Khadija, Sunainah, Damilola, Jodie, Noor - Projects at Dean Trust Ardwick

It’s fantastic to hear that these project leaders share great ideas, advice and encouragement via their WhatsApp group. Well done for supporting each other and improving your sessions through communication and collaboration!

Briony Nesbitt, Redlands, Y5 Boys 
To make sure that mentees see comments she has written on their work, Briony tells mentees that she has put a shark sticker next to the work she was most impressed with. Mentees love searching for the shark!

Sunainah Khan, Dean Trust Ardwick, Y9 Girls

Mentors and mentees enjoyed the pyramid cup challenge and used plenty of staying power and self-control.

Aim: To make the tallest paper cup pyramid.
Challenge: Work as a team to move the cups using only elastic bands attached to string!

Anum Ahmad, Y7, Bridge

Anum has introduced a fantastic reward system.
Mentees receive points for displaying character strengths:
6 points = Bronze Champion
12 points = Silver Champion
18 points = Gold Champion

When a mentee reaches one of these stages Anum tells her school contact how well they're doing. Mentees have a tracking sheet so they know how they are doing.

It’s a great idea to give mentees the opportunity to achieve positive feedback to school and fantastic that Anum is encouraging mentees to be motivated to show their character strengths through praise and encouragement!

Khadija Mannan, Year 9, Dean Trust Ardwick

Khadija got her sports coach involved in the session by giving a careers talk!

Mentees were really interested in his education and career journey and it was great for them to hear about sport apprenticeships. The group listened attentively and asked thoughtful questions.

Jamie Day, Year 8, Regents High School

Jamie’s group used staying power and growth mind-set to improve at the times table challenge.

They tried the same challenge two weeks apart. With encouragement to really focus on staying power, most mentees significantly improved their score!

It’s great to give mentees the opportunity to improve by repeating a challenge and allowing them to see their improvements and recognise these. Jamie went round to congratulate all of his mentees individually.

Indy Lekan-Alabi, Y5&6, Wellington Primary

Indy’s group did a great drama activity based on using character in real life situations. Groups of mentees were given a scenario and acted out how they would use their character strengths to respond to the situation.

Example: A girl is on her own at a Birthday party, what do you do?

Mentees enjoyed the acting and it really helped them to link character to their everyday lives.

Leonie Arden, Y8, Newman College

Leonie’s group created character strength superheroes; here's an example, created by mentee Mohammed:

Name: “General Good Judgement”

Superpower: to change people’s bad decisions
Other: He drives a “fair Ferrari”, has different features on his arms which help him to be a superhero, 
including being thoughtful, balanced, fair and wise.  

Mentees presented to the group and had really thought about the character strengths.

Jodie , Y8, Dean Trust Ardwick

Jodie gave mentees the chance to use good judgement and staying power by creating a maze that mentees guided each other though whilst blindfolded!

This also encouraged mentees to develop a supportive attitude towards each other.

Helen Cotrill, Y6, St Chrysostom's C of E Primary School

Helen challenged her mentees with a game that was likely to have an outcome that mentees found unfair, allowing them to demonstrate fairness, self-control and staying power!

Have a read of the instructions here.

Olena Borodyna, Y6, Netley Primary School

Olena has a fantastic approach to dealing with challenging behaviour in her group. She reflects on each session and identifies ways to promote positive behaviour such as:
  • Awarding stars to add to a chart for showing good behaviour and character strengths.
  • Using referral info to develop specific strategies for mentors to use with the most challenging mentees.
  • Using a traffic light system to make it clear to mentees when they are doing the right thing.
Well done for continually trying new strategies to promote positive behaviour and character strengths!

Kirsten Dunne, Y7, Coop Academy Failsworth

She has shown excellent resilience and adaptability juggling challenging issues with group dynamics whilst also doing her university exams. Kirsten refocused her group with a great visual activity asking mentees to relate pictures to the ReachOut values and character strengths – using visuals can help prompt new ideas and ways of thinking.

