Try it out for free! Click here to book a free workshop for your child.
Your Basket

There are no items in the basket

Diary of a Senior Mentor, by Hanna!

In this exciting guest blog post, Hanna, one of our Senior Mentor team here at Debate Mate Virtual, discusses how mentoring on our online programmes has impacted her and supported her success at university. Having completed a Politics and Sociology degree at the University of Warwick, Hanna will soon begin a Masters in Law at the University of Law, London!

While my role as a Debate Mate mentor is to teach our students, I think every session I learn just as much as they do - just in a different way. 

The art of debate involves mastering a range of key future skills: public speaking, logical argument construction, and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to listen to and understand others' arguments. It is obvious to see how these skills can apply to my degree in Politics and Sociology.

Teaching students to listen and respond to conflicting arguments has had a huge impact on the quality of my essay-writing, prompting me to critically analyse sources and consider opposing perspectives. Away from written work, it has pushed me to be more open-minded during seminars and general discussions. Even teaching my students how to use PEEL to structure their arguments, something I had not been taught since primary school, has hugely improved the quality of my own uni work.

Yet aside from these glaring examples, mentoring at Debate Mate has helped me develop vital soft skills that have benefitted me in much more subtle ways.

Above all, being a mentor has turned me into a confident communicator, something that has greatly benefitted me within academia. For example, when working as a team on a group project or giving a presentation as part of an assessment, strong communication skills have allowed me to present my ideas in a way that others can understand accurately and quickly. Furthermore, in the ‘real world’ when speaking to employers, colleagues or when working as a team, the communication skills I've gained from being a mentor prove invaluable.

Secondly, people skills. Each and every child is individual and mentoring has taught me how to adapt my communication style accordingly. I have learned that some students need some firm guidance, while with others, a smile and a ‘clapping emoji’ on Zoom is required. This has allowed me to become an excellent ‘reader’ of people- a ticket to success not just at university but also in any client-facing role such as sales assistant, lawyer or a managerial position.

Lastly, problem-solving. Every mentor at Debate Mate has had a moment - or more! - where we’ve had to think fast to deal with a challenging or unexpected situation. You might find that a video is not working on the PowerPoint, no one can hear you on Zoom, or a safeguarding issue has arisen. Whenever we face situations like these, we need to think on our feet and do what we can with what we have. This is a really useful skill to have! You may have to use a logical, methodical approach in some circumstances, or be prepared to use creativity or lateral thinking in others. The ability to improvise and think clearly in stressful situations is a hugely transferable skill.

Being a mentor is fun, flexible and hugely rewarding, but more and more I've found that it's also an investment in my own future.