01 SES 01 A, Mentoring
Teachers’ professional development can be promoted in a variety of ways. In a Finnish network called Osaava Verme, which is financed by the Ministry of Education and Culture, support is offered for the newly qualified teachers and their professional know-how is updated. Additionally, in Osaava Verme the national level networking for developing induction phase support is promoted and research and development is done both nationally and internationally (Heikkinen, Jokinen & Tynjälä, 2012).
In Osaava Verme, the experienced teachers are trained to become peer group mentors (PGM) for newly qualified teachers. In the training arranged by Helsinki University Teacher Education are processed themes like teacher identity, experiential mentoring, empowering photography and group dynamics and the so called creative growth task. Besides seminars, this training consists of intermediate and final tasks.
The final task in the PGM-training of Helsinki university is the creative growth task in which the participants create the performances of their development as teachers and mentors. This creative growth task carries out the main principles of Osaava Verme PGM-training: dialogue, autonomy, narrativity, peer experiences, constructivism and integrative pedagogy (Heikkinen, Jokinen, Markkanen & Tynjälä, 2012).
The form of the creative growth task is not controlled because the aim is to promote different kinds of knowledge. Although the creative growth performance is presented to other participants of the training, the main idea is to support the performers’ own identity as a teacher and a mentor. The creative growth task is for the maker itself, not for the performance, or the others.
Because the creative growth task is purposefully uncontrolled and free, both in the form and content, it awakes the intrinsic motivation of a Finnish teacher, who is accustomed to autonomic action on his/her profession. While preparing the task the teacher/participant reflects his/her pedagogical thinking and experiences as teacher and the mentor. The process of becoming a peer group mentor is illustrated and at the same time he/she positions his/her role and its impact on the school practices. Teachers' knowledge and descriptions of the growth are very often narrative by nature (Elbaz 1992) and in tasks like this the narrativity also gives an order to the materials in the presentation/performance. (cf. Alasuutari, 1993).
In narrative and performative presentations the emotions are involved and expressions are often metaphoric. Metaphors are reflections of creative thinking and work as the tools of professional empowerment. Metaphors may generate various kinds of associations and one metaphor may represent different kinds of perspectives. Metaphors model experiences with the vocabulary of another area of experience. (cf. Aro, 1999, 41–45.)
Teachers’ professional development and personal identity formation are intertwined. The teachers’ experiences of their work and of the PGM-training are connected to the personal and professional identity Supporting personal identity can have an impact on the professional development when the teacher has – for instance – a possibility to bring forward his/her own story (Stenberg, 2011; Hänninen, 2006). Identity in general, and teacher identity likewise, manifests itself at three levels. As Côté and Levine (2002, pp. 131–134) describe, teacher identity formation is a continuous process between the ego, personal and social levels, through which identity can be approached.
In research, the focus is on two questions: 1) What kind of forms of presentation did the participants of PGM-training use in their creative growth tasks? 2) What perspectives channeled the participants approach the creative growth task?
Cote, J., & Levine, C. (2002). Identity formation, Agency, and Culture: A social psychological synthesis. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. Heikkinen, H.L.T; Jokinen, H. & Tynjälä, P. (2012) Peer-group mentoring for teacher development. London: Routledge Heikkinen, H. L. T, Jokinen, H., Markkanen, I., & Tynjälä, P. (toim.) (2012). Osaaminen jakoon. Vertaisryhmämentorointi opetusalalla. Jyväskylä: PS-kustannus. Hänninen, S. (2008). Voimaantumisen kehitysohjelma persoonallisen identiteetin ja ammatillisen kehittymisen tukijana. Teoksessa A. Eteläpelto & J. Onnismaa (toim.) Ammatillisuus ja ammatillinen kasvu (s. 191–217). Aikuiskasvatuksen 46 vuosikirja. Vantaa: Kansanvalistusseura ja Aikuiskasvatuksen tutkimusseura. Ruohotie, P. (2008). Metakognitiiviset taidot ja ammatillinen kasvu asiantuntijakoulutuksessa. Teoksessa A. Eteläpelto & J. Onnismaa (toim.) Ammatillisuus ja ammatillinen kasvu (s. 106–122). Aikuiskasvatuksen 46 vuosikirja. Vantaa: Kansanvalistusseura ja Aikuiskasvatuksen tutkimusseura. Stenberg, K. (2011). Working with identities – promoting student teachers’ professional development. University of Helsinki. Faculty of Behavioural Sciences. Department of Teacher Education. Research Report 321. Syrjäläinen, E., Jyrhämä, R., & Haverinen, L. (2004). Praktikumikäsikirja. Helsingin yliopiston opettajankoulutuslaitos. Studia Pædagogica 33.
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