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Teacher mentoring: Learning in the workplace through dialogue and reflection

Beutel, Denise A. & Spooner-Lane, Rebecca S. (2008) Teacher mentoring: Learning in the workplace through dialogue and reflection. In Proceedings of the 2008 Australian Teacher Education Association National Conference, Australian Teacher Education Association, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, pp. 17-29.

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Abstract

Teacher education equips beginning teachers with critical knowledge and skills about teaching and fosters an understanding of learning in and from teaching (Norman & Feiman-Nemser, 2005). However, some of the most significant aspects of teaching are only learned in the workplace when beginning teachers actually commence teaching. Beginning teachers require assistance in making the transition from student teaching to teaching students. The support provided to beginning teachers in the early stages of their careers is crucial to the quality of their professional experiences and their continued professional learning(Carter & Francis, 2001). Mentoring is a key strategy for assisting beginning teachers to successfully navigate their way into the profession (Pitton, 2006). Having a mentor should advance beginning teachers far beyond what they could achieve unaided (Wells, 2002).

Expert mentoring not only allows beginning teachers to develop competence more quickly (Darling-Hammond, 2003) but also lays the foundation for innovative professional practice (Evertson & Smithey, 2001). However, mentoring is a symbiotic relationship in which mentors also benefit from the mentoring process. These benefits include encouraging reflections on one's own knowledge, beliefs and practices and a renewal and revitalization of practice (Murray, Mitchell & Dobbins, 1998), thus building capacity in the profession. While mentoring enhances the capacities of beginning teachers the presence of a mentor alone is not sufficient. The success of mentoring relationships lies in the skills and knowledge of mentors. While mentors must have deep insight into teaching and teaching practices, mentoring requires a new set of skills that includes being able to clearly articulate their practices and helping and supporting adults so as to facilitate their learning (Rhodes, Stokes & Hampton, 2004). Mentoring relationships are most effective when mentors are trained for their roles (Pitton, 2006; Wong, 2005). While mentor preparation is the single most important factor in contributing to mentoring success (Sweeny, 2008), few teachers receive formal training to prepare them adequately for mentoring roles.

The purpose of this paper is to report on the implementation and evaluation of a mentoring development program that was piloted in a State High School located in rural Queensland. The program was designed to build mentoring capacities in experienced teachers through engagement in dialogue and reflection. The researchers sought to determine the effectiveness of mentor training in equipping mentors with the necessary knowledge and skills to be able to support and facilitate the development of teachers in the early stages of their careers. Qualitative data was collected from participants in the mentoring program at the end of each module and, in the final module, a focus group interview approximately 60 minutes in duration was facilitated by the authors and recorded. The findings of this study are discussed in this paper and will be used to inform the development of future programs which promote the continued professional development of both mentors and mentees.

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ID Code: 15186
Item Type: Conference Paper
Additional URLs:
ISBN: 0977568512
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 15 Oct 2008
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2014 08:48

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