Managing a session can be confronting, primarily if you've never mentored before. This article will provide you with support and information on best practices for:

1️⃣ Before your session

2️⃣ Preparation & rapport building

3️⃣ Start of the session

4️⃣ During the session

5️⃣ Time management

6️⃣ Concluding a session

7️⃣ After a session

1️⃣ BEFORE YOUR SESSION

Ask questions and Set Goals

Before you meet your student, use the Vygo in-app chat to ask the student about their goals. For example, you could ask "how can I best help and what would you like to achieve during our session?" or "what are your three key problem areas?". The student's answer will help you prepare yourself for the session.

Book an Area

Consider booking a table at the agreed meeting place well in advance, and make sure you read up on the relevant subject matter to remind yourself of the content.

 Prepare your student

 Ask the student to come prepared - e.g. bring the relevant textbook, assignment worksheet, practice exam, etc.

💬 COMMUNICATION TIPS  💬

Be responsive 

Respond to student questions and session requests as soon as possible! Your student will feel confident that you are dependable even before you meet.

2️⃣ PREPARATION AND RAPPORT BUILDING

Think of an academic mentoring session the same way you think about a job interview

Arrive Early. 

Arrive at your arranged meeting place or video call room 5-10 minutes before the session is due to start. 

Prepare for your session

Set up your workspace with paper, pens and any other equipment you think may be useful (calculator, textbook, etc.). Also, make sure you have enough battery power on your mobile phone or laptop, so you can contact your student and record your session duration.

Rapport Building 

Get to know the student in a professional but friendly way. Welcome the student and consider sharing information about the degree you are taking, and vice versa. Building rapport helps you communicate and personalise the session. It also makes the interaction more comfortable for you both.

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Eye contact and smiling (where appropriate) are great non-verbal cues that will show your student that you are present and engaged.

Maintain a respectful and proper physical distance when talking or demonstrating.

Be a professional – don't look at your phone or social media during your session.

3️⃣  START OF A SESSION 

Session Duration 

Remind the student about the amount of time you have for your session. 

Plan Session 

Align on the best use of the time by asking your student to reiterate their goals for the session. Once the student's goals are defined, offer suggestions on how to break up the time to achieve these. 

Example. "I would like you to walk away from this session, feeling confident about how to approach these types of questions. Do you think spending 20 minutes on each question would be a good use of the time?"

Note. If you feel the student expectations are unrealistic or constitute academic misconduct, provide alternative suggestions.

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Encourage your student by nodding your head or gesturing that you are listening and following your student's thoughts.

Avoid fidgeting or becoming impatient when your student is working through a problem. Sometimes a full minute of silence transpires while your student is attempting an answer. Stay present and patient.

4️⃣ DURING A SESSION

The goal of academic mentoring is not to do your student's work for them; instead, encourage your student to derive the answer themselves.   

Ask open-ended questions

This process helps the student to reveal their errors and feel guided towards solutions. For example, you could ask the student to compare their work to a textbook example.  Questions can revolve around the student's problem, process, approach or answer. 

Examples:

• "How did you get to this answer? Can you walk me through the steps you took?"

• "What do you notice when you compare this example and your outcome?"

• "Let's go over the steps you took... Does it still make sense?"

Personalise the questions/examples

Another useful tip is to personalise the examples you create when explaining a concept – this helps the student anchor the lesson in an area of interest or strength. 

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Encourage where appropriate, but do not guarantee that your student will achieve a particular grade or academic outcome. Here is an example of appropriate encouragement: "It looks like you've got the hang of it. Would you like to practice this again, or are you feeling confident with this equation?"

Don't be condescending or negative towards your student – confidence is everything! If they are struggling, try to empathise and help them navigate through their problem.

Don't make up answers! It's okay to say you don't know the answer to something. If this occurs, refer your student to an appropriate resource.

When providing positive feedback, focus on the student's efforts, rather than outcomes.

5️⃣ TIME MANAGEMENT

Keep track of your session time 

To ensure your student's session goals will be achieved, ensure you check in ten to fifteen minutes before the session concludes. Consider asking: "Would you prefer to continue working on this for the final 10 minutes, or move on to the next question?"


💬 COMMUNICATION TIPS  💬

Don't Rush

Even if you are stuck on a problem for a while, don't rush your session. Communicate to your student that you most likely will not get all of your session goals and objectives finished. It is best to suggest that the student book another session or contact their lecturer for further help.

Stay positive 

Keep positive throughout your session. The empathy that you can show to your students is what makes peer learning so great.

6️⃣ CONCLUDING A SESSION

Ask Questions 

When your session ends, we recommend that you ask the student the following questions:

1️⃣  "Can you give me an overview of what was covered during the session today?"

2️⃣ "Are you feeling more confident with the areas you were concerned about before the session?"

3️⃣ "Is it okay if I contact you again, in-app to check on your progress?"

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It can be helpful and reassuring to remind the student that they can book another session if they require more help later?

7️⃣  AFTER A SESSION

Send a recap message 

Send your student a message in-app, summarising the areas covered during the session, and provide any relevant additional information. 

Here is an example message you can send:

"Hi Jess,

Thanks for the session, we got through a lot! Here is a summary of what we went through: A, B, C.

Let me know if you would like another session. I am available at the same time next Thursday or Friday."

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