10 SES 12 B, The Roles of School-based Mentors in Initial Teacher Training
This research — of a constructive-collaborative nature — seeks to answer the question: What is the contribution of hybrid activities to the professional development of experienced teachers in their learning-to-be mentors processes considering the first phases of the Hybrid Mentoring Program (HMP) at the Teachers Portal of the Federal University of São Carlos (www.portaldosprofessores.ufscar.br), Brazil?
The research’s goals are: 1. to describe and analyze the characteristics, contents, procedures, and outcomes of hybrid mentoring formative activities considering the professional development of experienced teachers as mentors; 2. to understand how the proposed hybrid activities contribute to experienced teachers in their learning-to-be mentor's processes construction of new knowledge and autonomy.
The mentoring program in question adopted a hybrid perspective aimed at child education, elementary school, youth and adult education, novice teachers with less than five years of experience. The first phases of the program – when experienced teachers were initially trained to become mentors – were carried out by a university researchers' group in partnership with 14 experienced teachers during eight months. These teachers presented a diverse professional experienced background and more than ten years of classroom teaching practices in one of the considered educational level.
Hybrid learning is specifically geared towards promoting participant through the innovative adoption of online and face-to-face learning activities. The strength of integration between synchronous face-to-face communication and online asynchronous communication is powerfully complementary to achieve planned educational purposes. There is a distinct multiplier effect in integrating verbal and written modes of communication that sustains communication and learning over time. The teaching presence is emphasized especially in a formative community. The responsibilities of the teaching presence are distributed within the learning community members, but are not diminished; the importance and challenges are only magnified. In this sense, “the pedagogical presence is reinforced when the participants become more metacognitively aware and are encouraged to assume a growing responsibility and control of their learning” (Vaughan, 2010, p.13).
The hybrid learning it also refers to the need to overcome the usual disconnection between university-school and between teacher training and performance in view of the initial and continuing teacher educational processes. This can be promoted by means of the rejection of the dichotomies of practical knowledge and academic knowledge and theory and practice, since it is considered that individuals, in their processes of attribution of meaning, make use of innumerable discourses (Zeichner, 2010).
Its theoretical framework also includes literature on teacher learning and professional development (Shulman 1986, 1987), the first years of teaching (Grossman, Thompson & Valencia, 2001; Van Zanten & Grospiron, 2001), mentoring processes (Weiss & Weiss, 1999, Wang & Odell, 2002), reflection on educational action (Hatton and Smith, 1995; Rodgers, 2002; El-Dib, 2007), teacher-educator professional identity development (Lasky, 2005; Snoeckx, 2003). We consider teacher learning and professional socialization as being founded on experiences lived by teachers and their ways of learning and are influenced by affective, ethical and performance factors. These are lifelong processes. The professional learning also occurs within the context of practice. It contributes to the construction of a knowledge base composed of a set of understandings, knowledge, skills, and dispositions – needed for effective practice in specific teaching and learning situations of different types – that support teachers' decision-making processes.
The continued teacher education programs, as the HMP mentors´ education, should be adapted to teachers’ specific needs and their teaching and future mentoring contexts. These programs characteristics entail collaboration, mutual understanding, consensus-building, democratic decision-making and common actions (Clark et al., 1996, 1998), and consenting to the coexistence of multiple ideas when signifying and building solutions to problems, considering the researchers and the experienced teachers.
The research design adopted in this investigation can be characterized as action-research founded on constructive-collaborative strategies (Cole & Knowles, 1993). Its main sources of data were: written communications between future mentors, and the research group members, mentors' reflexive journals and other written narratives related to the proposed formative hybrid activities and reports on observations at weekly meetings between mentors and researchers. As it was assumed that this data comprised a set of narratives about the promoted processes, some analytical routines had to be established. Its investigation steps, data collection tools, and analysis were defined by the researchers alone; the HMP activities were defined by the researchers and mentors considering their formative needs to become a novice teacher’s hybrid mentor. The intervention with the novice teachers was constructed jointly between researchers and mentors. Specifically, to answer the research questions it was necessary to describe and analyze the characteristics, contents, procedures, and outcomes of hybrid mentoring formative activities in the first phases of the HMP. The initial training of future mentors aimed that the experienced teacher learns how to be mentor, adopting a hybrid perspective. The conducted activities blended face-to-face weekly meetings – between the future mentors with the researchers and graduate students at the university – and a set of tasks in a virtual learning environment (VLE), specifically in Moodle. This training lasted 110h and it was developed along five months, organized into the following modules: 1st - “Constructing the HPM and knowing their participants(experienced teachers and researchers)” (30h); 2nd - “Novice teachers and Mentoring Programs in perspective” (38h); 3rd - “Digital technologies and the hybrid teaching” (22h), 4th - “ The HPM and novice teachers formative needs” (20 h). Throughout these processes, experienced teachers produced different narratives (journals, reflexive diaries, teaching cases) in order to analyze the accomplished training path, resuming their initial expectations and motivation to participate in the HMP, analyzing faced learning and challenges in their teaching professional development and their expectations to be a novice teacher’s mentor, and their first impressions about the start of the beginning teacher mentoring. The data selected for the analyses presented in this paper come from these narratives.