Careers and aspirations, tip 2

A couple of our London projects have delivered careers and University activities in a speed-dating format.
  • Mentors are seated, one on each table
  • Mentees chat with a mentor for 3 minutes and ask 2 questions
  • Once the 3 minutes are up, mentees move to speak to the next mentor
This is a great activity to get a feel for what your mentees are interested in and it's a good opportunity to see who could deliver an inspirational presentation like Lisa did at Failsworth!

Careers and aspirations, tip 1

At our Failsworth Year 9 Girls project last week, mentor Lisa delivered an inspiring presentation to the mentees. 

Lisa explained how she started as an apprentice in a kitchen and worked her way up until she served the queen!

Mentee's were completely engaged and asked some fantastic questions after the presentation.

Find out if any of your mentors could be suitable for a presentation and ask if they want to deliver in one of the sessions. 

Positive debates, tip 2

Give mentees a list of suggestions for how they can start their sentence when having a positive argument. Ask them to use phrases such as:

  • That’s a good point, however…
  • In my opinion…
  • On the other hand…

Ask mentees to practice with their mentor using these phrases and positive body language.

The aim isn't to win the argument, but to use good judgement in phrasing their points in a positive way.

Positive debates, tip 1

Choose three topics for debate - examples could include:

  • What's the best ice cream flavour?
  • What’s better, an Xbox or Playstation?
  • Should students wear school uniform?
Working in their mentor/mentee pairing, they each choose one side of the argument and talk about it for 1 minute - during this time the other person is not allowed to interrupt or react. 

The activity allows for great practice of self-control and fairness and also gets the mentee's really thinking about topics they may be passionate about. 

Dami Matte, Dean Trust Adrwick, Y8 Boys

At the start of the session, Dami introduced the character strength by handing out varying amounts of sweets to each mentor and mentee. She then asked them to see how many everyone had and describe how they felt about this.

It was great to see how the mentees understood Fairness using something as simple as sharing sweets evenly.

Bridge School, Y8 Boys

Try giving mentors a red pen to mark as mentees work, they can: 

  • Correct spelling
  • Add positive comments
  • Tick correct answers

This can give mentors a more active role in giving feedback to their mentees and help you with marking at the same time!

Helen Cottrill, St. Chrysostom’s School, Y6

Helen used really creative ways to gain the groups attention throughout her session by:

  • Clapping a song, then the group repeated it back
  • Stamping her foot once, saying "stamp once if you can hear me" 

Choose an action that the group needs to repeat and once they're all copying you, you're sure you've got their attention!

Kirsty Bartlett, Armitage CofE School, Y6

Want a competitive aspect in your session...?

Mentees used self control and staying power to make origami frogs and then fairness and good judgement to race them against their mentors.

It’s a great idea to link a craft activity into a game that uses what you’ve made!

Lucie Collins, Cayley, Y5 Girls

Want to show character in careers...?

Lucie used the Story of Marie Curie to engage mentees in recognising how an inspirational figure used character strengths throughout her life to overcome many challenges.

For more great ideas from Lucie follow her on Instagram: @lucie_resources

Indy Lekan - Alabi, Wellington Y6 Boys

Want mentees to show good character over Christmas...?
Indy wants to empower her mentees to use their character strengths over Christmas so they came up with examples:

- Good judgement by donating to a food bank
- Fairness by asking their parents how they could help them
- Self control by donating some of the money they are given to charity

Ayulie Dabor, Carlton Primary School Y6 Boys 

Need inspiration or advice? Visit another project…

Well done Ayulie for your proactive approach to making your own project even better! Get in touch with your PO if you would like to visit another project; you may be surprised how many new ideas you come away with!

Ayulie has been visiting other Club and Academy projects in his spare time to experience projects from a mentor's point of view. He's picked up lots of ideas for structuring his sessions, transitioning between activities and managing behaviour.

Hannah Bennett, The Petchey Academy Y10 Boys
Want to make good judgement more tangible?
Hannah created a fantastic character activity involving decisions/judgements when you don't have the full information and how you're likely to jump to conclusions. 

Creating an active game around decision making and using props really helped mentees appreciate how important good judgement is.

Check out the full activity here.

If you have an activity that you think others would benefit from then send it over to a PO.

Khadija Mannan, Dean Trust Ardwick Y9 Boys 
Need support or ideas? Ask another Project Leader…

Khadija stepped in to cover for another Project Leader to ensure the session went ahead at Oasis Academy, Oldham. Thank you Khadija!

