10 SES 11 A, Teachers as Agents of Change and Mentors
In Australia and internationally governments are advocating for the improvement of pre-service teachers’ experiences during practicum (“Action now: Classroom Ready Teachers”, Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group Report, 2015; Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD], 2011). Research has shown that the quality of a pre-service teacher practicum may largely be dependent on the mentoring and the supervisory support pre-service teachers’ receive (Hudson & Hudson 2010; Grossman 2010). Quality mentoring has benefits to both the pre-service teacher (mentee) and supervising teacher (mentor) (Starkey & Rawlins 2011). For the pre-service teacher quality mentoring supports their understanding of teaching, learning and provides insights into how school and classrooms operate along with developing teaching practice (Flavian, & Krass, 2015). For the supervising teacher mentoring provides unique opportunities to reflect on, and improve their own teaching practice, with the opportunity to contribute to the professional development of the next generation of teachers (Ambrosetti, 2014). However, as mentoring approaches and strategies vary widely, there is a need for a greater understanding of effective mentoring partnerships (Hobson, Ashby, Malderez & Tomlinson, 2009). This study furthers our understanding on effective mentoring partnerships and how they support professional learning during an extended practicum placement.
Research Question: How did the dyad partnerships support effective mentoring and professional learning during an extended practicum placement?
The nature of a mentoring relationship adopted by mentor/mentee has implications for developing teaching practice as well as the professional learning of the mentee and mentor. According to Aspfors and Bondas (2013) the quality of the mentoring relationship is at the core of both teaching and communication within the school community. Quality mentoring provides equal opportunity in the relationship, with both partners taking on participatory roles. It is suggested that pre-service teachers, “clearly expressed a desire to be viewed as partners ” in their own learning process (Flavin & Krass, p.37, 2015). It can be argued that effective mentoring must move beyond emotional support, brief technical advice or mere occupational socialization to a working partnership where mentors and mentees are “co-thinkers who engage in productive consultations” (Feiman-Nemser, 2001, p. 22). A strategy to support collaborative mentoring in education is the use of Instructional Rounds (IR). IR’s provide a structured way for dyads to work together to improve their practice through the cycle of observation-analysis-discussion-implementation, supporting an inquiry-based approach to mentoring (City, Elmore, Fiaman & Teitel, 2009).
The Educative Mentoring concepts outlined by Feiman-Nemser (2001) provided a useful framework for analysing the differing dyads’ mentoring relationship and interactions that occurred during the practicum. The concept of Educative Mentoring where mentor and mentee work together to mutually promote professional learning and growth for both parties is characterised by five interrelated ideas:
1. Creating a positive culture: this involves establishing positive expectations, meaningful support and collaborative learning.
2. Explicit vision of good teaching: this includes the articulation of practice and linking theory and practice.
3. The cultivation and promotion of skills and knowledge: this involves stimulating reflective thinking and the development of an enquiry stance to practice.
4. The use of knowledge and expertise to assess the pathways: this includes the creation of meaningful learning opportunities for both mentor and mentee.
5. The support of learning from experience: this involves the mentor supporting the mentee to make sense of complex situations, cultivate an individual style and to foster a vision of good teaching practice.
Feiman-Nemser (2001) five interrelated concepts of effective mentoring enabled the researchers to make sense of the data and to reconstruct the perspectives of the participants in the study, reflecting the unique mentoring partnerships that existed during the practicum.
Ambrosetti, A. (2014). ‘Are You Ready to be a Mentor? Preparing Teachers for Mentoring Pre-Service Teachers’, Australian Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 39, no. 6. Aspfors, J., & Bondas, R. (2013). Caring about caring: Nearly qualified teachers' experiences of their relationships within the school community. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 21(51), 1-17. Bogdan, R., & Biklen, S. (2007). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theory and methods (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education Inc. City, E. A., Elmore, R. F., Fiarman, S. E., & Teitel, L. (2009). Instructional rounds in education: A network approach to improving teaching and learning. ERIC. Feiman-Nemser, S. (2001). Helping novices learn to teach: Lessons from an exemplary support teacher. Journal of Teacher Education, 52(1), 17-30. Flavian, H., & Krass, E. (2015). Giving students a voice: Perceptions of the pedagogical advisory role in a teacher-training program. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 23(1), 37-53. Grossman, P. (2010). Learning to practice: The design of clinical experience in teacher preparation, policy brief, report prepared for American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education & National Education Association. Hobson, A. J., Ashby, P., Malderez, A., & Tomlinson, P. D. (2009). Mentoring begin- ning teachers: What we know and what we don’t. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25, 207–216. Hudson, P. & Hudson, S. (2010). ‘Mentor educators’ understandings of mentoring preservice primary teachers’, The International Journal of Learning, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 157-170. Kvale, S., & Brinkmann, S. (2009). Interviews: Learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing Sage. Merriam, S. B. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. revised and expanded from" case study research in education.". ERIC. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). (2011). Building a high quality teaching profession. Paris, France: Author. Starkey, L., & Rawlins, P. (2011). Teaching Practicum in 21st Century New Zealand, Ako Aotearoa, National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG). (2015). Action now: Classroom ready teachers. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government.
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