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The DREAM Blog

How does M2 Mentor the Next Generation of Mentors?

Vermont - An example from M2’s curriculum that fashions high-schoolers into mentors!

Ever wondered what sort of activities go on in the classroom’s of our high school mentors? Bruce Perlow, Youth Services Manager with our M2 Program, described what he called “The Spotify Playlist.”

Bruce Perlow, Youth Services Manager

In the “Spotify Playlist” students express their sense of self through the design of a Spotify themed playlist. Students must choose a title, design a cover, assign an agent and a producer, and then add songs to match a list of prompts about themselves. “For example,” Bruce explains, “the title of their playlist and the design of the cover is supposed to be how they feel others see them. The name of the group and/or artists is supposed to be the real you. The producer is their most influential family member, and the agent is the most influential non-family member. Each song represents the type of friend they are, where they feel most comfortable, and so on."

It becomes much more introspective than they expected.” He goes on to describe how most students have an easy time picking which family member was most influential, or where they feel most comfortable, but other prompts are quite challenging, like asking for an expression of their philosophy on life. “It’s your perspective,” Bruce says, “Who is the real me? Who do you feel is the real you? They can choose real songs, or they can make up the song—but they need to be able to explain the reasoning behind it.”

Most lessons involve a dialogue or an activity like this. Perlow says he mostly avoids PowerPoints and lectures; he needs the students engaged, thinking, and connecting.

“[When] they’ve been pushed to a point to reflect and sit quietly, those are the moments where deep learning is happening. It’s a feeling. Pause, and thoughtfully reflect. There’s something going on that they’re going to grow from.”

Identity is one of the three pillars of the M2 curriculum, along with sense of place and sense of purpose . By establishing a strong understanding of who they are, mentors will understand how they fit into the communities around them. They will also be able to express their identity to the larger community around them, which is key to meaningful connection. And that, Perlow says, is the basis of all mentoring. “[It’s] an important area for a young person to explore, to feel connected to one another and to themselves.” Once a good relationship has been established, based on authenticity and fun and reliability, the other aspects of mentoring can begin to develop.

After spending their first semester building strong bonds with each other, the M2 students are now eager to meet their elementary school mentees. “[We] struggle with holding back the enthusiasm, explaining why we are delaying the mentoring.” Bruce says, “We need to convince them that each and every meeting will help them become stronger, more confident mentors.” More to come from our M2 students!

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