This is not the only way to help other Project Leaders, if you have a great activity or idea then let others know or send it to a PO to be shared more widely. Get together to share resources, plan a social or visit another project to see what ideas you can pick up.

Hanna Haizal, Redlands Primary Year 6 Girls Project

Want to fit your social around mentors’ busy schedules? Make it early…

Hanna's mentors often have to rush off at 5pm so she arranged to meet up for coffee and cake before the session!

Mentors enjoyed the chance to catch up and it was a relaxed atmosphere where nobody was in a rush to be anywhere else.

Socials don’t always have to follow the session, ask your mentors what works best for them!

Damilola Matte, DTA Year 8 Boys
Want to get your mentees motivated to set goals? Make them achievable…

It can be a big motivation to share achievements with their mentors so goals must be  demonstratable for the next session, for example:
  • Offer to help one person a day.
  • Get five positive behavior points.
  • Have 100% punctuality at registration.  
Weekly goals help your mentees achieve their overall goal for the year, so make them SMART!

Jamie Day, Regents Primary Year 7 Boys Project

Want to improve your mentees understanding of character strengths? Make them visual...

Jamie had the four character strengths written on the board throughout his session. He wrote 5 key behaviours mentees could focus on to demonstrate the character strengths.
This provides lots of opportunity for positive praise and to “catch them being good”. Check the Behaviour Management Pocketbook page 63 for more on that technique!

Bianca Nsiah, Rolls Crescent Year 6 Project

Need a quick game that mentors and mentees can get involved in after the academic work?
Splat requires self-control and fairness and it's a game loved by both mentors and mentees. Bianca used it as a quick reward after the group had worked hard on their academic work.

A quick game that can be played at the end of the academic part of the session is always great, especially on Academy as a nice way to finish the session before mentors head off.

Laura Bradnam, Jubilee Primary Year 6 Girls Project

Want to engage mentees? Try theming your session…
Laura's group love superheroes so she themes her sessions around it, and so far the following games have been a hit:
  • Superhero charades
  • Design your own superhero
  • Superhero code quiz
  • Superhero amnesia

You can adapt games and activities to any theme. Get in touch with Laura if you’d like to hear more about the games and activities that she's used!

Jodie Gow, Dean Trust Ardwick Year 8 Girls Project 

Want to bring character strengths into a team game? Try the balloon chair challenge…

Jodie asked her group to focus on fairness by making sure every team member was involved, and also staying power by trying different methods for making the chair.

Make sure character is included in any team challenge activity by:
  • Telling mentees the character strengths you want to see.
  • Briefing mentors to praise the character strengths that are used.
  • Making the winner of the game the team who demonstrates character strengths the best.
Any team challenge can become a character activity when you focus on teams using the character strengths.

Shcara Strudley Smith - Regent High School, Year 7 Girls project

To create an effective routine for the start of each session, Shcara decided on a seating plan.

  • Shcara sent the seating plan to mentors in advance.
  • Mentors arrived and sat in the correct place with their mentee’s folder.
  • Mentees knew where to go when they entered the room, so they sat down and caught up with their mentor.

This is an easily implemented strategy, whatever stage of the project you're at. It works well to re-establish your expectations with the group and improves both behaviour and time management.

Khadija Mannan - The Dean Trust Ardwick, Year 9 Boys Project

To engage her mentees in their work on linear equations Khadija used skittles as counters to play the Monopoly game.

This strategy works with more than just sweets; bringing in props can really engage mentees in the academic part of the session.

It’s a good idea to look a few sessions ahead in the worksheets so that you have time to develop ideas as to what you might use.

Indy Lekan-Alabi -  Wellington, Year 5 & 6 Girls project

Indy used a great getting to know you game called the string game.

  • Indy asked all mentees and mentors to stand in a circle.
  • Someone stated a fact about themselves and everyone who had that in common put their hand up.
  • The ball of string was passed to each person with a hand up who held on to the string and passed the ball on.
  • This results in a spider’s web of string which showed all the connections between people in the group.

This is a good game for any point during the project as it can be used to show the group all the things they have in common that they might not realise!