Mentoring in Teacher Education

Mentoring in Teacher Education

TEACHER EDUCATION - THE COOPERATING SCHOOL Contents Mentoring in Teacher Education Partnerships Between Schools and Higher Education Mentoring in Tea...

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TEACHER EDUCATION - THE COOPERATING SCHOOL Contents Mentoring in Teacher Education Partnerships Between Schools and Higher Education

Mentoring in Teacher Education P D Tomlinson, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK A J Hobson, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK A Malderez, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK ã 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

The mentor phenomenon (Little, 1990) has achieved a meteoric rise in teacher education internationally over the past couple of decades. While mentoring is now a major feature in various phases of teachers’ professional development worldwide, the present article focuses on the mentoring of beginning teachers during their initial teacher preparation (ITP) courses and subsequent early induction into teaching. Teacher mentoring is characterized by multiplicity in a range of aspects, from variations in meaning carried explicitly or implicitly by the term itself, through the emphases and strategies characterizing alternative approaches, to different ways of implementing and organizing mentoring in practice – all of these variously informed in turn by a range of ideas and theories relating directly or indirectly to professional learning. As background to the current research picture regarding beginning teacher mentoring, we briefly sketch the nature of its recent advent, the theories and perspectives potentially informing it, and the varying relations of such theoretical resources to practical mentoring.

Mentoring in Context: Advent, Theory, Versions The Advent of Teacher Mentoring The modern rise of mentoring in teacher education can be traced in large part to two relatively distinct origins in the 1980s. On the one hand, mentoring arrangements were introduced by educational policymakers at various levels, particularly in the USA, to contribute to teacher professional development, not least by way of mitigating the reality shock encountered by beginning teachers, but also as a means of rewarding and retaining the capable teachers who might take up the mentoring role (Little, 1990).

Mentoring also featured as part of alternative certification programs designed to increase the supply of teachers at points of need (Feiman-Nemser, 1990). At this point, the approach tended to derive from business management, where mentoring involved a one-to-one relationship with the prote´ge´ or mentee in which the more senior and experienced mentor was expected to combine a variety of functions, including teacher, sponsor, role model, and confidant. On the other hand, the 1980s also saw a more intellectually grounded development by teacher education institutions of new forms of teacher preparation centrally involving field-based mentoring. A prime example among several in the UK was the Oxford University Internship Scheme, a radical attempt to tackle what its developers saw as major problems endemic in the traditionally dominant pattern of teacher education. The new scheme placed central emphasis on the role of the mentor, a subject teacher who took primary responsibility for the professional education in classroom teaching of one or two intern students, within a systematic partnership arrangement negotiated between the university education department and the schools involved. Comparable higher education-based initiatives were also seen in North America during this period (Feiman-Nemser, 1990), with policy groups and educationists calling for a more substantial involvement of schools in teacher preparation. Since then, there have been moves in many countries toward beginning teacher mentoring. Perhaps the most clear-cut of these occurred in the UK, where in 1992–93 the government mandated that student teachers in England and Wales should henceforth spend at least two-thirds of their courses in schools, where practicing teachers should play a major role in supporting their attainment of government-specified teaching competences (now standards).

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Table 1

Recent perspectives on teacher professional knowledge and its acquisition

Perspective 1. Reflective practice

2. Craft knowledge

3. Personal practical knowledge 4. Practical reasoning 5. Explicit teacher knowledge 6. Values and personal engagement 7. Constructivism

