School Mentor Lets Her Dismissive Students Learn The Hard Way To Hit Deadlines. – ‘Can’t you, like, chill out? When we need you we will contact you.’
by Trisha Leigh
Most people get to the point in their career where they want to get something more out of their work. At that point, many choose to begin sharing their knowledge with people interested in the same path.
That was OP, who is a successful female in IT. Typically, she chose to mentor adults looking to change or enhance their careers.
Some background: I, 27F, work in IT. I’m a well-respected and known member of the “IT party circle” where I live, so to speak. I am not jaw-dropping, but people know me, and I have a very good reputation.
One of the things is that I got to the point in my career when I wanted to give back: so I started mentoring others. Mostly I mentored adults or those who were closer to me in age.
Career advice, how to apply for different exchange programs that can boost their professional growth, and improve their speaking and writing skills – the usual.
This time, though, she took on two groups of kids – one middle schoolers, the other high schoolers – and assumed the younger kids would be the tougher to mentor through.
But I always was one up for the challenge and decided to try and mentor kids.
It is not a secret that IT and STEM are increasingly popular right now, and more and more people want to get into the field. Therefore, there are myriads of bootcamps, hackathons, and mentoring programs for all ages.
So, I signed up for one such program as a mentor. Teach kids how to code with blocks, tell them what AI is, and how to develop an MVP. It sounds more complicated than it might look at at first glance.
Especially when you are an educated professional with a degree, explaining concepts that are rather complicated to children who may have less than 1/50 of your tech knowledge.
The program provided benefits beyond just learning, too, like college credit.
I must add that participation in the said program gives kids credits and can help them get into better schools or even be eligible for some university scholarships later in life.
So only Pros, if you ask me. The only thing is that they must upload their MVP project to the site before the deadline.
Things started out fine, and OP was pleasantly surprised by how well the middle school group was doing.
I was assigned two teams: primary – early middle schoolers (Team A) and high schoolers (Team B). Both had 5 members, and the youngest (in team A) was 8 y.o.
I thought: omg, that will be tough, thinking about Team A and how I am up for a tough time. Also, since they are so young, the parents of the kids must observe Team A meetings and my lessons, and parents = problems.
Ironically, despite my worries, even with “help” from the parents, the kids in Team A were doing great!
But when she began to remind the older group that the deadline was coming up, one of them asked her to stop because she was being a bummer and stressing them out.
But the same can’t be said about Team B.
A little side note: with my mentees, I have 2 rules:
At least 1 meeting per week, at least 50% of the group must be present;
Communication. When I type something, like tasks to do or reply to a question asked before, I ask my mentees to respond. Not even text, a “thumbs up” emoji will also suffice. We all know that “read” status doesn’t mean much when you can accidentally open an app for a second and swipe it to clear RAM on the phone.
So, Team A attended all the meetings and responded to my assignments – there was a curriculum provided by a program to follow – and they were very receptive overall. When Team B started OK, but then started not showing on meetings and leaving assignments read but unresponded.
I understand they have a lot on their plate – exams are no joke – but they disregarded my time, which I will not be OK with. I have a job to do, and mentoring in that program was 100% volunteering, and there was no payment for the mentors.
There was, however, a very strict deadline – the middle of April, when their MVPs must be loaded onto the website for later judgment. I, even when peeved, am a professional first and an angry lady – second.
So I wrote multiple messages asking for updates on the project, with warnings at the end that “Deadline is April 15th, don’t miss it!” After one such message, the so-called leader of Team B, “Sam” wrote to me this:
“Uhm, Hi, OP! I know that you probably mean well, but you only bother the team with those deadline messages. Can’t you, like, chill out? When we need you – we will contact you and all. Just get off our hair and let us do our job. I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings; it is what it is. <3 “
So, OP stopped.
After I read that message, I was like: WTH???, but I did respond that I would stop messaging if that caused tension within the team. Tho, the deadline is still on the 15th, and the site would reject any application that was uploaded after.
“Just stop, OK?? Geez X.” – said Sam to that.
So I decided: OK, I’m washing my hands out of this.
Since that message, I haven’t written anything to Team B. I had scheduled no meetings, updates, or checkups about the curriculum/their understanding.
And definitely not a written reminder of the deadline once.
When the projects were due, the high school group turned theirs in late and it was not accepted.
Team A uploaded their project with no issues, and their parents even bought me a nice box of chocolate as a “Thank you” gesture.
Just like the deadline came and went, team B started bombarding chat, asking me to help because “something is wrong with the site! We can’t upload our project!”
I entered the chat and said: Yes, it will not upload. No, it is not an issue with the site. The deadline has passed, so if you try to upload, it will only show you an error message. I warned you, kids!
No extra credits, no nothing. The rules of that program are simple, but they are hard “no exceptions” ones.
They tried blaming her, but she had all of the texts backing up her side of things.
Team B tried to blame me, saying that as a mentor, it was my job to ensure they would succeed.
I reminded them that my job as a mentor is to provide support and guidance, keep track of their progress, and remind them of the deadline. Which – all of the above – they, via Sam, asked me not to. And since I respected their boundaries – I did exactly what they had requested.
They can sulk as much as they want – I have all our communication in writing, so they don’t have a leg to stand when trying to accuse me of sabotaging them in the program.
Tough luck, kids!
Does Reddit think she should have tried harder?
No, they say OP can only hope they’ve learned this lesson, even if it wasn’t what she was supposed to teach them.
Because sometimes consequences really do drive home the lesson.
Others aren’t so sure kids like this will ever learn.
Being rude to someone helping you is generally not the way to success.
Most everyone has had to learn a lesson like this at one time or another.
OP definitely did those kids a favor.
Though I doubt they’ll be thanking her for it anytime soon.