Saturday, December 1, 2007

December 2007: Adrienne Dubiecki, Our “Getting to Know You” Superstar


December 2007 America Learns Strategy of the Month
Mentoring Partnership for Los Angeles Youth

When you think Venn diagrams, what comes to mind?

How about forming a meaningful relationship with the student or mentee you’re serving?

This month’s strategy offers an innovative way for tutors, mentors and their students/mentees to use Venn diagrams to get to know one another, and to even track the development of their relationship and one another’s personal growth.

The strategy was contributed to the America Learns Network by Adrienne Dubiecki, the Academic Mentoring Program Manager with Children Uniting Nations/mPLAY (the Mentoring Partnership for Los Angeles Youth).

More About Adrienne


Adrienne (in blue) with mPLAY mentors.

Adrienne, who earned an MSW from UC Berkeley, told us that she came to CUN/mPLAY earlier this year because she was "immediately drawn to their mission of providing mentors to youth in the foster care system, and the school-based program in particular. I love being in the position of bringing caring adults into the lives of children, especially those in our program who often lack stability in their lives."

She used this particular strategy with a group of mentors and mentees in one of mPLAY’s Saturday School programs on the first day that everyone met. "It was such a success that I now incorporate it into the handouts that all mentors get before they are matched," she said.

The Strategy


Created by: Adrienne Dubiecki, MSW/PPSC at Children Uniting Nations/mPLAY
(America Learns Network member since 2006)
Topic: Getting to Know Your Student or Mentee
Grade Levels: First - Ninth
Arrangements: Pairs or groups of three
- Best on larger poster paper, but 8.5 x 11 works as well
- Markers, pens or colored pencils for you and your mentees

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Situation: This strategy is most appropriate when mentors and mentees are meeting for the first time or in the initial "getting to know you" phase. It works for pairs or groups of three. (It gets more complicated with larger numbers.)
Step 1: Introduce Venn diagrams.

Explain what a Venn diagram is. You can say, "We use Venn diagrams to show the relationship between two or more things."

You can then give an example of how you'd create one for two people (two circles) or three people (three circles).

Say: "This circle represents Person A [draw the circle], this circle represents Person B [draw the interconnected circle]," and so on.

Then you would give an example of something that Person A and Person B have in common and something that makes them different from one another.

For example, Person A and Person B both like chocolate chip ice cream (then write the word or draw a picture of chocolate chip ice cream in the part of the circles that overlap). The next example might be: But Person A likes to rollerblade and Person B likes to skateboard (then you would write or draw each example inside the circles that correspond to each person, not in the overlapping area).

Use examples that relate to personality, goals/dreams, lifestyle, academic interests, etc. to model what you want the exercise to look like when you do it with your mentee in the next step.


Step 2: Using the large poster paper (if possible) and different colored markers/pens (one for each person), draw (or ask your mentee to draw) two BIG interconnected circles to have enough room to fit words or pictures.

Take turns or have your mentee do all of the writing/drawing as both of you come up with things you have in common or not.
Step 3: When you think you have come up with as many things as possible, read (or have your mentee read) everything that you came up with.

America Learns Note:

On top of reading your diagram together, there are a number of activities you can do from here such as:

- Finding something that your mentee is good at and setting up a plan for her to share that skill or knowledge with you.

- Finding if your mentee wants to learn something from you and setting up a plan for you to share your knowledge or skill set.

- Writing a fictional story or play together about two (or three) people who are similar and different in the same way that both (or all) of you are.

- Bringing out this chart periodically to review it and note what has changed in your lives. Perhaps as a result of your relationship or another experience in your lives, a difference between or among all of you has become a similarity or vice versa. Updating or creating a new Venn diagram throughout your relationship could lead to an innovative, meaningful journaling or diary-keeping experience.

- If you create multiple diagrams over time, consider assembling them into a collage or another art piece that tracks the changes in both of your lives.

Step 4: Regardless of any additional activities you do with the diagram, ask your mentee if she wants to keep it or if you should. Let them know that you can always come back to it if you think of more things later.
Related Resources & Materials for America Learns Network Members: If your organization is a part of the America Learns Network community, check out these additional resources to consider using with your student or mentee:
- Exploring Your Student's Culture
- Getting to Know You as a Reader (Conducting Reading Interviews)
- Getting to Know You as a Writer (Conducting Writing Interviews)
- The Sharing Game (A Group "Getting to Know You" Game) (from our partner, Peace Games)
- We All Have Things in Common


Please share your thoughts about this strategy and any messages you have for Adrienne by clicking the grey “Comments” link below.

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