8. Study of expertise 9. Cognitive psychology of skill 10. Situated cognition and learning

11. Implicit cognition and learning

Central features Emphasis, associated particularly with Dewey, on the importance of conscious problem-solving for effective practical action; Scho¨n’s extension to include thinking within the course of action as well as outside it, plus his rejection of the traditional idea that professional capability is simply the application of abstract knowledge (Teaching) craft as situated intelligent know-how involving intuitive sensitivities, awarenesses, and action capabilities; anchored in personal experience and educable through reflection, but not reducible to explicit rules, principles, or routines. Associated particularly with Grimmett, who draws on aspects of 1, 7, 11, and 12 Associated particularly with Elbaz; strong overlap with 2, but recognition of explicit theory as well as theory embedded in action. Connelly and Clandinin emphasize the embedding of knowledge in teachers’ personal narratives and metaphors Emphasis mainly by philosophers on role of explicit critical thinking and argument in deciding on and justifying educational actions Focus on what types and content of declarative knowledge are required as a basis for effective teaching. Associated particularly with L.S.Shulman’s emphasis on integration of subject knowledge with pedagogical insight Teaching seen as a craft that is inherently moral by way both of affecting persons and requiring commitment and motivation from persons, which are thus integral aspects of teacher professional capability Originally a psychological theory that human awareness, knowledge, and capability are formed not just passively by the impact of external reality, but also by an interplay between this and what the person brings to the encounter with it and how they actively think about issues. Disagreements among proponents as to how far the influence of such individual preconceptions and processes can be modified by outside/social agents, and as to the epistemological consequences of a constructivist psychology Recently developed psychological investigation of characteristically complex human forms of capability and their development, typically by means of expert–novice comparisons Post World War II psychological study of skill and skill acquisition, originally using informationprocessing models and focusing on simple manual activities, later extending to more complex capacities, including social skills Psychological–anthropological stance arguing that knowledge and capability are gained within and relate to particular social and historical situations, as opposed to dealing to abstract generality. Cognitive capacities are seen as typically distributed across and involving coordination among members of social groups, and inherently involving use of tools, whether physical or conceptual Philosophical tradition, mainly associated with Ryle, emphasizing that intelligent action capability or knowing how does not necessarily involve explicit declarative knowledge or knowing that. Recent experimental psychological research confirming not only that cognitive processes involved in action may occur unconsciously, but that acquisition of some kinds of capability may occur without conscious deliberation

Theories and Research on Teacher Professional Knowledge and Learning Concurrent with the above developments, the same period also saw substantial growth in theorizing and research on the nature and development of teaching capability, under the label of teacher (professional) knowledge. Munby et al. (2001) and Tsui (2003) provide useful reviews of this now extensive work, which has yielded a range of perspectives, derived from various analytical, theoretical, and empirical bases. Table 1 briefly characterizes the major representatives, which are covered more substantially by various other entries in this encyclopedia. Drawing implications from such sources for teacher mentoring and development requires recognition, on the one hand, that these perspectives are not only distinguishable, but that, as Munby and his co-authors emphasize, there are various kinds of issues and tensions among

several of them. To this can be added that even in their own terms, some positions are themselves subject to critiques and alternative versions. Nevertheless, it is equally important, on the other hand, to make clear that, in various ways and to varying degrees, these perspectives overlap and combine to support a number of general themes of relevance to teacher education, including school-based mentoring. Table 2 indicates these themes and their degree of support from different sets of perspectives. The most notable theme concerns the centrality of practical experience for the development of professional know-how (Table 2, theme A), which is supported in differing respects by the great majority of the perspectives cited. However, any tendency to replace the traditional privileging of theory in teacher education by exclusive experientialism would, for example, be countered by a range of support for the importance of conscious reasoning

Mentoring in Teacher Education

Table 2

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Professional learning themes and their supporting perspectives

Theme

Source/perspective

A Professional learning requires practical action and experience

Ephasized by: Reflective practice; craft knowledge; personal practical knowledge; study of expertise; cognitive psychology of skill; implicit cognition and learning; situated cognition and learning. Included in: Values and personal engagement; constructivism; practical reasoning; explicit teacher knowledge. Emphasized by: Explicit teacher knowledge; reflective practice; practical reasoning; cognitive psychology of skill. Included in: Constructivism; study of expertise; values and personal engagement; personal practical knowledge. Emphasized by: Craft knowledge; reflective practice; personal practical knowledge; study of expertise; cognitive psychology of skill; implicit cognition and learning; Included in: Situated cognition and learning Emphasized by: Constructivism; cognitive psychology of skill Included in: Reflective practice; practical reasoning; explicit teacher knowledge; values and personal engagement; study of expertise Emphasized by: Study of expertise; cognitive psychology of skill Included in: Constructivism Emphasized by: Values and personal engagement; Included in: Reflective practice; personal practical knowledge; craft knowledge.

