The LREDA Model of Mentoring
Guidelines and Procedures for Mentoring Partners
This document is for those who are involved in the LREDA mentoring process, whether as a LREDA mentor or as a candidate for UUA credentialing. Its purpose is to set forth the responsibilities of both parties and to tell them where to go for assistance if difficulties arise.
Questions about the LREDA Model of Mentoring can be directed to the Committee on Mentoring members: Cathy Tauscher, Chair; Eva Ceskava; Kathleen Carpenter, and Michelle Richards.
Information about the UUA Religious Education Credentialing Program can be found at www.uua.org/leaders/leaderslibrary/religiouseducation/index.shtml. Specific questions about the program can be addressed to the Religious Education Credentialing Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW ARE LREDA MENTORS CHOSEN?
Mentors are seasoned religious educators. All are members of LREDA who, after a screening for both intent and suitability, have participated in a mentor training. The training helps the potential mentors acquire the skills they need to do this work, and to do it from a distance.
HOW ARE THE MENTORS ASSIGNED?
The LREDA Committee on Mentoring, a group of four individuals who have completed the mentor training, makes the assignments. In addition to possible personal knowledge about the individuals, they use the mentor training applications and part of the credentialing program applications (resumes, personal essay from statement of intent, Endorsement Forms, part of the Profile Review intake information, all received with permission from the candidate) for knowledge about the potential partnerships. LREDA mentors are assigned to candidates who are aspiring to a level the mentor has already achieved
The matching of mentoring partners will occur three times a year, in the fall, winter and spring (approximately October, January and April). Once the potential match is agreed to by the Committee, a Committee member will within two days notify the potential mentor by email. If the potential mentor does not reply within a week, the Committee member will send a second email. If that is not answered, the Committee member will call the potential mentor.
Within one week the potential mentor can accept or reject the match. A member of the Committee informs the director of the UUA Office of Religious Education Credentialing when the match has been made and accepted, and requests that the candidate's application materials be sent to the mentor.
Should the potential match be turned down, for whatever reasons, the Committee on Mentoring will make an alternative match, and the process will be repeated. Once the match has been accepted, a member of the Committee will inform the UUA RE Credentialing Director of the match.
It is LREDA policy that candidates should not be mentored by members of their own congregation, and it is a UUA Office of R.E. Credentialing policy that District staff should mentor candidates from other Districts.
HOW DOES THE MENTORING RELATIONSHIP GET STARTED?
Once the mentor has accepted a match, a member of the Committee will send her/him a "welcome letter" that includes a form for reporting the dates of future meetings. The LREDA mentor then has the responsibility for contacting the candidate. If email does not get a response within a week, s/he should email again. If there is still no response after a second week, the mentor should call the candidate. (Alternately, the mentor can just call the candidate.) The purpose of this first contact is to introduce the mentor to the candidate, to confer on how they will work together, and to set up their first actual meeting.
If the candidate fails to respond within three week's time (including a phone call or voice mail message), the mentor should inform the Committee. The Committee will contact the UUA Religious Education Credentialing Director, and the Director will follow up with the candidate so that either the relationship can commence, the candidate can be reassigned, or other RE Credentialing program arrangements can be made.
Within three weeks of the mentor and the candidate having their initial contact, a formal mentoring session should be scheduled. Once the first mentoring session has taken place, it is important that the mentor inform the UUA Religious Education Credentialing Director and the Committee of the date that the mentoring relationship has begun, in order for accurate records to be maintained.
HOW DOES A MENTORING MEETING WORK?
Mentor partners set up meetings via email or a phone conversation. Both parties are responsible for being available at the appointed time. They should assure that they can give their full attention to their conversation for an hour's time. It is the responsibility of the candidate to call the mentor. Some mentoring partners find it helpful to submit to each other, often by e-mail, agenda items or questions to be addressed during the meeting. It is important that this communication is done with sufficient lead time before the meeting, so each partner has time to fully prepare. It may be helpful for the partnership to covenant to check for and respond to any e-mail from the partner during the week or so before the meeting.
WHAT IS COVERED DURING A MENTORING MEETING?
During the meeting the parties will address topics which advance the end point of credentialing for the candidate. They might set or review goals, brainstorm educational opportunities, discuss the candidate's portfolio or progress on the reading list, share the results on any agreed upon assignments undertaken between meetings, answer questions about the credentialing process, identify issues which need to be addressed by the Office of Religious Education Credentialing, ponder challenges to the credentialing process, or evaluate their own relationship. It is the mentor's job to coach the applicant in these areas, and feedback, especially positive feedback, is often welcomed by the candidate. The mentor is not responsible for helping the candidate resolve job-related challenges or conflicts, except as they impact the goal of becoming credentialed Occasionally a candidate may have the need to vent his/her feeling about an aspect of the credentialing program. The mentor will try to accommodate this need if possible, but both partners must understand that the process for trying to get problems with the credentialing program resolved is by contacting the Religious Education Credentialing Program Director.
WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE MENTOR?
The mentor agrees to work with up to two candidates. The mentor also agrees to be available for a minimum of two years following the training.
