10 SES 14 B, Mentoring Student and Early Career Teachers: The role of teachers as teacher educators
The number of novice elementary school teachers is rapidly increasing in Japan. Mentor systems are widely used at school for the development of novice teachers. One of the most important roles of mentors is to develop mentees to be self-directed teachers through improving the instructional ability of novice teachers (Ikuta: 2009). Thus, mentoring has received considerable attention. However, how mentors interact with novice elementary school teachers in Japan or what is effective coaching by the mentors is neither discussed nor developed.
In Japan, most mentors are retired teachers who had worked as teachers for a long time. The ways of developing novice teachers depend on those mentors who are apt to force their successful past experiences on novice teachers (Goto: 2013). Some studies point out harmful effects of the mentoring system when the system totally relies on the mentors (Kanai: 2009). Such mentor system may, in effect, prevent the self-directed development of novice teachers (Ehrich: 2004). Based on these information, the author has identified the gap between the current mentoring system and the needs of the novice elementary school teachers who want to develop their own self-directed professional learning (Goto: 2013). In other words, while novice teachers are asking mentors for support to solve the problem that they are faced with, mentors still put emphasis on formal methods of instruction.
Engeström (2007) presented a general design of developmental work research (Engeström: 1991b, p.80). This theory describes a process that centers on proactive learning based on the needs of the practitioner, which eliminates the difficulties that can impede development. This learning activity aims to create problem-solving tools, for example, solution models, concepts of instruction, and vision through interventions (formative interventions), which bring out proactive action of the practitioner through negotiation dialogues. The practitioner achieves their goals through the problem-solving tools created through the negotiation dialogues with interventionists. Regarding the basic design of the interventions, Engeström (2007) described the role of the interventionist (in this study, the mentor), “The crucial idea here is that a task is never just the task the experimenter (interventionist: in this study, the mentor) designed. It is always interpreted and reconstructed by the subject (in this study, the novice teacher) by means of his or her internalized ‘psychological instruments’ that cannot be strictly controlled from the outside. The researcher (in this study, the mentor) has a substantive contribution and must often be very determined and systematic in offering that contribution” (Engeström: 2007, p.17). (The information in parentheses was added by the author.)
Based on Engeström’s theory, this study suggests that this approach can define abilities and the attitude required for mentors as interventionists. Previous studies (e.g., Goto: 2013, Pogodzinski: 2014) showed that it is critical not to force methods of instruction on novice teachers but to give attention to their awareness and create an environment (a process of breakthrough) where they can interact with children in different ways and improve their competency. This study, therefore, discusses the following research questions based on Engeström’s concept of formative interventions:
(1) What kind of formative interventions do mentors execute when novice elementary school teachers set a problem or task to solve, and how does it affect the novice teachers to become self-directed?
(2) What kind of formative interventions do mentors execute when novice elementary school teachers are solving a problem or a task, and how does it affect the novice teachers to become self-directed?
(3) What kind of functions mentors should have in order to develop self-directed novice elementary school teachers?
Participants and procedure: This research was conducted as a part of the trainings for novice teachers in elementary schools in Japan from 2008 to 2010. Three novice teachers and three mentors were involved in the trainings. One of the authors participated in the trainings as a researcher who advised the mentors according to Engeström’s theory for novice teachers’ self-directed development. Individual interviews with the mentors and the novice teachers were conducted. The author took observation field notes in each fieldwork for 779 hours in total. Each case was below: (1)A mentor and a novice teacher in a public elementary school in Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo (2)Two mentors and two novice teachers in a public elementary school in Ota-ku, Tokyo Method: According to the basic design of the interventions presented by Engeström (2007), this study used action research (Lewin: 1948). That is, as a researcher, I observed and recorded the formative interventions by the mentors that supported the self-directed development of the novice teachers while involving myself in overall matters of the formative interventions. Before starting the mentoring project, I provided the mentors with the outline of the study and guidance of the formative intervention theory by Engeström (2007). The research data consisted of three sources: the interview data with the mentors, the interview data with the novice teachers, and the observation data recorded by one of the authors. Analysis: Analysis of the interview data of the mentors and the novice teachers and the author’s recorded observations (records of the mutual negotiations between the mentors and the novice teachers) was conducted according to the concept name extraction method shown in the Modified Grounded Theory Approach (Kinoshita: 2006 p.200-201), which is based on the Grounded Theory Approach (Glaser and Strauss: 1967, Strauss and Corbin: 1998). By checking the analysis results of the interview data of the mentors and the novice teachers and the author’s recorded observations, I conceptualized the elements of the formative interventions of the mentors that promoted the self-directed novice teachers and clarified the mentor function.