B Importance of explicit knowledge and conscious reasoning/reflection

C Intuitive character of developed know-how

D Power of learner-teachers’ pre-conceptions E Developmentally staged nature of professional learning F Promotion of responsible autonomy

and declarative knowledge (theme B). Purposefulness and explicit problem solving are also important aspects of a somewhat neglected precursor of the modern study of expertise, the cognitive psychology of skill (Table 1, perspective 9), which also provides a corrective to the behaviorist associations still characterizing much usage of this term (cf. Tomlinson, 1999). Thus differential emphases among these well-grounded perspectives may signal the complementary, combined importance of several themes, rather than competition between them as mutually exclusive alternatives. Tensions do nevertheless remain. Widespread indication that well-established components of skilled action and cognition tend to be deployed intuitively and unconsciously (theme C) does, for example, imply problems for potential communication of and reflection on teachers’ professional know-how, even if at the same time it helps explain the strength of the teaching and learning preconceptions (theme D) student teachers typically arrive with from their own lengthy experiences as school pupils. On the other hand, changing relationships between explicit and implicit processes in teaching development (Tomlinson, 1999) are illuminated by a further theme (E), the claim that progress toward relatively full professional capability tends to proceed through a series of developmental stages. While this would imply the need for different forms of learning assistance at these different stages, differences of detail among development models (e.g., Dunne, 1994; Furlong and Maynard, 1995) do raise further issues. Finally, the value-led personal engagement aspect of teaching (theme F) has received increasingly explicit consideration in recent decades, as well as being part

and parcel of the reflective, craft knowledge and personal practical knowledge approaches. Together with traditional humanistic psychological concerns, these sources make it clear that cognitive, emotional, and motivational support for the development of responsible professional autonomy must feature as a further basic strand in promoting teacher professional development.

Versions of Mentoring From the now considerable range of literature, it is noteworthy that the term mentoring is used with varied meanings, that is, to convey what are actually a range of somewhat differing concepts, that are typically complex and multifaceted. Such meanings of the term show the family resemblances typical of linguistic usage, in that different sets of mentoring conceptions have different common strands as well as differing contrasts. Important kinds of defining features at stake here include mentoring functions or purposes, strategies or ways of going about achieving such purposes, and contexts in which the activity is to be set. Thus, on the one hand, it seems clear that in teacher education over the last couple of decades, mentoring has moved on from the career-advancement focus of its early business model and come largely to mean assisting teacher professional development/learning (function aspect) on a one-to-one basis (context/strategy aspect) in the professional activity setting (context aspect). On the other hand, nevertheless, such a claim requires qualification at least in that: (1) some usages involve a more specific concept, for example, adding strategy criteria such as that by definition

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mentoring must include promotion of reflection or exclude explicit mentor evaluation of the mentee (e.g., Wang and Odell, 2002) and (2) the above conception is itself relatively general, admitting of considerable further differences of detail. Given these often subtle differences among mentoring conceptions, it is important not to take the meaning of the term for granted, but to establish the facets specifically defining any particular usage, whether explicitly or implicitly, conceptually or operationally. When one does this, it becomes apparent that existing versions of mentoring show considerable variation and idiosyncrasy (Wang and Odell, 2002). The relationship of practical developments in mentoring to theoretical ideas and research is difficult to track, but appears to have been both complex and evolving. School-based mentoring could itself be seen as an obvious embodiment of the practical experience theme noted above, and although its arrival in 1980s teacher education appears to have been prompted more substantially by policymakers or practitioner reaction to the traditional separation of intellectual learning and practical experience, Scho¨n’s ideas about reflective practice do seem to have acted as a particularly influential catalyst, judging by the speed and extent to which reflective vocabulary entered the discourse and espoused theory of teacher educators (Furlong and Maynard, 1995). However, the take-up of other perspectives listed in Table 1 has been less clear-cut and apparently more sporadic. In their extensive 2002 review of mentoring research, Wang and Odell did classify predominant assumptions underlying mentoring programs under three theoretical paradigms. However, this was a post hoc analysis and the authors made clear their view that none of these paradigms suffices alone, particularly for the mentoring of progressive reform-minded teaching. When we turn to the growing number of practical books on mentoring, we often find little reference to formal theoretical ideas, even if there is frequently linkage with research, often the authors’ own. Those that do make explicit reference to theoretical frameworks tend to do so within a paradigmatic pluralism which seems appropriate to the challenging nature of the practical field. Currently, such explicit usage of theoretical approaches in the context of educational research findings seems to be on the increase, at least as far as academic journal publications are concerned.

