01 SES 01 C, Professional Identity, Agency and Self Image
- Educational research has thoroughly examined the contribution of mentoring for the well being and the professional growth of beginning teachers throughout their induction stage.
- This presentation will focus on a qualitative study which examined the contribution of the role of personal mentoring to the shaping of teacher mentors' professional identities and their professional development.
- A most significant component of the induction stage of beginning teachers is mentoring (Spooner-Lane, 2017). Mentoring has become so widespread that it is sometimes used interchangeably with induction (Fletcher et al., 2008).
- Mentoring is defined as an activity, a process and a relationship that extends over time between an experienced teacher and a less experienced beginning teacher (Aspfors and Franson, 2015). It is based on personal guidance provided by experienced teachers to beginning teachers in school settings in order to assist them develop their professional expertise (Hobson, 2009). Personal mentoring has been found to be highly significant for the induction of the beginning teacher (Jhonson, 2004).
- In the Israeli setting, mandatory induction has been practiced since 2000, while supporting the beginning teacher both with a personal mentor assigned by school and by a reflective supportive workshop, assigned by the teacher training institute. The personal mentor is a professional colleague of the beginning teacher who is assigned to support the beginning teacher at school personally, socially, emotionally and professionally (Nasser-Abu Alhija et al., 2011).
- While engaging in his/her complex mentoring job, the teacher mentor undergoes a multi-aspect process of shaping of his own task perception (Schatz-Oppenheimer, 2011) and, hence, it is assumed, of his professional identity, as well.
- Postmodern theories of identity assert that the individual interweaves simultaneously a few identities, which are culturally and contextually oriented. Maclure (2001) asserts that identity should not be seen as a stable entity, that is, something that people have, but rather as a site of struggle or, a form of argument, both practical and theoretical, that people use in order to justify, and make sense of themselves in relation to other people. (Maclure, 2001). Similarly, Schachter asserts the individual entertains multiple identities which coexist in varied contexts; these are shaped and reshaped throughout life. (Schachter,2004).
- Kelchtermans (1993a; 1993d) and Kelchtermans and Vandenberghe (1994) biographical studies drew on an interactionist approach to the professional self, which they conceptualized as a complex, multi-dimensional, and dynamic system of representations, that develops over time as a result of the interactions of the teacher with his/her environment. They have proposed a comprehensive model of identity called: a teacher's interpretive frame, which is composed of two basic theoretical constructs: a teacher's professional self – reflecting a conception about oneself as a teacher and a teacher's subjective educational theory – reflecting a system of knowledge and beliefs concerning teaching as a professional activity. Kelchtermans (1993a) proposed the following figure to reflect a teacher's interpretive frame (See Figure 1).
- 1- Descriptive self-image;
- 2-Evaluative self-esteem;
- 3- Job motivation;
- 4- Job satisfaction
- 5-Narrative task perceptions
Subjective Educational Theory
Figure 1 Kelchtermans (1993a) A model of a teacher's interpretive framework
Rationale of the Research:
This case study examined how experienced teacher mentors interpreted and conceptualized their professional identities in line with the two aspects constituting the theoretical model of a teacher's interpretive frame. It explored how teacher mentors interpreted their professional self in line with the six constructs of a teacher's professional self and how they conceptualized their subjective educational theory. The research questions were:
1- How do experienced teacher mentors interpret and conceptualize their professional selves?
2- How do experienced teacher mentors interpret and conceptualize their subjective educational theories?
Methodological Approach: In order to unpick on such key constructs as professional identity and subjective educational theory, I adopted, within the contours of a qualitative-naturalistic paradigm, the phenomenological perspective to focus on people's experiences and interpretations of those experiences assuming that there are shared essences to experiences and that it is possible to analyze and compare them (Wanat,C.L.,2006). I focused on the interpretive- naturalistic approach (Massimo M. and Alfredo P.,2015), which granted me an access into the teacher mentors' interpretive frames and subjective understandings concerning their identities (Kelchtermans 199a; Kelchtermans& Vandenberghe,1994). I applied a case study methodology (Hamilton L. and Whittier C., 2013) in order to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the teacher mentors who were found within 15 school settings (5 elementary ; 10 high schools) in Southern Israel. Data Gathering: The data were gathered by means of a semi-open interview; it lasted on average 3 hours. Its log was structured in line with the six constructs constituting the professional self and the subjective educational theory of teacher mentors, both of which construct a teacher's interpretive framework. The leading questions were phrased as follows: A- Professional Identity: (a) Descriptive self-image: Who are you as a teacher-mentor? Which metaphor best describes you as a teacher mentor? (b) Evaluative Self- Esteem: How do you evaluate your mentoring? (c) Job- motivation: What motivated you to enter mentoring? What motivates you to pursue mentoring? (d) Job- satisfaction: What in mentoring provides you with satisfaction? (e) Narrative Task Perceptions: Which roles should you perform as a teacher-mentor? (f) Future Perspective: What's your vision regarding your mentoring in the future? B- Subjective Educational Theory: Who are you as an educator?; Who are you as a teacher- mentor? (These questions were introduced at the beginning of the interviews). Participants: 15 educators, teaching varied disciplines, from Southern Israel with 6 to 30 years of experience in education and substantial experience in mentoring: 7 male teachers, 8 females; 5 were formally trained for mentoring while 10 weren't; 5 worked in elementary schools and 10 in high schools; 6 were from the Arab sector and 9 from the Jewish sector. The mentors were veteran educators who had gained a thorough experience in teaching, in education and in mentoring. Analysis: Analysis was informed by grounded theory coding procedures. The interviews were analyzed by means of thematic analysis. ( Creamer E.G., 2018;Brauna and Clarkeb, 2016).
