A guest blog from one of Podium’s first Writing Mentors - Unitha:
Mentorships are important because they allow people the opportunity to learn from others who are passionate about their craft and are completely invested in ensuring you learn as much as you can about what you are learning. In my own personal experience with mentorships they often go beyond that initial connection and people build lasting supportive friendships. Through Podium, I have met other students who share my passion for writing and want to see me improve as a writer. Writing mentorships are also important for this same reason; they give students and mentors the chance to learn from each other and improve their writing. Writing mentors are especially important because they provide a continuous learning experience. The mentors are always developing new ways to teach new ideas and make writing fun for everyone while students are learning valuable lessons and are actually in turn teach the mentors about what is most effective when trying to teach a new concept.
I decided to become a writing mentor because over the past year I have truly grown to love Podium and the Podium family. When given the opportunity to be part of the Writing Mentorship Project [link] I saw the chance learn more about writing myself but to also help younger children develop their voice and possibly see writing as a creative outlet.
Over the summer, I have learned a lot while working at Podium. I've had to develop my own workshops. I have also had to learn how to fluidly move between normally taking an active role in a workshop to a passive role in the sense that I've had to step back and let other high school students lead their workshops. That is also one of the many things that is different in terms of being a mentor and being a Podium student. When I attend Podium workshops at my high school, I participate in the activity and the workshop is centered around my needs and what I need to learn. While being a writing mentor, I have had to center my workshops around the needs of the participants by developing workshops that grab their attention while also being informative. I also have had to keep in mind as an intern that not everyone will be so quick to understand a concept. It's important to take time and be able to explain the subject in a way that is easy to understand.
For my own personal and professional growth, I've had to communicate with my co-workers and peers as well as the students. The biggest hurdle for me was trying to remember that I could not always assume that just because I knew what I was talking about didn't mean that everyone else did, too. In terms of other personal skills I learned, I worked on not getting so inside my head while teaching. Students are just as wary of you upon introduction as you are of them, but if you can get over the initial discomfort that comes with new situations you are bound to have a good time.
Overall my mentorship experience was a great one. I was able to accomplish my goal of helping younger students find their voices and got to spend a whole summer doing what I love and working with people who share the same passion for writing.