Research on Mentoring The last two or three decades have witnessed an explosion in the number of research studies and publications dealing with various aspects of mentoring. However, this work is decidedly disparate and few comprehensive studies are available. Furthermore, the evidence base relating to the

effectiveness of mentoring remains limited, doubtless partly because of the inevitable difficulties of disentangling the effects of mentoring from other kinds of process and influence. Nevertheless, a number of common and useful findings have begun to emerge with respect to the mentoring of beginning teachers. Effectiveness and Benefits From its modern outset, teacher mentoring has been seen as holding the promise of professional motivation and development not only for beginning teacher mentees, but also for teachers providing the mentoring, and thence benefiting schools and educational systems more broadly. Benefits for mentees Research suggests that one-to-one mentoring is an important, if not the single most effective, method of supporting and facilitating the professional development of trainee and neophyte teachers. A wide range of benefits of mentoring for beginning teachers have been documented, including reduced feelings of isolation, increased confidence and self-esteem, professional growth, increased self-reflection and problem-solving capacities, and the assimilation of their mentors’ practices. The benefits of mentoring featuring most commonly among research findings on this issue relate to mentors’ provision of emotional and psychological support, important because mentees’ emotional condition is argued to have wide consequences for their progress. A number of studies (e.g., Bullough, 2005; Moor et al., 2005) have reported evidence of mentors boosting the confidence and increasing the morale and job satisfaction of beginning teachers. Research also points to the impact of mentoring on different aspects of the developing capabilities of beginning teachers, most notably their behavior and classroom management skills, and their ability to manage their time and workloads (e.g., Moor et al., 2005). More generally, mentors have also been found to play an important role in the socialization of beginning teachers, in helping them to learn and adapt to the norms, standards, and expectations associated with being a teacher in a given context (Wang and Odell, 2002). Benefits for mentors A wealth of evidence coming predominantly from mentors’ own accounts indicates that mentoring beginning teachers tends to have a positive impact on the professional lives of mentors themselves. First, with respect to motivation and commitment, research has found that many mentors derive satisfaction from undertaking the mentor role, especially through seeing their mentees progress and noticing evidence of their own impact on mentees’ teaching development. Through the responsibility involved, through mentors feeling reassured when

Mentoring in Teacher Education

their ideas are validated by university tutors, feeling less isolated as teachers and enjoying increased collaboration and enhanced professional recognition, mentoring is thus found to consolidate mentors’ teacher identity and to increase their sense of self-worth. Studies report mentors claiming increased confidence in their own teaching, improved relationships with pupils and colleagues, and a generally revitalized or reenergized engagement with teaching. In a study typical of many others in its outcomes, Lopez-Real and Kwan (2005) found that 70% of mentors in a school–university ITP partnership program in Hong Kong claimed to have benefited professionally from their mentoring role. Reported gains included new and improved teaching strategies, enhanced knowledge and use of information and communication technology (ICT), improved communication skills, greater self-reflection, and increased knowledge and support capability with respect to the professional development needs of beginner teachers and others. There are multiple sources of potential impact upon mentors’ own learning via their involvement in mentoring beginning teachers. Perhaps the largest body of research evidence in this area relates to mentors’ learning through self-reflection or critical reflection on their own practice. Most mentors in Lopez-Real and Kwan’s (2005) study thus suggested that the mentoring process forced them to reflect on their own teaching, for example, because they ‘‘felt compelled . . . to account for and explain the reasons for their [teaching] methods’’ (p. 19), while many of the mentors involved in research conducted by Hagger and McIntyre (2006) were also said to have welcomed the experience because ‘‘it made them think about their own teaching’’. Mentors have also reported learning from their beginning teacher mentees, from their participation in mentor training courses, from university tutors in university– school partnership ITP programs and, more generally, from increased opportunities to talk to others about teaching and learning.

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mentoring. There is limited direct evidence of this to date, though in the UK Moor et al. (2005) noted a number of additional benefits for schools involved in this kind of mentoring program. We now turn to what research tells us about the conditions under which the benefits of mentoring are most likely to be realized.

