A “mentoring guidesheet” is a one-page, theme-centered, creative questionnaire that teens first fill out and subsequently use to guide their conversation in one-on-one mentoring or group discussions. This article explains how to make them.
What is a “mentoring guidesheet”?
A “mentoring guidesheet” is a one-page, theme-centered, creative questionnaire that teens first fill out and subsequently use to guide their conversation in one-on-one mentoring or group discussions.
Why use mentoring guidesheets?
These help teens think and speak about specific themes more systematically. These also provide adult mentors concrete insights on the teens´ lives and convictions, as well as provide a guide for personal conversation or group discussions.
How can these be used?
Guidesheets can be used for these general purposes:
- 1-on-1 mentoring
- small group discussions
When should these be filled out?
It´s totally up to the leader! Teens can fill them out in the chapel, or in their own seats. They can fill them out in the morning to prepare the day´s theme, or in the evening to close it, depending on the goal of the event. They can fill them out individually (recommended), or as part of a group. They can be filled out at home, during CCD class, at school during Religion class, et cetera!
Who can lead the mentoring and/or group discussions?
Personal, one-on-one conversations can be guided by priests and consecrated. Parents can use these to spark formative conversations with their own children.
Group discussions, however, may be guided by all the above, but also by youth ministers, CCD teachers, parents, or other qualified lay adults.
Do you have any examples I can download?
Yes! Click on these below to download sample guidesheets:
If you´d like to read a specific example of how I used these during a summer camp, you can click on my article below:
How can I make my own?
It´s not easy to make these, but practice and feedback from others help! You can make your own by following the steps below:
- Pick the themes. These should follow the themes of the camp, retreat, youth group, etc.
- Understand your theme! Brainstorm a bit to come up with ideas, possible questions, important points…
- Pick between 5 to 7 different question formats to convey your theme.
- Write your first draft! Combine your brainstorm results with the question formats. Make sure the questions are personalized, addressed to the teen.
- Get some feedback from other adults and make any new modifications.
- Try them out, and then make any more modifications based on teens´ observations.
What are the question formats?
(Remember you´ll have to adjust these to suit the particulars of your theme.)
Some of these are a matter of choosing from a list:
- Multiple choice:
- Check one, or several, from a list of multiple choice answers.
- Difficult situation:
- How would you respond to this difficult situation? (note: author describes the difficult situation, and the teen circles from among possible answers to choose from)
- Yes or No:
- Write yes/no (or maybe) if the following statements describe you.
- True or False:
- Regarding the theme, state if the following are true or false.
- Agree or disagree:
- Do you agree or disagree with the following statements?
- Three words:
- What three words describe this theme for you?
- Circle two:
- Circle two of the following words that describe you (or this theme)
- Which is more true:
- Which of these two statements is more true?
- Intensity line:
- Place an X on this line where best fits you. (example: left “close to God”; right: “far from God”)
Others require writing down a response:
- What does this theme mean to you?
- Open answer:
- How would you describe this theme to another person?
- Open question:
- What other questions do you have about this theme?
- Jesus´ answer:
- What does Jesus say about this theme in the Bible?
- Scripture passage:
- Find this passage in the Bible; in your words write down what it says.
- Church´s teaching:
- What does the Church teach about this, and why?
Any other advice?
- Remember, these are a tool to help you! They do not replace you as the mentor, so feel free to jump ship if they are not working for your group or for your style. Generally teens like to learn and speak about themselves, but don´t force the issue if some teens don´t want to use them.
- Keep in mind these do not substitute your knowledge of the themes covered. In fact, they may challenge your own understanding! Make sure to do your homework!
- Be very positive. Congratulate them if they chose a wise answer, and gently correct them if they didn´t.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten the teens, and in turn, to enlighten you as you lead a discussion.
- Ask them why they chose their answers. This will reveal convictions that may spark new conversations. Let them speak as much as they feel they need to. The guidesheet will then help you return to the theme.
- As they speak, ask questions that bring them to a practical resolution, or change of behavior/attitude, such as “so what do you think you could do differently?” Avoid making practical decisions for them. If needed, offer them some examples.
- Before you end, ask them if they´ve learned something new or not, or if they have any other questions.
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