Tips for communicating with students

Your job as a mentor is to provide technical advice and encourage the students to think creatively, so to do this you will need to listen and understand the situation. Be careful to process everything that a student is saying. Watch body language, maintain eye contact, and understand which topics are difficult for them to discuss. Showing someone that you are listening is a valuable skill in itself. It shows that you value what the person is saying and that you won’t interrupt them.

Give feedback
Do this in a way that accurately and objectively summarises what you have heard – and you could also interpret their comments in a way that guides them to think through the next step. It is also helpful if your feedback shows that you understand their approach to thinking about an issue, which can enable a  mentee to see a situation from another perspective.

Have patience
Sometimes it may take a little longer for a student to articulate their thoughts – , they may need some prompting with questions but they will get their thoughts out to you in time.

You are their role model
Students will look up to you for everything you do and some will also dream to grow up to be just like you. They will do as you do, so you will need to pay attention to your actions.

Ask open-ended questions
This will stimulate the students’ thinking and help them tap into their creative side. Share your knowledge but let them come to the decisions. A simple guide is to think of what you want to tell a student and to find a question that will help them come to the same conclusion on their own.

Avoid negative criticism
You can challenge the students/teacher to think about something in a different light but it needs to be in a constructive manner. They can make their own mistakes and learn from them – and it is valuable to note these things in the project report.