The Conditions for Effective Mentoring Contextual support for mentoring The success of mentoring programs in general and of particular mentoring relationships is influenced by a variety of contextual factors. The most consistent finding in this area is that mentoring is more likely to be effective where teacher-mentors are provided with additional release or noncontact time in which to prepare for and undertake the mentoring role, while successful mentoring is further facilitated where timetabling allows mentors and mentees to meet together during the working day. There is some evidence that mentoring is more likely to lead to positive outcomes where mentors receive financial reward and/or some other form of incentive or recognition for their work; where it is carried out in contexts which are relatively free from excessive emphases on externally determined goals and agendas; where mentors are committed to and involved in the design and evaluation of the broader programs of which mentoring is a part; and where such programs are coherently integrated and not characterized by fragmentation among the contributing school- and higher education-based teacher educators. Mentoring is also more likely to be successful where it takes place within schools which are characterized by collegial and learning cultures and which value learning teachers (Edwards, 1998), where both mentors and mentees have access to support outside of the mentoring relationship and where there are mechanisms in place for both mentee and mentor to initiate without blame the establishment of an alternative pairing.

Benefits for schools and educational systems

It might be expected that some of the above-reported benefits of mentoring would produce consequent gains for these teachers’ pupils and schools. The evidence on this particular outcome is limited, however, again partly because of the complexity of researching it. However, there is growing indication, largely from the United States, that mentoring programs for teachers in their first years in the profession can under certain conditions increase retention and stability, in that teachers who are mentored are both less likely to leave teaching and less likely to move schools within the profession (e.g., Johnson et al., 2005). It is also possible that schools and educational systems may benefit from the enhanced retention of those teacher-mentors who become more confident, committed, and capable as a result of their participation in

Mentor selection and pairing with mentees Research confirms that the success of beginning teacher mentoring is at least a partial function of the ways mentors are selected and paired with mentees: not all good or experienced teachers make good mentors, and not all good mentors make good mentors of all beginning teachers. Mentors should be effective practitioners who can model good professional practice and be professionally respected by their mentees, but perhaps most importantly of all, they should want to do the job and be committed to the work of mentoring. They need to be supportive, nonjudgmental and trustworthy, have a positive demeanor, possess good listening skills and the ability to empathize, as well as the willingness and ability to take an interest in beginning teachers’ work and lives.

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Mentoring has been found more likely to be successful where decisions about mentor–mentee pairings take account of mentees’ strengths and limitations, and where the mentor and mentee get along both personally and professionally. Mentoring also tends to be more effective, other things being equal, when mentors teach the same subject specialism as their mentees, but becomes less effective when the mentors are the mentees’ head teacher or deputy head teacher, the latter being explained in terms of more senior colleagues finding less time for mentoring and beginning teachers tending to be more inhibited by the high status of the mentor within the school staff structure (Hobson et al., 2007; Johnson et al., 2005). Mentoring strategies

Like all forms of teaching, mentoring is most effective where it addresses and responds to the needs of the learner/mentee. This means that mentors of beginner teachers should respect the individuality of their adult learner mentees, taking account of mentees’ particular learning styles and concerns by way of strategies that are appropriate to the stage of development they are at. However, as Wang and Odell’s (2002) review in the context of reform-oriented teaching reminds us, mentoring must keep sight of its particular goals. Thus, there are indications that early in the mentoring relationship, mentors should help mentees identify and engage in critical interrogation of their conceptions of teaching, learning to teach, and mentoring, including discussion of the nature and advantages of different forms of reflection, since these can otherwise present barriers to mentees’ professional learning and development. Mentors should also seek to agree with mentees the individual goals of the mentee and the objectives of the mentoring relationship, and should revisit and review these objectives and goals periodically and, where appropriate, revise them. While the extent to which mentors are able to address mentees’ individual needs can be pivotal to the success or otherwise of mentoring, research has also found a number of general approaches, strategies, and tactics to be effective and likely to be valued by beginning teacher mentees. First, effective mentors provide their mentees with emotional and psychological support, make them feel welcome, accepted and included, and are approachable. Second, effective mentors are those who not only dispose of sufficient time and do spend time with their mentees, but also do so on a regular basis. Third, effective mentors allow their mentees an appropriate degree of autonomy to make decisions and to develop their own teaching styles, while not being too laissez-faire or hands off. Fourth, a considerable number of studies have found that one of the most valued aspects of the work undertaken by mentors with beginning teachers is lesson observation (both of and by the mentee) which involves analysis of the processes involved. Mentors’ observation of the lessons of their

