- Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
- Season 5, Episode 25
- Learn about the TeamMates Mentoring Program and its school-based focus on mentoring young people via CliftonStrengths and StrengthsExplorer.
On a recent Called to Coach, we spoke with Allyson Horne, the Training and Support Specialist for TeamMates mentoring program.
Allyson Horne is a Training and Support Specialist for TeamMates Mentoring Program, a school-based and strengths-based mentoring program for kids in grades 3-12. TeamMates was founded in the 1990s by (University of Nebraska-Lincoln head football) Coach Tom Osborne. The program started with a group of about 20 mentors and they now have close to 8,000 mentors across Nebraska and Iowa, expanding into Wyoming, South Dakota and Kansas.
How did TeamMates start?
- Coach Tom Osborne had a vision to help students get to the post-secondary education opportunity
- Tom was a student of Don Clifton at UNL
- Strengths-based focus gives us the opportunity to build trust between mentors and mentees
- There are no at risk factors that students have to have in place to be matched with a mentor
- We believe all students deserve to have an additional, positive, caring adult in their life
- A strengths-based mentor who will journey with them throughout their lifetime who sees what's right with them from the very beginning
How would you describe strengths spotting?
- Grades 3-8 grade take StrengthsExplorer
- High school students take CliftonStrengths
- Print 3 copies of their results -- 1 for the student, 1 for parents, 1 for mentor
- We equip the mentors with the language to spot strengths in action
- Mentees can turn into strengths spotters as well
- If I can look at and notice something that is right and then say this is great about you, it builds on your sense of self
What training do mentors get?
- The mentors we're equipping don't need to be coaches
- When mentors sign up they go through a 2 ½- to 3-hour new mentor training
- Right from the beginning we don't just focus on policy and procedure
- We focus on relationship building; showing up and being a good listener
- Listen to whatever your mentee wants to talk about; be present in that moment and listen
- Meet once a week during the school year, for usually about 40 minutes, over many years
- I'm there for you unconditionally, I'm still going to show up and affirm what is right about you
- This focuses on hope and research shows that highly hopeful kids do amazing things
- If they're looking forward to seeing you, they'll be more hopeful and more engaged
- Mentors show higher engagement, too
- Doesn't require massive training or education
- If you want to build hope in another person, just show up and focus on what is right about them
- Reciprocal strengths spotting happens
How have you seen the impact in your own kids?
- Received my strengths-based education certificate in 2010
- Learning my Top 5 was mind-blowing-I felt like someone had been following me around my whole life taking notes about the way that I uniquely see the world
- Understanding our kids' strengths helped us realize more about them and changed the way we parented
- I know where they shine and it's very different from me
How are you using strengths inside TeamMates?
- All of us know our strengths
- Tess and I offer strengths coaching to all of our staff
- Every one of our staff meetings or development days start with a strength activity
- We take the activities that our mentors use and practice them
- This gives us insight into what works or what needs to be tweaked
- I think about strengths all the time, even when I'm sending email to staff
- Everyone looks at support differently and needs different things
- Look at how you can honor other people's strengths
- Encourage staff to do strengths spotting with each other
- We have 20 FTE in central office staff
- How do you know they are engaged? We do Q12 measurement
- We have 140 chapters of TeamMates each with a coordinator
- We bring them together for Gallup Strengths day to learn and take learning back to their community
- The ripple effect continues
- % success rate? We have not yet begun to measure that
- How do we measure the impact of equipping people to know what's right about one another?
- It's a challenge to define success … what does that mean?
- We track grades, attendance and behavior
- Also Gallup's measurement of hope
- Our mentees are more likely to graduate from high school for the state of Nebraska
- We utilize Gallup Student Poll with students matched to a mentor -- it measures engagement, hope and strengths (gallupstudentpoll.com)
- How did you forge relationships with school districts?
- We've had very positive school district engagement
- Knowing there is a safe, adult friend willing to meet with a student is very positive
- How do you choose your strengths-based mentors?
- It's the willingness to show up, they go through a screening, interview and training process
- We don't match based on strengths, best match based on common interests
- Our coordinators know the kids
- No certain skill set is required of the mentors, just showing up is most important
- Can you help other chapters get going? Check out the TeamMates website
- Also look at Mentoring.org for establishing a mentor program
- How do you get parents engaged?
- Parents have to give permission for the child to participate
- They get a parent handbook and learn more about the role of the mentor
- If the mentee does strengths, the parents get a copy of their results
- We equip parents with the login and code for StrengthsExplorer so they can use all of the activities there
- We use an activity from StrengthsExplorer
- Find someone you don't normally interact with; share something you recently did that you're proud of; when did it happen and what strengths/talents brought that to the table
- We encourage mentors to be the recipients of brags
- Parents are very excited about strengths
- They love hearing good news come home from school
- Have you leveraged the strengths-based parenting resources? Yes for those that express interest
- We provide codes for matched mentors and mentees
Have you worked with the Gallup Purdue Index?
- Mentoring is mentioned as the second piece in that
- We don't use it at TeamMates
- Our former mentees are becoming mentors themselves
Allyson Horne 's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Input, Communication, Strategic, Woo and Empathy.