Comfort Zones

Comfort-Zone1I’ve been very fortunate to co-facilitate a mentor program for high school students for several years.I LOVE this work because I get to stay connected to young people (my kids are adults!) and grand kids are still toddlers.  The program, Talent Development Mentor Program (TDMP) requires students to take responsibility for their learning; for many this is a new concept.  Most classes offer a “to-do” checklist with points attached to each item.

TDMP is more like the work environment rather than the typical classroom.Instruction is delivered in all skills “professional” and students are supported to apply the skills. Instead of a check list with attached points, grading is based on a performance review process … self-review, teacher review and mentor review (each student ultimately finds a mentor). The process is instruction and practice.By the end of 18 weeks, many students acknowledge that this is the best class they have taken.They share that they have a new “comfort zone” (the one they started with has been significantly stretched).

A few weeks ago, I facilitated an orientation session for the students and parents where we offered an overview of the program, set expectations and offered networking instruction … and students got to practice with peers.At the end of the evening, we asked each student to choose an image that reflected where they were at the moment … this is always revealing.

Using images allowed students to express what the heart says rather than only the head.As facilitators, we are able to tailor the program to this unique group based on what is expressed rather than create a generic program. We gain a greater sense of who is in the group and where the comfort zones fall.Some are excited, others overwhelmed and yet more puzzled.Knowing your audience serves very well.This expression by students allows us to know them a deeper level so that we can offer the best service.The biggest reward is watching the comfort zones expand as they learn.


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