mentees tends to be valued most where the objectives of the observation are agreed upon in a preobservation conference, and where the postobservation conference focuses on specific aspects of mentees’ teaching and includes constructive comments from the mentor. It should be conducted in a sensitive, nonthreatening way, providing an opportunity for genuine dialog in which there is joint explanation and exploration of perceptions leading to agreement on the strengths and weaknesses of the mentee’s teaching. The latter deserves some emphasis in the light of indications of teacher mentors failing to challenge their mentees’ assumptions sufficiently (e.g., Edwards, 1998). The dialog should also include discussion of the likely impacts of observed teaching actions and leave the mentee with clear ideas on how he/she might overcome any problems and work toward improving weaknesses. Such discussions would also hopefully be located within attempts to scaffold mentees into deeper levels of thinking and reflecting about teaching and learning. Finally, a number of writers have argued from a variety of perspectives that collaborative teaching, including planning and reflection, by teacher mentors and their mentees offers a mentoring strategy with strong potential for realization of many of the themes listed earlier in Table 2. Apart from a small number of exceptions (e.g., Burn, 1997), however, research on such a strategy is so far notable by its absence.

Mentor preparation and support Many have argued that since even excellent school teachers may not be effective facilitators of adult professional learning and because the mentoring role is a relatively new one that can clash with traditional norms and structures of teaching (Little, 1990), it is important to provide mentors with preparation and support. This should be practical and specific, including strategies for functions such as observation and discussion of mentee teaching, promoting mentee reflection, and discussing pedagogical issues with them. But on the basis of research findings (e.g., Bullough, 2005) and the kinds of modern perspectives on professional knowledge and learning mentioned earlier, it is equally conclusive that such preparation must go beyond the behavioral inculcation traditionally associated with training and include the cognitive resources and supported participatory opportunities needed to develop intelligent mentoring capability and identity. Writers such as Bullough (2005) suggest the utility of mentors engaging in discussion of mentoring with other teacher-mentors and university-based teacher educators. However, while Graham (1997) provides evidence that such forms of collaborative inquiry are effective in overcoming mentor isolation, the evidence base regarding the effects of different kinds of mentor preparation is generally still rather sparse.

Mentoring in Teacher Education

The Dark Side of Mentoring A number of commentators (e.g., Sundli, 2007) have castigated what they see as an uncritical optimism widely characterizing literature on mentoring in education. Warnings concerning what Long (1997) termed ‘‘the dark side of mentoring’’ are nevertheless equally longstanding and in recent years, such possibilities have been considered by several published studies. The overall pattern of evidence indicates that rather than being inevitable consequences inherent in mentoring per se, such downsides are functions of failure at various levels to ensure the sorts of conditions for effective mentoring considered above. This is nevertheless not to suggest that all conditions for effective mentoring are always achievable or, conversely, that their nemesis, the obstacles or sources of collateral damage to mentoring (Kilburg and Hancock, 2006), are always possible to overcome. Disadvantages of mentoring for mentors

Some studies attest failures to realize the sorts of potential benefits to mentors referred to above, but others indicate that mentoring can actually be disadvantageous or harmful to them. Three main problems are documented. First, many studies (e.g., Hobson et al., 2007; Moor et al., 2005) have reported mentors experiencing difficulties relating to increased and competing demands on their time as a result of their involvement in mentoring in addition to normal teaching roles. As well as impacting on mentors’ work–life balance and stress, this can also contribute to difficulties in accommodating the needs of their mentees. There seems to be no evidence of any related, negative impact on the learning of such mentor teachers’ own pupils, though this may be due to the lack of research or publication. Second, research has found that mentors sometimes experience feelings of insecurity, nervousness, threat, and even inadequacy at the prospect of their lessons being observed by mentees or by their mentees presenting new and challenging ideas (e.g., Bullough, 2005). Third, some studies have indicated that mentors can feel isolated in the role (e.g., Graham, 1997). There are indications in the research of such problems being caused or exacerbated by mentors being given insufficient or no additional time in which to carry out their mentoring duties, by a lack of preparation for the role, or by inadequate training that deals substantially only with its administrative aspects. Disadvantages for beginning teachers and educational systems: Limitations of mentoring in practice

