ERG SES G14, Mentoring and Education
The overall purpose of the study is to give a practice-oriented perspective on the mentoring assignment, as part of teachers´ professional practice in upper secondary school in Sweden. The aim of this paper is to analyze how teachers transform and manage the mentoring assignment, and more precisely by focusing on the documentation requirements in the task. The questions are: How do the teachers do the documentation? What kind of documentation do they do? Why are they doing this documentation? With whom do they share the documented information? The objective is to reveal what kind of problems that appears, how they are resolved and how the teachers´ collaboration with other actors interconnect and intertwine.
Previously the instructions for teachers´ work as class superintendents were distinctly expressed and regulated in governmental policy. However, today the term class superintendent has almost disappeared in laws and policy documents. Instead the term has been replaced or synonymously used with the term mentor. It is now the principal’s responsibility to delegate instructions to the teachers. This means these policy documents provide local school organizations and teachers with opportunities to interpret and transform the mentoring assignment themselves. This has resulted in tensions and differences in the mentoring assignment and its´ document requirements (Skolverket, 2010).
There is a subsequent demand for documentation that can be understood as part of the educational restructuring in Europe (Goodson & Lindblad, 2010). The policies for upper secondary school state that teachers are expected to store information about for example the student´s school situation and time for contacts with the student and the student´s parents. In addition, Swedish authorities have also established a Government for School Inspections that receives notifications from students and parents. Consequently, the school management has become anxious about what teachers store information about in the mentoring work.
This paper is designed with regard to a dialectical activity theoretical approach (Engeström, 1987). The theory can be summarized with the following five principles (Engeström, 2001: 136; 2009:56): (i) The activity system is the prime unit of analysis, (ii) an activity system is multi-voiced, (iii) an activity system take shape and get transformed over lengthy periods of time and therefore it is necessary to study it historically, (iv) contradictions are historically accumulated structural tensions within and between activity systems and the driving force of change in activity, (v) activity systems move through long cycles of qualitative transformations. A point of departure is that the mentoring assignment is emerging through tensions and contradictions in the teachers´ work. The object of activity is a moving target and it is not reducible to short-term goals (Engeström, 2001: 136).
From a research perspective the mentoring assignment in upper secondary school in Sweden is generally unexplored. Previous research has a special educational perspective (Möllås 2009; Nordevall 2011). When dialogues between mentors and students are in focus the research interest has been processes of governmentality (Granath 2008; Asp-Onsjö, 2006, 2011). My contribution to the research field is to give a practice-oriented perspective on the mentoring assignment. Furthermore the goal is to contribute to the research field about educational restructuring in Europe (eg Goodson & Lindblad, 2010) and the multifaceted research field about supervision and mentoring (eg Åberg, 2009).
Asp-Onsjö, L. (2006). Åtgärdsprogram – dokument eller verktyg? En fallstudie i en kommun. Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis. Göteborg Studies in Educational sciences 248. Göteborgs universitet. Asp-Onsjö, L. (2011). Dokumentation, styrning och kontroll i den svenska skolan. Educare nr 2:2011, s. 39-56. Malmö Högskola. Engeström, Y. (1987). Learning by expanding: an activity theoretical approach to developmental research. Dissertation, Helsinki: Orienta-Konsultit. Engeström, Y. (2001). Expansive Learning at work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualization. Journal of Education and Work, vol 14, No 1, 133-155. Engeström, Y. (2009). Expansive learning. Toward an activity-Theorethical reconceptualization. In (eds) Illeris, K. Contemporary theories of learning. London: Routledge. Goodson, I. F. & Lindblad S. (2010). Professional Knowledge and Educational Restructuring in Europe. Rotterdam: Sense Publications. Granath, G. (2008). Milda makter! Utvecklingssamtal och loggböcker som disciplineringstekniker. Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, Studies in Educational sciences 263. Göteborgs Universitet. Möllås, G. (2009). ”Detta ideliga mötande.” En studie av hur kommunikation och samspel konstituerar gymnasieelevers skolpraktik. School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University. Dissertation Series No 8. 2009. Nordevall, E. (2011). Gymnasielärares uppdrag som mentor. En etnografisk studie av relationens betydelse för elevens lärande och delaktighet. School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University. Dissertation Series No 12.2011. Skolverket (2010). Risk för IG – gymnasierektorer om skolors stöd till elever som riskerar att inte nå målen. Stockholm: Fritzes. Åberg, K. (2009). Anledning till handledning. Skolledares perspektiv på grupphandledning. School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University. Dissertation Series No 9. 2009.
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