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Crafting the Role of a FIRST Lead Mentor

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

Imagine you're at your favorite local restaurant, hungry for a burger that perfectly suits your tastes. You scan the menu, but nothing seems to jump off the page. Well, here's the exciting news: just like the Build Your Own Burger section of a menu, where you can craft a delicious masterpiece tailored to your liking, the role of a FIRST Lead Mentor can be crafted around your specific situation and should be based on your individual strengths, the community around you, and the needs of your students.

Regardless if you're an english teacher, a facilitator for pre-cal and calculus, work as an engineer, or are currently a superintendent of a rural school district, YOU CAN BE THE LEAD MENTOR OF A FIRST TEAM.

Take a look at this video talking about mentoring in FIRST, what they do, their time commitments, and their lives outside of FIRST:

There ARE some common similarities for the description of a FIRST Lead Mentor, otherwise you might end up ordering a sandwich instead of a burger, so we'll focus our attention to these common responsibilities.

RBB's Top Three Lead Mentor Responsibilities

1. Provides students an opportunity to participate

  • Without an adult, students don't have an opportunity to participate and gain critical workforce skills; an adult with a growth mindset needs to say "I'm not a lead mentor, YET, but I'm willing to learn so I can support these students"

  • Provides a physical space for the team or coordinates with others to secure one

  • Ensure the safety of all participants, including students and adult volunteers, by coordinating with the overarching organization

  • Proactively encourages students to seek assistance from other teams, peers, or community volunteers, nurturing a culture that values seeking help when needed.

2. Primary point of contact for the team

  • Willing to ask questions on behalf of the team via official FIRST managed Q&A channels

  • Engages in mentor networking spaces for additional support, as needed

  • Reads emails from the local and global FIRST organization and communicates back via email, phone call, carrier pigeon, drone, or texts based on personal preference

  • Handles team registration and payment procedures for each annual FIRST season

3. Manages team logistics and allocates resources

  • Ensuring all necessary paperwork is completed, both for team participation and travel

  • Leading or organizing team building activities to foster a positive team culture

  • Generally the responsible adult in the room, or aware of how to get in contact with that individual, affectionally titled the "Adultiest Adult"

  • Monitoring and meeting deadlines for event registration, award submissions, or grant applications, either personally or by delegating the responsibility

  • Managing the team budget, overseeing expenses, fundraising efforts, and financial objectives, either personally or by delegating the responsibility

  • Registering for events and arranging travel, either personally or by delegating the responsibility

Full descriptions of Lead Coach/Mentors for both the FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics programs can be found via the buttons below:

(Photos of FIRST Mentors at Wisconsin Events)

"I can't define your specific role as a Lead Mentor, but I can tell you that the most successful FIRST Lead Mentors have built their role to align with their unique strengths, the characteristics of their local community, and the specific needs of their students... AKA building your own delicious masterpiece of a burger." ~Renee Becker-Blau, FIRST Mentor

As explained by my favorite fictional coach...

...if you're comfortable taking on a challenge is it truly a challenge at all?

Renee Becker-Blau

President of FIRST Wisconsin

FIRST Alumni & FIRST Mentor of 15 Years

PS - FIRST Wisconsin Coaches & Mentors, if you have a description of your role feel free to share it in the comments!

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