Research on beginning teacher mentoring has also uncovered variation in the nature and quality of mentoring support provided and has documented evidence of poor

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mentoring practice, which has negative consequences for mentees, their schools, and wider education systems. There appear to be four main kinds of failings. First, some studies have found mentors failing to provide sufficient support for beginner teachers’ emotional and psychological well-being, characterized in many instances by general unavailability. In some cases the situation can be worse, with student teachers being overloaded or even feeling bullied (Maguire, 2001) by their school-based mentors. Second, and as noted, considerable research has suggested that some beginning teachers are not sufficiently challenged by their mentors – in some cases, by not being given sufficient responsibility or autonomy and freedom to innovate. Edwards (1998), for example, argued that partly due to the assessment framework of ITP in England and partly to protect their own pupils and their learning, primary phase teacher-mentors in their study tended to guide their student teacher-mentees into lowrisk activities. Third, numerous studies have shown mentors tending to see their role primarily in terms of the provision of safe sites for trial and error learning, focusing in their interactions with mentees on technicalities or performance issues such as classroom management and subject content, devoting little or insufficient attention to pedagogical issues and in particular to reform-minded teaching, to the promotion of reflection incorporating an examination of principles behind the practice, or to issues of social reform and social justice. Indeed, some studies (e.g., Sundli, 2007) have shown that some teacher-mentors hold a transmission perspective on teaching and learning, have a limited understanding of concepts such as critical reflection, continue to hold dualist notions of theory and practice, and lack the confidence to incorporate theoretical insights into their work with mentees. One outcome of such failings is that, in spite of the explicit aim of some mentoring programs being to reduce teacher attrition, they have actually contributed to trainee and beginning teachers withdrawing from their courses or dropping out of teaching (e.g., Hobson et al., 2007). A further potential consequence is that this restricted quality of mentoring serves to restrict mentees’ learning and development in a variety of ways. One finds little evidence, for example, of school-based mentoring achieving its oftenstated aim of reducing theory–practice dualism among beginning teachers and helping them to recognize and utilize the theoretical work covered in their ITP programs (Bullough, 2005). Not surprisingly, a number of studies have suggested that such restricted kinds of mentoring result in the reproduction of conventional norms and practices, rendering beginning teachers less likely to develop reform-minded and learning-centered approaches to teaching or to advance social reform and social justice agendas (Wang and Odell, 2002).

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Conclusion and Prospect Beginning teacher mentoring continues to establish itself evermore firmly worldwide and can draw on an increasing range of theory informing professional learning and useful findings from a burgeoning research effort in teacher mentoring. Nevertheless, while the multilayered complexity of teaching teachers ensures no fewer challenges to mentoring research than those facing pedagogy and pedagogical research generally, we must note, for example, that very few indeed of the studies informing this article went beyond accounts of mentoring by mentors and mentees themselves, or involved any meaningful comparison between the professional learning outcomes of persons receiving and not receiving mentoring support. It is to be hoped that while firmly retaining their methodological and philosophical criticality, future researchers in this field may also be somewhat more adventurous in their investigation of the effects, including both potential benefits and costs, of particular versions and strategies of beginning teacher mentoring. See also: Cognitive Psychology and Educational Statistics; Contemporary Approaches to Teacher Professional Development; Experienced Teachers’ Craft Knowledge; Memory; Partnerships Between Schools and Higher Education; School Development for Teacher Learning and Change; Situated View of Learning; Teachers Career Stages and Professional Development.