This study aimed to clarify the mentor function, which supports the development of self-directed novice teachers. As a result, “building a relationship of trust,” “listening to the needs of the novice teachers,” “value addition to the practices of novice teachers,” and “creation of cooperative activities for interactive learning” were extracted as the basic functional concept of the mentors. Moreover, due to lack of experience, the novice teachers were faced with situations where interventions such as “why did you use that instruction method used?” and “what would students obtain from that instruction method?” are required for their instruction methods. In such situations where the mentors carried out continuous inquiries, we extracted a concept of mentors’ function, “set the direction for problem-solving with emphasis on the process where the novice teachers subjectively address issues through mutual negotiations”. The interventions in this study do not intend to seek tasks or solutions to the tasks provided by a mentor but are based on the recognition that a novice teacher independently sets and solves his or her tasks. The functional concepts extracted from this study are in line with the idea that the interventions should not be conducted by imposing the mentors’ personal successful experiences to or on the novice teachers but should be the support for addressing the immediate needs of novice teachers (Goto: 2013, Pogodzinski: 2014). These results are consistent with Engeström’s theory of formative interventions: “a task is never just the task the experimenter designed.” The interventionist “has a substantive contribution” (Engeström: 2007, p.17). Thus, this approach of interventions to facilitate the development of self-directed novice teachers was confirmed. This study demonstrated the mentors’ functional concepts supporting the development of self-directed novice teachers.
Asada, T. (2007) Student Teaching in Kindergarten: Functions of Mentoring (Annual Report of Educational Psychology in Japan published by The Japanese Association of Educational Psychology) 46,156-165． Ehrich, L. C., B. Hansford, and L. Tennet. (2004) Formal Mentoring Programs in Education and Other Professions: A Review of the Literature. Educational Administration Quarterly 40, 518–40. Engestrӧm,Y.(1991b) Developmental work research: A paradigm in practice. The Quarterly Newsletter of the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition, 13, 79-80. Engeström, Y. (Translated by Yamazumi, K., Matsushita, K., Yurikusa, T., Hosaka, Y., Shoi, Y., Tedori, Y., and Takahashi, N.) (2007) Learning by Expanding: An activity-theoretical approach to developmental research. Shin-yo-sha. Engestrӧm, Y., Sannino, A. (2010) Studies of expansive learning: Foundations, findings and future challenges. Educational Research Review 5, 1-24. Ikuta, T. (2009) Development of Teacher Training System based on Mentoring and e-learning [Report of Research Results obtained under the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research]. Goto, I.(2011) Collaborative Learning Design for Developing Novice Elementary School Teacher Competency: The Role of Management Personnel under the Theory of Expansive Learning [Annual Bulletin of The Japanese Society for the Study on Teacher Education] 20, 111-120. Goto, I. (2013) Problems in the Developing System (Mentoring System) for Novice Elementary School Teachers [New Training Theory to Support the Growth and Development of Novice Elementary School Teachers] Gakujutsu Shuppankai, 101-114. Kinoshita, Y. (2006) Practice of Grounded Theory Approach: An invitation to qualitative research. Koubundou. Lewin, K. (1948) Resolving Social Conflicts: Selected Papers on Group Dynamics. Harper & Row. Minoura, Y. (2009) Fieldwork Techniques and Practice II: Analysis and Interpretation. Minerva Shobo. Nakahara, J., Kanai, T. (2009) Reflective Manager: Top notch people always reflect on themselves. Kobunsha. Pogodzinski, Ben. (2015) Administrative Context and Novice Teacher-Mentor Interactions. Journal of Educational Administration 53, 40–65. Teaching Ability Improvement Division of the Training Department of the Tokyo Metropolitan School Personnel in Service Training Center (2008) Guidelines for novice teacher training, newly-appointed teacher training and fixed term (temporary) teacher training. Tokita, E. (2010) Developing Competencies of Beginner Teachers under the Guidance of their Mentors: Focusing on the acceptance of the competency development of beginner teachers and the basic principle of guidance [Annual Bulletin No. 19 of The Japanese Society for the Study on Teacher Education] 90-100. Tomihisa, K. (2008) Research on the Leadership-related Advisory Function of the School Principal in Support of Developing Competencies of Teachers. Kazamashobo. Watanabe, M., Hirata, F. (2008) Introduction to Mentoring. Nikkei Inc.
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