Findings: (A) Six constructs of a mentor's professional self were exposed: 1-Descriptive self- image: (a) General qualities: The mentors were oriented towards a beginning teacher's emotional- professional needs. (b)Task Orientation: 8 mentors were oriented towards the beginning teacher's needs ; 6 were oriented towards the beginning teacher's needs and his/her students' needs. (c) Metaphors: 6 out of 15 mentors held either 'leadership' or 'soft' metaphors. 2- Evaluative Self- Esteem: 3 mentors self-assessed their mentoring; 3 assessed their mentoring drawing on their mentees' feedback. 3 -Job- motivation, Recruitment: 3 teachers got into mentoring by their own initiative, other 8 entered mentoring following a managerial request. Endurance at Mentoring: 10 out of 15 mentors sustained mentoring following a strong sense of: satisfaction, professional competence or educational mission. 4 -Job – Satisfaction: 4 mentors derived their satisfaction from their mentees' feedback; 4 derived satisfaction from serving as educational models. . 5 -Narrative Task Perceptions – Two categories were exposed: (a) A mentee- oriented mentoring, (b) A school-oriented mentoring. 6 -Future Perspective- 4 mentors were definite about their intention to pursue mentoring, but 3 declared their wish to quit mentoring. (B) Subjective Educational Theory: The mentors expressed value-laden educational theories. They focused on the individual student's well being. They stressed their mission towards establishing a new generation of qualitative teachers. Conclusions: The contribution of this study is three-fold. Methodologically, it serves as a model of how to explore the professional identities of other professionals in teaching as it followed the useful, systematic model of a teacher's interpretive frame of Kelchtermans (1993a) and Keltchtermans G. and Vandenbergh, R.,(1994). Theoretically, exploring both aspects of mentors' identity paved the way to delineating a conceptualization of a mentor's interpretive frame. Practically, this study demonstrates how to best construct in service training courses for practicing and would be teacher mentors.
-Aspfors, J. and Fransson, G., 2015. Research on mentor education for mentors of newly qualified teachers: A qualitative meta-synthesis. Teaching and Teacher Education, 48,75-86. -Brauna V. and Clarkeb V., 2016. (Mis)conceptualising themes, thematic analysis, and other problems with Fugard and Potts’ (2015) sample-size tool for thematic analysis International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 19, (. 6), 739–743. - Creamer E.G., 2018. Enlarging the Conceptualization of Mixed Method Approaches to Grounded Theory With Intervention Research. American Behavioral Scientist, Vol.62(7), pp.919-934. -Fletcher, S.H., Strong, M.A. and Vilar, A., 2008. An investigation of the effects of variations in mentor-based induction on the performance of students in California. Teachers college record, 110(10),2271-2289. -Hamilton L., and Whittier C., 2013. Using Case Study in Education Research. United Kingdom, London: SAGE Publications Ltd. -Hobson, A.J.et al., 2009. Mentoring beginning teachers: What we know and what we don't. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25, 207-216.10.1016/j.tate.2008.09.001[Crossref],[Web of Science], [Google Scholar] -Keltchtermans, G.(1993 a). Getting the Story, Understanding the Lives: From Career Stories to teachers' professional development. Teaching and Teacher Education. Vol 9. No 5,6 443-456. - Jhonson, S. M., 2004. Finders and keepers: Helping new teachers survive and thrive in our schools. San Francisco: Joessy-Bass. -Keltchermans, G. and Vandenbergh, R.,1994. Teachers' professional Development: A biographical perspective, Journal of Curriculum Studies, 26(1), 45-57. -MacLure, 2001. Arguing for your self: Identity as an organizing principle. In (Eds.) Soler, J., Craft, A. and Burgess, H. Teacher Development: Exploring our own practice.167-179. -Massimo M. and Alfredo P., 2015. Disentangling the self. A naturalistic approach to narrative self-construction. New Ideas in Psychology 40 (2016) 115-122. -Naser Abu-Alhija, F., Presco, B. and Reichenberg, R., 2011. The first Year of Teaching – An Overview. In Shatz-Oppenheimer et al. (Eds.) To Be a Teacher: Throughout the Entry Path. 55-87. Tel-Aviv: Mofet Institute (In Hebrew). - Schatz - Oppenheimer, O. 2011. Stress, Conflicts and Complexity in Mentoring. In Shatz - Oppenheimer et al. (Eds.) To Be a Teacher: Throughout the Entry Path, 183-199. Tel-Aviv: Mofet Institute (In Hebrew). -Schachter, E. P., 2004. A new perspective on identity formation in contemporary identity society configuration. Journal of Personality, 72(1),167-200. -Spooner-Lane, R., 2017. Mentoring beginning teachers in primary schools: research review. Professional Development In Education. 43(2), 253-273. -Wanat C. L., 2006. Qualitative Research, History, Theories, Issues In: Ed. Fenwick W., English, Encyclopedia of Educational Leadership and Administration Thousand Oaks : SAGE Publications, 847-83 .
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