While every pair relationship develops in its own unique ways over time, many tend to unfold along a similar trend. This trend is referred to as the “typical arch” which can be used as a tool to understand where your relationship with your mentee is currently. A visual representation of the typical arc is presented below, followed by a detailed description.
Match and Honeymoon Phase
After a mentee and mentor are matched, they often experience an initial boost in relationship strength as the program is still new/exciting and they are engaging primarily in fun activities to get to know one another. The length of this phase and the amount of initial relationship growth is different for each pair, but it is important that pairs leverage their excitement during this time period and invest in the development of consistent communication habits. During the honeymoon phase, pairs should spend time getting to know one another more personally by identifying similarities and celebrating differences as learning opportunities.
As the newness of the program experience wears off and discussion prompts shift to more practical post-secondary topics, pairs often experience a lull in relationship growth. Similarly, some pairs may experience a challenge or make a misstep that causes their relationship to weaken (i.e., lack of continued engagement consistency, stand-ups at events, etc.). As a mentor, it is important to understand when they are experiencing a crash or plateau as it is generally a sign that some levity or fun could help get the relationship back on track. Its is worth noting that pairs may experience more than one crash/plateau in their relationship and that consistent communication is the key to pushing through them.
Rebound and "True" Relationship Development
When pairs remain consistently engaged they tend to naturally shift into the work of establishing a relationship that is more authentic and focused. During this phase, it is important for mentors to keep building upon the foundation of fun experiences and sharing of similarities/celebration of differences from the honeymoon period. At the same time, mentors should feel more confident in pushing their mentee to focus conversations around post-secondary aspirations. “True” relationship development involves pairs developing independence, learning how to leverage their PM’s support and setting/working toward goals related to the mentee’s post-secondary plan as these are the skills that will help them persist in their relationship in a meaningful way after high school ends. Generally speaking, this is the longest phase of pairs relationship development.
At the end of 12th grade, pairs transition from the care of their high school Program Manager to a Post-Secondary Program Manager (PSPM). Because the structure of weekly iMentor classes will end with mentees' high school graduation, the independence built during the "true" relationship development period is critical in successfully transitioning the bond into the post-secondary space. If mentors feel that their relationship is not strong or independent enough to persist through this transition, they should consult with their PSPM to identify strategies to do so. Some pairs may experience another plateau in their relationship growth with as the structured communication from high school falls away, and that is ok! A great strategy mentors can use during this phase is co-creating communication expectations with their mentee after they graduate high school