The mentor is responsible for the initial contact with the candidate. At the agreed to meeting times, the mentor should be in a space and frame of mind to be fully present for the candidate.
Within a week of its occurrence, the mentor should inform the Religious Education Credentialing Director and the Committee of the date the first formal mentoring meeting. The mentor is responsible for documenting the meetings on the LREDA Mentoring Report Form, which is sent via email to the Mentors with the Welcome Letter at the start of the mentoring relationship and is available on the LREDA website. This form is to be signed by both parties and returned to the Committee on Mentoring and the UUA Office of Religious Education Credentialing in November of each year and also at the time of submission of the candidate's materials to the UUA Office of R.E. Credentialing at program completion. If the candidate misses scheduled meetings with the mentor for more than two months in a year, the mentor should contact the Committee on Mentoring, who will in turn contact the Religious Education Credentialing Director who will contact the candidate to determine any problems and try to help get the relationship back on schedule.
The mentor is a volunteer, and with the possible exception of an initial phone call, should not bear any financial responsibilities for the mentoring relationship.
WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CANDIDATE?
Mentors are required for all participants in the Religious Education Credentialing program. Participants are required to have a mentor for as long as they are in the program, and to be in contact with the mentor for at least one hour per month for no less than ten months per year. This schedule may not be re-negotiated by either the candidate or the mentor. Not adhering to it may impact the candidate's program completion date.
The candidate is responsible for calling the mentor in a timely manner for their meetings, and for being in a space and frame of mind that s/he is fully present for the meeting.
The candidate should be considerate of the mentor's time, bearing in mind that the mentor is a volunteer. That means the candidate should 1) keep appointments and 2) be actively pursuing his/her goal of credentialing, which includes maintaining an active relationship with his/her mentor.
A candidate is also responsible for knowing and articulating his/her own needs and limitations. For example, assignments generated from the mentoring partnership should be undertaken only if they are compatible with the resources of the candidate, and congruent with mutually understood goals. If the candidate is faced with a life emergency and needs to be put on emergency hold status in the Religious Education Credentialing program, or if the candidate determines their needs and limitations require the them to be put in inactive status in, or withdraw from, the Religious Education Credentialing program, s/he should notify the mentor and contact the Religious Education Credentialing Director with a request for this change of program status. If the mentor does not receive confirmation of this change of status, s/he is requested to contact the Committee on Mentoring or the Religious Education Credentialing Director for clarification of the candidate's status.
Candidates who are not members of LREDA will be required to pay $150 per year (prorated, if applicable), starting at the beginning of the mentoring relationship, to help reimburse LREDA for the costs of training mentors and administering the mentoring program. Alternately, LREDA welcomes such people to become members.
WHAT IF PROBLEMS ARISE?
If the mentor wants help with coaching skills or has a question clearly related to mentoring, Helen Bishop (email@example.com) is currently the mentor to mentors. Here are some examples of when the mentor to mentors would be contacted:
The thread here is that something is getting in the way of what could otherwise be a good mentoring relationship, and the mentor doesn't know how to move his/her "stuff" out of the way.
If a personality conflict or other problem with the mentoring relationship arises that the mentoring partners cannot resolve, if the mentoring process never really got off the ground, or if one of the mentoring parties has disengaged from the process, a concerned mentor should contact the Committee on Mentoring and/or a concerned candidate should contact the Religious Education Credentialing Director. If the Director and Committee cannot help resolve the problem, other arrangements will be made. These arrangements may include a new mentor assignment, the candidate is placed on emergency hold or inactive status in the RE Credentialing program, or the candidate or mentor withdraws from his/her respective program. If either party misses more than two scheduled meetings in a year, the same process should be followed.
If the mentor must for any reason (such as illness or a family emergency) terminate the mentoring relationship once it has started, but before its planned completion, the mentor should immediately notify the Committee and get a response from the Committee, then notify the candidate, initially by email (so that there is a paper trail), followed up, if possible, by a personal phone call. The email to the candidate should be copied to the Committee, which will forward it on to the Religious Education Credentialing Director. If the mentor is unable to contact the candidate (due to illness, etc), a committee member will contact the candidate and the director. When a mentor terminates a relationship unexpectedly, the Committee will 1) ask the mentor to turn in whatever record of meetings s/he has to the Committee and to the UUA Office of Religious Education Credentialing and 2) will meet via email or phone if necessary to make another match.
Please remember that both the mentor and the candidate should follow up with phone calls when emails are not responded to. Email is not a perfect technology, and sending one does not guarantee that it is received.
WHAT REPORTING IS REQUIRED?
At the beginning of the mentoring relationship, each mentor is sent a copy of the LREDA Mentoring Report Form on which s/he should document the date and time of each substantive meeting (ones that last approximately one hour). This form is also on the LREDA website. In January of each year the mentor and candidate should each sign the form, and the mentor should send a copy of this form to the chair of the Committee on Mentoring and to the UUA Office of Religious Education Credentialing. Since mentoring is a requirement of the program, it is essential that this form be sent in a timely manner.
Revised, LREDA Committee on Mentoring and Beth Williams, July 2009