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Teachers mentoring teachers: A process of reflection and rejuvenation

Dr Denise Beutel & Dr Rebecca Spooner-Lane, Queensland University of Technology

Context • Beginning teachers – Expected to take on the same responsibilities as more experienced colleagues – High attrition rate • Rural settings – – – – Disproportionate numbers of beginning teachers Isolation Away from families and friends Teaching in subject areas outside area of expertise .

Mentoring • Widely used strategy for providing guidance and support for beginning teachers • Many mentors are provided with little or no training Mentor training is the single most important factor in contributing to mentoring success (Sweeny. 2008). .

Aims of the paper – to report on the planning and implementation of a mentoring program designed to develop mentoring capacities in experienced teachers – evaluate the mentoring program .

Mentor training From providing emotional support assisting beginning teachers through dialogue and reflection • The characteristics of adult learners • Effective communication skills • Encouraging mentees to reflect on their practice (Evertson & Smithey. 2001) .

Mentoring and the mentoring role          What is mentoring and why do we need mentor training? Different models of mentoring Roles and responsibilities of mentors Characteristics of effective mentors Building successful mentor-mentee relationships Developing strong interpersonal skills Understanding the principles of adult learning Understanding the stages of teacher development Identifying the concerns of beginning teachers Module 2.  Promoting similar reflective teaching practices in mentees.Mentoring program content Module 1. The process of mentoring Module 3: Understanding the support needs of mentees  Raising awareness of the needs and concerns of beginning teachers  Developing a framework for identifying and understanding the critical tasks of teaching  Identifying and understanding the principles underlying reflective practice  Utilising the cycle of reflective practice.     Identifying the stages of the mentoring process Work-life balance Developing action plans for the future The art of letting go Module 4: Planning for the future: Examining career pathways .

role plays .Mentor training program Participants – 8 teachers commenced the program but only 4 completed all the modules – All teachers from the same high school in rural Queensland – Mentoring program run in parallel with program for beginning teachers Pilot program – 4 days of workshops over a period of ~6 months (last half of school year) – Case studies.

Data collection and analysis • Interpretative study using qualitative data • Data collection » Focus group interview » Personal reflections of the authors • Data analysis » Iterative process » Common themes emerged from the data .

I’ve tried the things that my mentor suggested. this and this. he’ll [mentee] say I’ve tried this. . but that doesn’t seem to work either” (Teacher E). “She’s had a particularly bad experience with a parent recently.Results and discussion Mentors still perceived themselves as experts (transmission mode evident) “If there’s a problem with a child and we’re talking about it. So I’ve had to work with her and also speak to the parent in terms of that” (Teacher M).

Results and Discussion (cont. . That really helps. especially because I didn’t want to come out and say this is what you should do… So I used some of the techniques because my first person was quite confident.) Mentoring viewed as something done to mentees (rather than with them) “She was very stressed. and the sort of person you could give little hints to. “So really do the explicit teaching to the mentee before they go and teach. So I probably used some of the techniques that I learnt on her.” (Teacher S). and that was a really successful unit she did” (Teacher M).

But the personal and where she was at emotionally. It wasn’t my preoccupation. things like that” (Teacher W).Results and discussion (cont. Informal relationships perceived as more successful “The most successful stuff has been the sit down at the end of the day or at lunch time and jut start chatting and going through things. That’s been more successful than anything organized” (Teacher E).) Mentoring focused on providing emotional support “We never got to discussing classroom practice. .

sharing of strategies. observational feedback (Direct and explain) .Stages of the mentoring process Third StagePeer support & collegial relationship (Delegate) Second StageMentee more self-directed in skill development & self-reflective (Collaborate) First StageModelling of skills.

Discussion While mentor program seemed to help mentors to support mentees. it did not appear to promote deep reflection of teaching practices (by mentors or mentees). .

academic.Where to from here? • Revise mentoring program • Greater focus on developing mentors as collaborators and co-enquirers • Greater focus on getting mentors to reflect deeply on their own practice » Question underlying (and often deeply held) beliefs and assumptions » Question why they are doing what they are doing (personal. social and political consequences of what they are doing) .

understanding. co-enquirer) Characteristics of effective mentors Establishing and building successful mentor-mentee relationships Understanding the principles of adult learning Developing a framework for identifying and understanding the critical tasks of teaching Identifying. coach.g. critical friend. advocate. Mentors and mentees as reflective practitioners         Module 3: Understanding the support needs of mentees Module 4: Developing a mentoring culture . Mentoring and the mentoring role       What is mentoring and why do we need mentor training? Different models of mentoring (e. and using the principles underlying reflective practice Promoting similar reflective teaching practices in mentees Raising awareness of the needs and concerns of beginning teachers Developing effective communication skills (including difficult conversations) Understanding the stages of teacher development Identifying the concerns of beginning teachers Identifying and understanding the stages of mentoring relationship Developing a school culture of enquiry and reflection Module 2. role model.Revised mentoring program-proposed content Module 1. as guide.

. This is significant as “the most powerful learning comes about within „communities of practice‟” (Wenger.Conclusion The development of reflective practices should form an integral component of mentoring programs. For it is through these shared reflections and discussions of and around practice that communities of practice are created. 1998).

spooner@qut.au .edu.beutel@qut.au Dr Rebecca Spooner-Lane rs.edu.Contact details Dr Denise Beutel d.