This is an archived version of the Virtual Volunteering Project web site from January 2001.
The materials on the web site were written or compiled by Jayne Cravens.
The Virtual Volunteering Project has been discontinued.
The Virtual Volunteering Project web site IS NO LONGER UPDATED.
Email addresses associated with the Virtual Volunteering Project are no longer valid.
For any URL that no longer works, type the URL into archive.org
.
For new materials regarding online volunteering, see
Jayne Cravens' web site (the section on volunteerism-related resources).
 
 
 
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site manager/teacher involvement:
the critical element to success in
online mentoring programs

Their involvement is absolutely critical to the success of an online mentoring program: site managers, usually teachers, who are onsite with the youth to be mentored.

Online mentoring programs that have boasted the most success and have lasted longer than just a few months have sustained involvement of site managers / teachers throughout the development and maintenance of the program. These site managers / teachers do much more than gather the names of youth participants and provide them to the program coordinator or mentors!

Before you launch an online mentoring program, you must clearly define the expectations of site managers, communicate these expectations, and make sure they are agreed to by all parties. You also need to define the consequences for site managers not meeting these expectations. Without buy-in from site managers, the chances of your online mentoring program becoming long-lasting and showing tangible results are small.

Also, before you launch your online mentoring program, be sure that both you and EVERY individual site evaluate their readiness to involve online mentors.

 
The role of site managers and teachers
in an online mentoring program

Before an online mentoring program officially launches, site managers - those who are onsite with the youth to be mentored - should:

  • Help define the goals of the program and the measurements of success.

  • Provide their own vision for youth and mentor interactions, so that this can be incorporated into the program design.

  • Help identify the tools and resources they will need to support this program and to be supported themselves.

  • Review the tools and resources that are developed to support them in this program, to provide feedback about them and to get used to these materials and tools.

  • Provide guidance for or direct the matching of mentors to students.

  • Participate in the training of youth who will participate in this program, reviewing goals of the program, expectations of youth participating in the program, safety guidelines, and so forth.

  • Interact with mentors for at least three weeks before youth and volunteer mentors are matched and begin online exchanges. In these interactions, they should:

    • Introduce themselves to the mentors

    • Talk about their upcoming onsite program/class work activities or program/school events and how the mentors can help support these activities through their online interactions with youth

    • Provide or reinforce suggestions for online activities with youth in the coming weeks

    • Provide a list of days the program or class will not be in session

    • Invite questions from the mentors

    • Provide any additional information they think will help mentors get off to a good start with youth.

    • Be UPBEAT in their messages, to maintain volunteer mentors excitement about this program.
 
After the program is launched, site managers/teachers should continue interacting regularly with mentors online, and continue their first-hand involvement in the program. They should:
  • Send at least bi-weekly reminders to mentors of upcoming onsite program/class work activities or program/school events and how the mentors can help support these activities through their online interactions with youth.

  • Provide or reinforce to mentors suggestions for online activities with youth in the coming weeks.

  • Promptly identify, investigate and address problems, such as mentors not writing regularly, youth not writing mentors, misunderstandings, and so forth.

  • Have access to mentor and student interactions OR a way to view the dates that e-mails are sent and from whom, without actually seeing e-mail contents, so that they can know how the program is progressing (who is writing regularly and who is not) and address pertinent issues, either individually with a youth or mentor, with all of the mentors via the regularly e-mail updates, or onsite with the youth.

    (NOTE: most online mentoring programs rely on their screening and training of all participants, rather than online monitoring of e-mails, to ensure safety. Many programs consider monitoring e-mail exchanges as a form of electronic "eavesdropping," something that can adversely affect the trust between a mentor and student. The course you take re: site manager or other staff's access to e-mails between mentors and students depends on your program's focus and goals, your organization's culture, and your existing screening techniques.)

  • Provide a regular report to the overall project coordinator about the program that reviews activities that are working well, obstacles and how they are being addressed, program and support needs, learnings that could help in the further development or expansion of the program, success stories, and so forth. These regular reports will be critical to the over-all evaluation of the program.

  • Keep messages UPBEAT and encouraging! Volunteers need to "hear" site managers' enthusiasm about this program, to further maintain and cultivate volunteer mentors excitement about this program.

Site managers may also be in charge of screening and evaluating mentors prior to program participation, or, may approve each message from a mentor before it is read by a student. However, these roles are NOT mandatory to the site manager; in the case of teachers, for instance, the Virtual Volunteering Project strongly recommends that a volunteer or staff person from the sponsoring organization manage these activities instead, so the teacher is free for his or her many other priorities.

(The Virtual Volunteering Project has information on monitoring/supervising online interactions between volunteers and youth, screening and evaluating online volunteers, and other safety guidelines on our web site. See Safety in Online Volunteering Programs for more information.)

 
Training Site Managers and Teachers Online

In the coming months, the Virtual Volunteering Project, as part of our collaboration with the National Mentoring Partnership, will provide suggestions on how online mentoring program coordinators can train site managers, including teachers, online for all of the above activities.

 


 
Information for those who wish to
quote from, copy and/or distribute the information on this Web site

 
If you find this or any other Virtual Volunteering Project information helpful, or would like to add information based on your own experience, please contact us.

If you do use Virtual Volunteering Project materials in your own workshop or trainings, or republish materials in your own publications, please let us know, so that we can track how this information is disseminated.


 

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All Rights Reserved.


 
This is an archived version of the Virtual Volunteering Project web site from January 2001.
The materials on the web site were written or compiled by Jayne Cravens.
The Virtual Volunteering Project has been discontinued.
The Virtual Volunteering Project web site IS NO LONGER UPDATED.
Email addresses associated with the Virtual Volunteering Project are no longer valid.
For any URL that no longer works, type the URL into archive.org
.
For new materials regarding online volunteering, see
Jayne Cravens' web site (the section on volunteerism-related resources).
 

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