Office of Strategic Partnerships
Mentoring Tips

Checklist for day of mentoring:

  • Contact school before going
  • Sign in at office
  • Spend at least 30 minutes with mentee
  • Sign out at office
  • Log hours on CMS volunteer site

Qualities of a Successful Mentor

  • Ability to accept different points of view
  • Accessibility
  • Consistency
  • Flexibility and openness
  •  Kindness and patience
  • Persistence
  •  Personal commitment
  • Respect for youth
  • Sense of humor
  • Willingness to listen
  • Willingness to share life experiences

A Mentor should not play the role of a. . . .

  • Doctor or nurse
  • Financier
  • Legal guardian
  • Parent
  • Priest or minister
  • Probation officer
  • Professional counselor
  • Social worker


A priority for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ volunteer program is to ensure student safety in the school environment, and volunteer screenings are a key component.


Before visiting discuss your regular visiting time with your mentee, it is important that the time be a good time for both of you, to ensure your work schedule and their required class schedule are not negatively impacted. If possible, make it the same time every week. On the day you plan to visit your mentee, you should contact the school to ensure the student is present before driving to the school.


Mentoring is not easy. It can be difficult establishing a relationship with a mentee, especially if that individual has had poor relationships in the past. You may encounter challenges and this is normal. It is important that you seek assistance, rather than giving up. Many of your peer volunteers may have had the same challenges; you can always reach out to them or a school captain for assistance. Difficult Circumstances
Many students in CMS schools may have serious and difficult situations in their home life situations. If you become aware of some problem or abuse taking place or any other information regarding a situation you may not be equipped to handle, it is important that you reach out to your school contact or school captain. They are here to support you in these types of situations.

Getting to Know Your Student

  • Be certain that you and your student know what name you would each to be called
  • Refrain from judging and making assumptions
  •  Be willing to share your own life experiences – successes and failures
  • Tell your student why you want to be a Mentor
  • Explain the confidentiality policy with the student (i.e. what you will not tell others and what you must tell others)
  • Find experiences/interest that you and your student have in common
  • Talk about less personal things in the beginning
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Discuss expectations you each have of your relationship
  • Make a list of activities you might want to do together ( On site or follow site policies for off site activities)

Communication Skills

  • Eliminate personal, physical and psychological barriers
  • Acknowledge listening with responses or body motion
  • Exercise emotional control
  • Refrain from making extreme statements
  • Maintain soft eye contact
  • Listen without giving approval or offering solutions
  • Ensure that you understand what is said or felt
  • Respond in your own natural way
  • Encourage dialogue if you need more information
  • Look for other clues such as tone of voice, facial expression, or gestures
  • Listen for ideas and feelings, not just for facts

Recognize Learning Styles

One way to frame learning styles is to talk about learners in terms of: Auditory, Visual and Tactile/Kinesthetic

Auditory Learner

How to spot one:  tells jokes, tells interesting stories, knows all the words to songs, remembers names and not faces, talks constantly, interrupts, willingly contributes to conversation.

How to teach one:  teach him/her to talk through tasks, encourage him/her to spell out loud, play rhyming games, provide audiotapes and record lessons, pair him/her with a visual learner, create study groups

Visual Learner

How to spot one:  likes to look at books/pictures, loves to look at orderly things, finds objects other have lost, sees details, find place in a book readily, likes to work puzzles, watches the teacher’s face for cues, remembers faces and forgets names, has difficulty understanding oral directions

How to teach one:  give visual directions and demonstrations, play matching games, provide charts and graphs, use maps and map legends, color code information, use dictionaries, teach with rulers and number lines, make flashcards

Tactile/Kinesthetic Learner

How to spot one:  explores environment, needs concrete objects as learning aids, like to be physically close to others, wants to touch/feel everything, enjoys doing things with hands, writes everything out, moves constantly

How to teach one:  use manipulative, use writing, write on large surfaces like chalkboards and sidewalks, allow movement during learning, take frequent movement breaks, and provide concrete objects for counting/sequencing/categorizing, break things into steps/stages

Mentoring English as a Second Language (ESL)

ESL students vary widely in their English proficiency and their knowledge of America cultural norms, depending upon a multitude of factors:

  • Their length of time in US
  • Their proficiency in reading and writing their native language
  • Their parents’ social status and level of education in their home country

While it is good to learn as mush as we can about other cultures, it is important to keep in mind that there is a lot of variation within and between groups.  It is best to avoid making assumptions and to treat each child as a unique individual.

Use a translator if student is not proficient in English.  Check to be sure the student understands you speak slower and more clearly, not louder.  Avoid using slang and idiomatic expressions. Help the student understand American cultural norms by asking about their culture and discussing similarities and differences with American culture


P.O. Box 30035
Charlotte, NC 28230-0035
Phone: 980-343-3000
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools website ( is in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Any website accessibility concerns may be brought via the following, Email the Web Accessibility Team at WebAccessibility or Call: 980.343.0115. In compliance with Federal Law, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools administers all education programs, employment activities and admissions without discrimination against any person on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Inquiries regarding compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities, may be referred to the District's Title IX Coordinator at titleixcoordinator or to the Office for Civil Rights, United States Department of Education.