Johnson, S., Berg, J., and Donaldson, M. (2005). Who Stays in Teaching and Why; A Review of the Literature on Teacher Retention. Cambridge, MA: The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers, Harvard Graduate School of Education. Kilburg, G. and Hancock, T. E. (2006). Addressing sources of collateral damage in four mentoring programs. Teachers College Record 108(7), 1321–1338. Little, J. W. (1990). The mentor phenomenon and the social organization of teaching. In Cazden, C. B. (ed.) Review of Research in Education, vol. 16, pp 297–351. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association. Long, J. (1997). The dark side of mentoring. Australian Educational Researcher 24(2), 115–133. Lopez-Real, F. and Kwan, T. (2005). Mentors’ perceptions of their own professional development during mentoring. Journal of Education for Teaching 31(1), 15–24. Maguire, M. (2001). Bullying and the post-graduate secondary school trainee: An English case study. Journal of Education for Teaching 27(1), 95–109. Moor, H., Halsey, K., Jones, M., et al. (2005). Professional Development for Teachers Early in their Careers: An Evaluation of the Early Professional Development Pilot Scheme. Nottingham: Department for Education and Skills. Munby, H., Russell, T., and Martin, A. K. (2001). Teachers’ knowledge and how it develops. In Richardson, V. (ed.) Handbook of Research on Teaching, 4th edn., pp 877–904. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association. Sundli, L. (2007). Mentoring – a new mantra for education? Teaching and Teacher Education 23, 201–214. Tomlinson, P. D. (1999). Conscious reflection and implicit learning in teacher preparation. Part I: Recent light on an old issue. Oxford Review of Education 25(3), 405–424. Tsui, A. B. M. (2003). Understanding Expertise in Teaching: Case Studies of ESL Teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wang, J. and Odell, S. J. (2002). Mentored learning to teach according to standards-based reform: A critical review. Review of Educational Research 72(3), 481–546.

Bibliography

Further Reading

Bullough, R. V., Jr. (2005). Being and becoming a mentor: Schoolbased teacher educators and teacher educator identity. Teaching and Teacher Education 21, 143–155. Burn, K. (1997). Learning to teach: The value of collaborative teaching. In McIntyre, D. (ed.) Teacher Education Research in a New Context: The Oxford Internship Scheme, pp 145–161. London: Paul Chapman Publishing. Dunne, R. V. (1994). The acquisition of professional activity. In Harvard, G. and Hodkinson, P. (eds.) Action and Reflection in Teacher Education, pp 105–124. Norwood, NJ: Ablex. Edwards, A. (1998). Mentoring student teachers in primary schools: Assisting student teachers to become learners. European Journal of Teacher Education 21(1), 47–62. Feiman-Nemser, S. (1990). Teacher preparation: Structural and conceptual alternatives. In Houston, W. R. (ed.) Handbook of Research on Teacher Education, pp 212–233. New York: Macmillan. Furlong, J. and Maynard, T. (1995). Mentoring Student Teachers: The Growth of Professional Knowledge. London: Routledge. Graham, P. (1997). Tensions in the mentor teacher–student teacher relationship: Creating productive sites for learning within a high school English teacher education program. Teaching and Teacher Education 13(5), 513–527. Hagger, H. and McIntyre, D. (2006). Learning Teaching from Teachers: Realising the Potential of School-based Teacher Education. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press. Hobson, A. J., Malderez, A., Tracey, L., et al. (2007). Newly Qualified Teachers’ Experiences of their First Year of Teaching: Findings from Phase III of the Becoming a Teacher Project. Nottingham: Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).

Beck, C. and Kosnick, C. (2000). Associate teachers in pre-service education: Clarifying and enhancing their role. Journal of Education for Teaching 26(3), 207–224. Feiman-Nemser, S. (2001). Helping novices learn to teach: Lessons from an exemplary support teacher. Journal of Teacher Education 52(1), 17–30. Franke, A. and Dahlgren, L. O. (1996). Conceptions of mentoring: An empirical study of conceptions of mentoring during the school-based teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education 12(6), 627–641. Hobson, A. J. (2002). Student teachers’ perceptions of school-based mentoring in initial teacher training (ITT). Mentoring and Tutoring 10(1), 5–20. Lee, J. C. and Feng, S. (2007). Mentoring support and the professional development of beginning teachers: A Chinese perspective. Mentoring and Tutoring 15(3), 243–263. Malderez, A., Hobson, A. J., Tracey, L., and Kerr, K. (2007). Becoming a student teacher: Core features of the experience. European Journal of Teacher Education 30(3), 225–248. Oberski, I., Ford, K., Higgins, S., and Fisher, P. (1999). The importance of relationships in teacher education. Journal of Education for Teaching 25(2), 135–150. Roth, W-M. and Tobin, K. (2002). At the Elbow of Another: Learning to Teach by Co-teaching. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. Tomlinson, P. D. (1995). Understanding Mentoring: Reflective Strategies for School-based Teacher Preparation. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press. Whisnant, E., Elliott, K., and Pynchon, S. (2005). A Review of Literature on Beginning Teacher Induction. Tacoma, WA: Centre for Strengthening the Teaching Profession.