Mentors

We’re always looking for more helpers!

Helping young people learn to code is hugely rewarding. If you can offer your time for two hours at 5.30 pm on a Wednesday evening, we’d love to hear from you! Please drop us an email before showing up, so we know who to expect — hello [at] prewired [dot] org.

How We Work

Prewired is largely unstructured and our main goal is to support the young people in learning whatever it is they want to learn. So mentoring at Prewired consists mostly of wandering around a room full of budding hackers, answering questions, helping to fix bugs, and actively checking on the kids to make sure they’re happy and learning.

Any and all software and hardware skills are welcome! See What we do for more information.

Workshops

From time to time we hold more structured workshops about a specific topic, and encourage all of the young people to get involved and learn something they might not otherwise have thought about. If you’d like to run a workshop we’d love to have you — just get in touch.

Certifications and qualifications

Disclosure (aka CRB checking)

We work with the STEM Ambassador Programme to organise Disclosure for our mentors free of charge. This can be very useful for you if you wish to work with children or vulnerable people in other contexts too. We periodically arrange sessions when there’s enough interest, and we’re keen to have Disclosure for as many of our mentors as possible.

Certifications

Currently volunteering at Prewired doesn’t qualify you for any specific awards (except for massive kudos and great experience and references for the CV). However, we’re interested in improving your experience however we can, so if you know of a scheme you think we’d fit into that will help you to earn something more, please let us know.

On your first day

The first time you come to a session, please introduce yourself to the Duty Mentor and remind them who you are and what topics you’re able to help with.

You’ll be asked to read our child protection policy and sign your acknowledgment that you have done so. You’ll also be asked to fill out your details for the mentors database so we can keep in touch with you and keep track of the skills we have around the room (you can ask us to remove you from this at any time, if you decide to stop coming).

Sometimes it can be hard to get stuck in, so we have developed some guidelines for mentoring.

Ongoing participation

You don’t need to come every week, but it’s helpful for the kids to have some consistency, so we’d love it if you could come as often as possible. If you do become a regular, please ask for an invite to the #mentors channel on the Slack Prewired team — this is where we post announcements, etc that might interest mentors and occasional reminders about sessions. You can also use this channel to chat to other mentors and ask questions.

Please also add your details to the mentors’ database.

Mentors who have undergone Disclosure can take a turn at being the Duty Mentor, which is mostly just about being the first port of call for kids, parents and other mentors. You can see the Duty Mentor guidelines and rota here.

Organising and outreach

If you’re interested in getting more involved in the organising side of things, let us know that too! If you have any specific qualifications, skills or experience (e.g., in education, child services, first-aid, accounting…) don’t forget to mention that.

Mentor Guidelines

Mentors must

  • Comply with our child protection policy.
  • Be identifiable as a mentor (e.g., by wearing a lanyard or T-shirt).
  • Provide us with up-to-date contact details if they wish to come regularly.
  • Return borrowed mentor lanyards or T-shirts at the end of a session.

Mentors should

  • Look out for kids with their hands up, and find out what they need.
  • Check up on kids who appear to be playing games or staring blankly at a screen (or other forms of unproductivity). Nudge them into focusing by asking them what they’re working on; if they have some code, ask them to explain to you how it works, and what their aim is.
  • Find something to do for kids who aren’t sure what to work on. Try to find out what they’re interested in — some have wild ideas but don’t know how to implement them — or what experience they already have, and use your best judgment. CodeAcademy JavaScript tutorials are a good fallback if all else fails, but take some time to tailor your suggestions if you can.
  • Find another mentor who knows about the specific topic if you can’t help with something. Just ask around, but don’t leave a child with a question hanging.
  • Help kids search the web for answers. Being able to look up information and understand how StackOverflow works is a valuable skill you can teach to someone!
  • Answer parents’ questions to the best of your ability, but defer to one of the organisers if need be.
  • Undergo training for the STEM Ambassador Programme, which includes Disclosure. You’re not obliged to do this, but the more Disclosed mentors we have the better. We periodically arrange sessions.
  • Do as the Duty Mentor says.

Mentors must not

  • Share any food or drink with Prewired participants that has not been provided by Prewired.
  • Encourage kids to communicate with them through any private channel such as email or ask them for any personal details.
  • Stand around chatting between themselves for long periods. You can take the juice-break with everyone else, but remember you’re here to help the kids, not socialise! (We periodically arrange mentors parties for you for that.