Centering Relationships in Education During January’s Annual Mentoring Month

4 ways to celebrate and build youth connections with The Mentoring Partnership

Remake Learning uplifts programs and practices that derive from deep and caring relationships between learners and their educators, peers, families, and mentors. We know children thrive when surrounded by caring adults in all areas of their lives, including at school.

Strong relationships are central to the learning process. Research shows that students who feel safe and supported by adults at school are better able to learn. Developmental and learning sciences recommend educators create environments that foster strong, long-term relationships, as these help children to become more positively attached to school as well as the adults and other children in it.

During the pandemic, separated by space and screens, educators sought new ways to build and maintain relationships with their students and families. In turn, many communities came to understand the critical role school- and learning-based relationships play in students’ academic, social, and emotional development.

Relationships moved from the periphery to the center of our collective learning conversation.

In Pittsburgh, teachers volunteered to help with meal delivery to students in order to connect with learners on a personal level. Administrators hosted virtual Q&A sessions where parents could share their needs and concerns.

Relationships featured prominently in the Remaking Tomorrow: What Comes Next? publication, which captured the experiences of teachers and education leaders across the state and put forth recommendations to help expand relationship building between youth and educators.

Today, we are broadening our definition of “educator” and working to connect learners to entire ecosystems of caring adults.

Mentoring–both formal and “everyday”–is a key means of relationship building between adults and youth. Intentional student-adult relationships nurture understanding and ignite self-discovery, inspiring young people to pursue their passions and thrive in school.

However, these relationships often aren’t evenly distributed within the education system. Some students find the help they need to succeed, while others are unintentionally left behind. By creating a relationship-centered learning environment through mentoring, educators can amplify equity and empower students to build emotional competencies, learn new skills, and explore future careers.

Every January, the mentoring movement unites in celebration of National Mentoring Month. In our region, the celebration is led by The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern PA (TMP), which advances mentoring in western Pennsylvania to ignite community involvement, strengthen programs, and empower all youth to succeed in life.

In honor of National Mentoring Month, here are five ways TMP is helping to center the power of relationships in our schools and everyday spaces. Feeling inspired to get involved? Read on for ideas to join the mentoring movement!

Relationship-Centered Schools Consultative Process

This TMP initiative helps local districts and schools develop and implement a relationship-centered strategy and action plan. Using a consultative process led by MENTOR and its affiliates, participants work through six steps featuring relationship building, engagement of champions, a landscape analysis and design lab, coaching and technical assistance, and evaluation.

Connect – Focus – Grow: Leveraging the Power of Relationships

This training series encourages a mentoring mindset while providing opportunities for participants to engage with others. It equips mentors, workplace supervisors, and youth with the skills needed to successfully navigate a mentorship experience.

Everyday Mentoring® Training

An informal mentoring training that introduces adults to tools and techniques they can use to make a mentoring difference for youth in their daily lives. Everyday Mentoring recognizes that anyone–parents, teachers, youth sports coaches, librarians, crossing guards–who interacts regularly with young people can use mentorship to help youth feel known, recognized, cared for, and supported.

TMP’s Mentor Chat podcast

A discussion on all things mentoring! Season 2 debuted this fall, focusing on Everyday Mentoring. Listen here.

Find more about TMP’s plans for National Mentoring Month here.