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More about EDN mentors

E-mentoring = E-joy ???

A light-hearted perspective on mentoring written by the mentor co-ordinator. Don't miss the "poetry" at the end.

For most educators in Schoolnet's projects the experience has been exciting and challenging, although not without difficulty. Educators often encounter problems - technical as well as personal issues have stood in the way of many educators' success. The mentors have persisted through the ups and downs and generally been able to "hou die blinkkant bo" (lit.: keep the shiny side up) through the support and help and friendship that they receive from one another. For most mentors, it has been an extremely enriching and rewarding experience, and it has been gratifying to see the responses and results from the educators with whom they are working.

Apart from the more classic requirements laid down in order to qualify as a mentor, the following attributes are more likely to contribute to their success and job satisfaction than a whole host of computer and pedagogical skills:

  • a sense of humour
  • patience
  • a sense of humour
  • perseverance
  • calmness in the face of yet another technical problem in a school
  • compassion for their group members personal circumstances and problems
  • a sense of humour
  • persistence
  • (.... the pattern should be emerging.... )
  • a sense of humour
  • ability to write in rhyme
  • comes in handy all the time.....
  • kindness, and the ability to respond gently on the 7 th time a mentee sends an activity without the required attachment!!!!

For a glimpse into the inner workings of the mentor minds and the evidence of the above attributes, here are some extracts from emails. They offer graphic illustrations of the joys and woes of e-mentoring, and are a sound testimony to the encouragement and support that is available from fellow mentors. And then, when normal words fail, the poets spring into action, the jokes fly, and the graphics dance across our screens......


"Secrets?  Just pure luck as far as the number of active members any mentor might have. Remain positive.  Presume that your mentees are keen to do well.  Keep sending emails.  To the group, to individuals.   Short positive comments on anything you get.  No coaching.  Keep it light.
Happy fishing" (Rik)

"It should be a piece of cake.  A poppy seed cake.   Any crumbs of achievement we get are seeds which will grow. And soon there will be lots of cake for everyone.  We just need the right recipe."  (Rik)

"A thought for the day or maybe the cycle:
Nurture them, put commitment and effort into working with them, make them stronger by challenging them, and giving them room to grow, your ideas can bring incredible value to their lives." (Jacques)

" My strategy is roughly "less is more".  Keep in touch with the faithful. Keep it short.  Keep it positive.  Keep it simple - especially when mistakes are made and instructions seem to be ignored.  Be tactful and respectful.  Don't patronise.  Don't panic. Don't sweat the small stuff!
Expect the following:
Some will behave, some will not.
Some will finish, some will not.
Some will do all their activites in one or two days.
Some will do only an introduction.
Most of the active will rush to finish near the end.
Some will interact, many will not.
Some are interacting but you wont know about it.

At the end of it all, you will have been part of enriching some lives. 
You cannot win them all but you will definitely win some of them and
it is well worth the frustrations you may feel at times."  (Rik)

"mentor:  Things are going slowly but fortunately I have one mentee who is performing well and when I read this in his ediary I realised that this is what it is all about from the mentee's e-diary (reflective journal):

'The module is so interesting it makes me want to come to the computer laboratory every day to work on it. The module up to this far has made me proud of using the spreadsheets and also talking about it whenever I am with my colleagues. They always wanted me to show them how I managed to calculate my marks so quickly. Now I feel I worth millions to my school .'

"Whatever happens, however my mentees respond, I REFUSE to stop twinkling.

I am sure that my input is having a positive impact (no matter how small), and I am happy in the knowledge that I am doing my little bit to improve education in South Africa."  (Star)

Poems - some mentors resorted to "poetry" to keep the spirits high

When the theme was horsey...

There was a silly young filly
Who drove all the mentors quite dilly
With her horsing around
And her statements profound
Made the atmosphere decidedly chilly (Rik)

Flogging a dead horse is proverbially silly,
Like smsing an e-mail-shy phoneless hill-billy,
Patrick objects, we can tell,
Steve has reserved him a cell,
And Rik keeps us jogging along willy-nilly. (Brian)

Then fishy

I can't wait
for the bait
that brings all fish
to the dish.

May the bod
with the rod
catch all day
ones that got away.

Play the book,
get a hook,
a smile to raise:
nothing better than praise.   ( Steve)

On the occasion of SchoolNet winning the the NGO Category of the 2002 ICT Achievers Award for bridging the digital divide.

Proud and tall the mentors stood their mouses near at hand
The news was great and all around of achievements that were grand.
That mouse was all they had with them to close the gap so wide
But they had done their little bit to bridge the digital divide. (Rik)

Does "bridging the digital divide" mean we're going to have to grow webbed
And what, in computer language, is the plural of "mouse"?
Computer-literate band,
    The mentors give advice,
    "Their mouses near at hand"
    They're working from their hice


And then a season of Haiku hit the ether

Yesterday it worked
Today it is not working
Windows is like that.

Three things are certain
Death, taxes and lost data
Guess which has occurred.

Neither smile nor cry
no reply, no attachment?
practice detachment.  (Magda)

My mouse ran away
with my best thoughts. Screen blank.
No Window on world. (Magda)

Smiles - from mentees' e-mails

 " (the mentor) - I think it would be selfish of me to keep these pearls to myself:
These are unedited comments I've had to field this time round:

(the mentee) I am a window with three children, one girl and two sons."

- indoctrinated by Bill Gates or perhaps entering into the spirit the new era of transparency.

"I am married with one child (son ten years old). I am struggling to have more. If anyone can help please write to me." 

Gulp!! I'm just a simple country boy - I'll skip on this one!!

(and another mentor) Hi ....
Thanks for sharing your pearls.  My favourite pearl is:

"My name is xxxxx.  I am single but soon I will be double."

This article was written by Anne Gordon, SchoolNet's mentor co-ordinator. Her online facilitation skills have kept a very diverse and remarkable group of tutors together. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, contact



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