10 SES 09 E, Research on Teacher Induction and Early Career Teachers
This research — of a constructive-collaborative nature — seeks to answer the question: What are the themes and interactional patterns evidenced in the conversations between mentors and their mentees considering their participation at the Hybrid Mentoring Program (HMP) at the Teachers Portal (www.portaldosprofessores.ufscar.br) of the Federal University of São Carlos, Brazil?
The research goals are to describe and analyze the themes and interactional patterns evidenced in the dyad conversations composed by experienced teachers (mentors) and the novice teachers they follow. The mentoring program in question adopted a hybrid perspective aimed at child education, elementary school, youth and adult education, and novice teachers with less than five years of experience. The first phase of the program, during eight months, 14 experienced teachers with diverse professional experienced background and more than ten years of classroom teaching practices in one of the considered educational level were initially trained to become a mentor in partnership with a university researchers' group. The second phase of the program, considered as the main analysis context in this study, lasted about 10-12 months and it is characterized by the virtual interactions between the mentors and each of the mentees they followed composing a dyad.
Hybrid learning is specifically geared toward promoting participation 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 (Vaughan, 2010, p.13).
The hybrid learning 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).
With the use of a virtual learning environment (VLE) ) it is conceived that the social interaction placed and promulgated in pairs, groups and social communities of practice can constitute sources of development and learning of professional knowledge. The continued teacher education programs, as the HMP, should be adapted to teachers’ specific needs and their teaching. 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
In HMP case, the main modes consist of intergenerational dialogues, which in this case involve: the contact and discussion between professionals with different experiences and career times, between mentors, beginners, and university educators/researchers, using narratives and reflexive processes among the participants as fundaments. All these aspects are essential for the professional development of teachers of the interlocutors (Orland-Barak, 2006), regardless of their time of operation. By means of interlocution, exchanges, joint work and shared responsibility (Orland-Barak, 2006, Timperley, 2015) conditions can be created for the joint interpretation of practical concepts and experiences, accompanied by projections about future work, since it is a rich opportunity to rethink conceptions and practices through reflective processes, and to imagine them reconfigured in the future (Horn et al, 2017).
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 mentors and their novice teachers. As we assumed that this data comprised a set of narratives about the promoted processes, some analytical routines had to be established. Specifically, to answer the research questions, it was necessary to organize the mentors-mentees conversations in a timeline after the identification of excerpts; to describe and analyze the themes and interaction patterns evidenced in the dyads composed by experienced teachers (mentors) and the novice teachers they follow; and to understand the course of the dialogues held between the participants of the dyads along about of 10-12 months of interactions. For data analysis, we conceived that interlocution between mentor and beginner throughout the HMP consists of a set of intergenerational conversations that occur over a period, in which the sequence of records on the experiences is relevant because they indicate the unfolding from the treatment given to the focused themes. This is important as it longitudinally contains the configuration of the story of each mentor-mentee dyad conversation considered. In this sense, it is a mutual system, which is in constant movement and development (Souza, Araújo and Paula, 2015). The use of a VLE such as Moodle allows the use of multiple media and is recognized as reserved and secure, as well as allowing the registration of advances and returns/retakes regarding the topics addressed and actions were taken in the HMP, as is the case of its iterative character. In order to achieve the proposed objectives, a qualitative exploratory and descriptive study was carried out, considering the occurrence of conversation over time, in the case of a period of 10-12 months. Specifically, we sought to identify the themes covered and the way in which mentors and beginners participating in the HMP used the features of Moodle. The analyses are presented focusing on the mentors’ relations with one of the supervised novice teachers they follow, selected from their longer time of participation in the HMP. The data selected for the analyzes presented in this paper come from the narratives of three dyads selected from their longer time of participation in the program, and they are considered as each dyad mentoring trajectory.
The dyad conversations in the 2º-4º months revealed it to be a period for mentors and the novice teachers to get to know each other, with the mentor learning about the novice teacher´s background and actual teaching experiences. In the 6º-8º months, pedagogical practices emerge as the main theme discussed the within the dyad conversations. A variety of topics in the mentor-mentee conversations were observed: personal teaching theoretical conflict/divergences of pedagogical conceptions between peers/flexibility regarding theoretical-practical conflicts; teaching content mastery/organization; teaching, learning and student conceptions; teacher planning and evaluation; pedagogical mediation; interaction with students; indiscipline/conflict resolution; school-family relationship. The conversations exams, focused on the mentors´ approach and held between mentors and their mentees, showed that they presented diverse patterns along the conversations regardless of idiosyncratic aspects. The empathic pattern can be described as relative or based on the mentors putting themselves in the novice's shoes; caring about them, being understanding and responsive to the mentees placements. It is permeated by sensitive listening and respectful speech related to the mentors' performance. The directive pattern can be understood as that in which the mentor guides, instructs, indicates procedures, materials, orders, and generally directs the mentee. In the propositional pattern, the mentor recommends, opines, suggests, encourages, proposes constructively, stimulates, inspires, etc. with the intention of the novice teacher achieving a goal or performing a successful activity in order to expand her teaching knowledge base. In the inquiring pattern the mentor seeks to complement their knowledge through the search for additional information, or the joint examination with the mentee under new perspectives through questions, inquiries about the conceptions, intentions, proposals, and actions of the novice teachers. Implications of these results to the mentors´ professional development, to novice mentoring programs, and to the adoption of the hybrid approach are all considered.
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