationship stages:
contemplation (considering what your mentee and mentor-mentee relationship will be like),
initiation (meeting your mentee and building rapport), and
growth and maintenance (the bulk of the relationship – getting to know the student, developing trust, and working together) (Keller, 2005).
There may have been some natural decline in the frequency and duration of formal connect meetings with students, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The goal of Check & Connect is to build student capacity so that the student is not dependent on the mentor, but is able to take ownership of his/her behavior, learning, choices, and school success.
Now, as you prepare for closure, you are entering the dissolution and redefinition stages. Here are some ideas for helping your Check & Connect mentees leave Check & Connect smoothly.
Ideas for preparing for a planned ending, such as graduation, the end of the school year, or the end of a student’s time in Check & Connect
Acknowledge the end date well in advance.
Schedule the last formal meeting so that the student knows when the last time you will meet one-on-one will be.
Plan for the final meeting. What will you discuss? What will you do? Will you give the mentee anything? Will you use the same agenda and activities for your final meeting with each student?
Schedule a group closure activity/graduation.
Complete a reflection questionnaire together. Include such questions as: “What have you learned?” “How will what you’ve learned translate to next year? To life after high school? How can you use what you’ve learned in middle school? In high school? In college? In your career?”
Reflect back on progress made over the course of the student’s time in C&C.
Acknowledge specific areas of progress and growth that you’ve observed in your mentee since they first started in C&C.
Recognize challenges that your mentee has faced and/or overcome.
Facilitate future goal setting
Set goals for next year.
Set goals for life after high school.
Ask your mentee to identify the support system and resources that will support achievement of those goals.
Discuss natural mentors the student can connect with in their next setting.
Encourage your mentee to continue on the journey of his/her life as a lifelong learner.
Hold a group closure event, celebration, or /graduation
This could be informal like a picnic to which students and their families are invited, or a formal ceremony where certificates of completion are handed out.
The mentor and mentee may swap an item or souvenir to remind them of the positive experience they shared.
Take a picture together! Email or print the photo.
Include parents in the closure process
Share the student’s progress/successes with his/her parents.
Share the student’s future goals with his/her parents.
Clarify the terms of the relationship between the mentor and mentee upon closure of formal mentoring.
Will the relationship continue by email? Phone? Facebook? In person? Are there policies in your district/organization about keeping in contact with students under 18?
Will you initiate contact with the student after closure?
Will you share contact information and encourage the student to contact you?
Tip: Be conservative when making commitments about future contact in order to avoid disappointment.
Keller, T. E. (2005). The stages and development of mentoring relationships. In D. L. DuBois and M. J. Karcher (Eds.), Handbook of youth mentoring (pp. 82-99). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.