Should A Student Leader Be A Mentor Or Monitor?

It is a big challenge for the class teacher to find the best monitor for the class, one who can help discipline the class, lead the class and be the role model. We really need to have in place the leader who can inspire, must value his position and commit to be disciplined. Monitors are often 'high handed',  are not able to live up to the position of responsibility and be impartial in their delivery. The authority of the teacher may not be a sufficient deterrent power at hand with the Monitor of the class. We need the an opinion maker, a leader, an individual best suited for being Mentor, in place of a Monitor.
When the cat is away, the mice are out to play! This often happens when a class teacher steps out of the classroom and young people are left to themselves for a while.

Monitor is one who admonishes, cautions, or reminds, especially with respect to matters of conduct. Also defined as 'a pupil who assists a teacher in routine duties'. A wise and trusted counsellor or teacher is a Mentor. It is a Mentor who is best suited to lead us and  not the Monitor who is there to only watch us and goad us. Class Monitors have the rights and duties to assist the class and subject teachers to maintain a good order in their own classroom.

Monitors as supervisors are required to lead by example (modelling, mentoring, influencing) such that their subjects stay ethically robust in their work, fostering practice wisdom and ethical maturity. At times, supervisors are also working with people who struggle in this regard, indeed supervisors may also struggle themselves.

Mentoring today has even become a profession, most of us look up to a 'guru' a leader who will leave footsteps on the sand for us as 'marg darshan'.  Mentoring is a powerful personal development and empowerment tool. It is an effective way of helping people to progress in their careers and is becoming increasing popular as its potential is realised.

A mentor may be a peer, when we look back to our days at school we will find some individual who really held our hand and did more than just a Monitor could in a class. In school often students help each other to sail through many a tough times. From class work, assignments to emotional support the role of a peer as a mentor is very important. A Monitor must be a mentor, his circle of influence must be beyond a small group, then alone the class will look up to the student leader.
The Role of  a Monitor in the classroom, must be like a Mentor for life.
Who should you choose to lead your class? Having the best set of Prefects in a school or putting in place a School Council is always a major task in every calendar year for the school staff. How to find a Monitor who can be a Mentor? We have a list of attributes that is not complete, it will help you make your own. Find the best individual to be the leader of the class, group or a house in the school.
  • Peer pressure, a young person will first succumb to pressure from friends and individuals he or she has in the circle of friends and well wishers. This is a big challenge, a test and even the single most issue in terms of delivering discipline or leadership in a class.
  • Value system, is the key to assess an individual's integrity and ability to be valued.
  • Physical strength, may look as a way to have delivery with brute force, this is often not a good way to find the best person to supervise or monitor a group.
  • Excellence in study, individuals best in academics are often too committed to their cause and will not really want to be the leader you need.
  • Individual with a skill,  is a potential leaders, they may sometimes be a little eccentric though!
  • Good in a sport, this could be the quality of a team builder, his lack of performance in the class may not make him the best mentor. Often sports participants have a great following and are able to drum up a band of cheer leaders.
  • A great communicator, will be motivator, but not always the true deliverer.
  • One who tries to appease the teacher, this individual may often be referred to as one who appeases for self needs, is not much appreciated by peers.
  • A child of a person of influence, often gets to be a monitor, this individual may not be the best choice as a mentor.
  • Compassionate and loving, individuals are best mentors and great monitors too, they are able to win friends and influence people.
The challenges above and the need to develop students as good leaders is what we really need to look at. Mentor or Monitor, it is the real leader who can deliver and make the true difference in leading by compulsion or leading by example.
The Student Leader  must be a Mentor, not simply the one who will be the Monitor or 'minds a class'. We need to look at the attributes of good student leadership to be able to find the best mentor for the class, instead of appointing a class monitor to merely supervise and be the Pied Piper.
Essential qualities for a student leader:
1. Integrity:  Leaders must be true to themselves.  Leaders who behave consistently with their value system inspire trust in their followers and are seen as honest.  Leaders need to know themselves well to be true to their values as well as to create a vision for their group that comes from the heart.
2.  Autonomy:  Leaders must be self-directed.  Individuals who can act without an authoritative figure telling them what to do each step of the way. Such individuals can make the decisions necessary to move their group along towards its goals. Leaders need to see options, make choices and solve problems in order to direct themselves and others. 
3. Group Dynamics:  Leaders must involve group members. Those who assign tasks appropriately to followers and incorporate group members’ ideas into the group vision recognise that they cannot be leaders without followers.  
4. Human Relations:  Leaders must use the human touch. Individuals who create an organisational environment in which all participants feel welcome, respected and valued, are exercising their power well, can maintain group membership and energy. 
5. Positioning:  Leaders must see the big picture.  Leaders need to know which tasks require the help of those outside their own group. 
6. Task Effectiveness:  Leaders must get the job done. Competent leaders match tasks to followers’ abilities and motivations, provide training and understand time management.

These may seem very hard to find in the average student and as much a challenge for the average teacher to spot too. Task delivery is undoubtedly the key point in finding the right person for the right assignment.

Prefects and Class Monitors as mentors are members of the student body who have to be chosen as good role models for others and are willing to help make the school a safer place too. They play a very important role in taking ahead the mission of the school.

1. Qualities of Student Leadership - from Troy University website
2. Mentoring versus monitoring: Juggling relationship, discomfort and task - Australian Institute of Relationship Studies
3. Images have been sourced  from  Google User Content online and this blog ( claims no design or copyright please.

The author  Sandeep Dutt takes the onus of the content and the opinions expressed are his alone. You may please email the author on for comments if any. For more about the author

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