The experienced teachers revealed the following aspects regarding the formative process: their motivation to participate in the HMP; the desire to learn about professional development; share and exchange their professional experiences with different professionals and to contribute to other teachers’ professional learning. Considering their learning, they pointed that the formative process made possible that the participants were able to: develop abilities to deal with LVE, including abilities to edit and set the environment; comprehend hybrid learning and mentoring concepts, its characteristics and intervention possibilities; recognize formative needs, for both novice teacher and mentor; amplify their knowledge on teacher’s action and teaching characteristics; learning about how to be a mentor, which abilities and knowledge mentors need to have. The HPM formative process contributed to the reflection process on the personal teaching practices; enhancement of their perception about their professional development, especially about the beginning of their career; the challenges they experienced and how they were faced; the support they received; changes in the way they interact with peers at work; in the evaluating their students; the development of a more accurate look at daily teaching practice; the improvements in their writing; the recognition that they are immersed in a continuous learning process. Additionally, it was also possible to identify tools that generate those aspects that the proposed individual and collective activities promoted: the reflexive process; feedback writing; editing the VLE; the tutors’ feedback, theoretical readings and case studies analysis; experience exchange with other educational professionals (experienced teachers, novice teachers and researchers); the look to its own personal professional journey; analyzing their teaching practices i.e. to bring back their memories about the experienced difficulties and dilemmas when they were novice and also remember the solutions adopted to deal with it.
Clark, C. et al. (1996). Collaboration as dialogue: Teacher and researchers engaged in conversation and professional development. American Educational Research Journal, v.33, n.1, pp.193-232. Clark, C. et al. (1998). Continuing the dialogue on collaboration. American Educational Research Journal, v.37, n.4, pp.785-791. Cole, A. & Knowles, J.G. (1993). Teacher Development Partnership Research: a focus on methods and issues. American Educational Research Journal, v.30, n.3, pp.473-495. El-Dib, M. A. B. (2007). Levels of reflection in action research. An overview and an assessment tool. Teaching and Teacher Education, v.23, n.1, pp.1-24 Grossman, P.; Thompson, C. & Valencia, S. (2001). District Policy and Beginning Teachers: where the twain shall meet, Research Report, Center for Study of Teaching and Policy, University of Washington. Hatton, N.; Smith, D. (1995). Reflection in teacher education: toward definition and implementation. Teaching and Teacher Education, v.11, n.1, pp.33-49. Lasky, S. (2005). A sociocultural approach to understanding teacher identity, agency and professional vulnerability in a context of secondary school reform. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21, pp.899-916. Rodgers, C. (2002). Defining Reflection: another look at John Dewey and reflective thinking. Teachers College Record, v.4, n.104, pp.842-866. Shulman, L.S (1987). Knowledge and teaching: foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57, n.1, pp.1-22. Shulman, L.S. (1986). Those who understand: knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, v.15, n.2, pp.4-14. Snoeckx, M. (2003). Formadores de professores, uma identidade ainda balbuciante. In: Altet, M.; Perrenoud, Philippe; Paquay, Léopold e col. A profissionalização dos formadores de professores. Trad. Fátima Murad, Porto Alegre: Artmed, pp.21-40. Van Zanten, A.; Grospiron, M. F. (2001). Les carrières enseignantes dans les établissements difficiles: fuite, adaptation et développement professionnel. VET Enjeux, n.124, pp.224-268. Vaughan, N. (2010). A blended community of inquiry approach: Linking student engagement and course redesign. The Internet and Higher Education, v.13, n.1–2, pp.60–65. Wang, J. & Odell, S.J. (2002). Mentored learning to teach according to standards-based reform: a critical review. Review of Educational Research, v.72,n.3, pp.481-547. Weiss, E.M. & Weiss, S.G. (1999). Beginning Teacher Induction. ERIC Digest: ED436487. Zeichner, K. (2010). Rethinking the Connections Between Campus Courses and Field Experiences in College-and University-Based Teacher Education. Journal of Teacher Education, 61, pp.89-99.
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