Editors Blog

Why it’s so important to consider youth’s capacity for connection

Why it’s so important to consider youth’s capacity for connection

by Jean Rhodes In a study of successful, long-term mentoring relationships, Renee Spencer pinpointed the precise turning point in the relationship between 14 year old Alana and Alana’s diehard mentor, Stacy (Spencer, Levine, & Rhodes, 2017). Early mistreatment had shattered Alana’s capacity to forge trusting bonds, and she’d grown adept at forcing relationships to their […]

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Why neither baseball nor mentoring should be a home run derby

Why neither baseball nor mentoring should be a home run derby

by Jean Rhodes For years, I was stubbornly convinced that formal mentoring programs should focus exclusively on creating and maintaining deep, emotional bonds. I saw attempts to scale back on relationship length and strength, or to rely on curricula, as existential threats to the field–destined to reduce already modest effects. But, with the help of […]

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What an unexpected diagnosis can tell us about mentoring

What an unexpected diagnosis can tell us about mentoring

by Jean Rhodes None of the specialists at the U. of Chicago medical center could pinpoint the source of Phil’s chronic back pain. Months of appointments, batteries of tests, and several unsuccessful treatments had culminated in a referral to the psychiatry department’s pain management clinic where I was a clinical psychology intern. Sometimes patients were […]

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The future of mentoring: An infographic

The future of mentoring: An infographic

by Jean Rhodes I recently worked with a talented team at the MacArthur Foundation Connected Learning Research Network to develop an infographic on youth mentoring (below). In essence, I argue that the number of Americans willing to serve as volunteer mentors has remained remarkably stable over the past decade — between 2 million and 2.5 million, or […]

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Slipping through my fingers: What a new study (and sappy song) reveal about relationships

Slipping through my fingers: What a new study (and sappy song) reveal about relationships

by Jean Rhodes Slipping through my fingers all the time, I try to capture every minute The feeling in it Slipping through my fingers all the time Do I really see what’s in her mind Each time I think I’m close to knowing She keeps on growing Slipping through my fingers all the time Abba, […]

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“There are four things I think you can do to change the world”

“There are four things I think you can do to change the world”

by Jean Rhodes I once took a year’s leave from academia to serve as a match coordinator in a Boston-based mentoring program. One evening I found myself sitting on the edge of a couch in a subsidized apartment conducting an intake with nine year old Kayla and her mom. Kayla’s toddler brother played beside me, occasionally staring […]

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What can data from 6,500 matches tell us about mentoring relationships?: Important insights from a new study

What can data from 6,500 matches tell us about mentoring relationships?: Important insights from a new study

by Jean Rhodes The length of mentoring relationships is one of the  most important indicators of positive change in youth. In analyses of data from random assignment studies of both school and community mentoring programs, my colleagues and I have found that effects on youth outcomes grow stronger as relationships persist for longer periods of time. There […]

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Three ways to build a “Sound Relationship House” in mentoring

Three ways to build a “Sound Relationship House” in mentoring

by Jean Rhodes In his Sound Relationship House Theory, psychologist and marriage guru John Gottman defines the attitudes and skills that lead to strong friendships in marriage, delineating them as the “floors” or principles of good marriage. Many apply well to a range of friendships, including mentorships. In the following sections, three core principles of his theory […]

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The promise and pitfalls of mentoring in the digital age

The promise and pitfalls of mentoring in the digital age

by Jean Rhodes Considering how widespread it is, it is somewhat alarming that there is not yet a uniform standard of best practice around social media in youth mentoring. Granted, many programs have wrestled with this issue, and we sought to determine how to update the Elements of Effective Practice  and the youth mentoring Code of […]

What a wildly improbable movie can teach us about mentoring

What a wildly improbable movie can teach us about mentoring

by Jean Rhodes In the comedy, Role Models, two self-absorbed salesmen, Danny and Wheeler, are arrested following a road rage incident and elect to perform community service hours over going to jail. They are assigned to work at a mentoring program where Danny is paired with a nerdy role-playing game enthusiast while Wheeler finds himself […]

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