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Power relations : the intern and the mentor

Millwater, Jan & Ehrich, Lisa C. (2008) Power relations : the intern and the mentor. In Aspland, Tania L. (Ed.) 2008 Australian Teacher Education Association Conference, 8-11 July, 2008, Queensland, Australia.

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Abstract

Since the early 1990s, Faculties of Education in Australia and overseas have constructed internship models for final semester teacher education students as a means of transitioning them into the teaching profession. This paper provides a critique of one of the prevalent models which operates in the context of schools. Our methodology is to interrogate extant literature and research in the field and use examples to illustrate power relations drawn from present day interns. As Blase and Anderson (1995) found, teacher development does not take place in a vacuum. The reality of schools is one of a political world; a world of power and influence, bargaining and negotiation, assertion and protection of interests. Politics in schools is not confined to the higher levels of policy-making; it is a dynamic, operating in classrooms, in staff-rooms, with colleagues, parents and children. So does it exist between mentor and mentee, particularly if the mentee is a preservice teacher partnered with a mentor teacher undergoing an internship at the end of a course of study. This article explores the unique insider's view of school micropolitics within such a dyad. Micropolitical activity is described as "strategies by which individuals and groups in organisational contexts seek to use their resources of authority and influence to further their interests" (Hoyle 1986, 126). This paper focuses on the nature and extent of these strategies and draws upon a range of theoretical insights that explore power as a key ingredient in the mentoring relationship that exists between an intern (i.e. a fourth year, final semester undergraduate) and his/her mentor teacher. A key assumption of the paper is that power relations underpin all mentoring relationships and, the intern/mentor teacher dyad is no exception. This relationship can be conceptualised as both "dependent and helping" (Elmes and Smith 2006, 484); however it is intended that the relationship balances interdependence and autonomy. For this reason, the location of interns, neither fully accepted teachers nor complete neophytes, raises a number of critical issues and dilemmas that can be construed in terms of theories of power such as micropolitics. The paper concludes with key implications for schools, universities and personnel involved in facilitating student interns' transitioning into the profession.

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ID Code: 17134
Item Type: Conference Paper
Additional Information: The contents of this conference proceedings can be freely accessed online via the Association's web page (see hypertext link).
Keywords: Power, Interns, Mentoring, Mentor Teachers
ISBN: 0977568512
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators (130313)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > Schools > School of Cultural & Professional Learning
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA)
Deposited On: 06 Jan 2009 13:12
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2013 18:18

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