Associate Teachers as Successful Mentors;Associate Teachers’ and Student Teachers’ Perspectives
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Teaching and Learning
This study investigated associate teachers and student teachers perspectives of ‘successful’ mentoring. It aimed to understand how a group of associate teachers, who had been identified as being successful, viewed their role, looking at what it was that they specifically did that they felt made them successful when mentoring student teachers. It then compared these perspectives with those of a group of student teachers. The aim of the comparison was to establish any agreements or contradictions between the associate teachers’ and the student teachers’ perspectives about ‘successful’ associate teachers. An additional aim was to establish knowledge of particular professional development experiences that the associate teachers of this study felt had positively impacted on their practice as mentors. Four ‘successful’ associate teachers, as identified by their visiting lecturers from within the University of Canterbury, College of Education, and five student teachers who were enrolled at the same university in one of the primary programmes at the time of the study, were interviewed regarding their perspectives. The data revealed three conceptual themes as being relevant to ‘successful’ mentoring of student teachers: acquiring professional knowledge, becoming a professional through practice – teaching the student teacher, and building professional relationships. Findings of this study suggest that pivotal to ‘successful’ mentoring is the establishment of a successful working relationship between the associate teacher and the student teacher. The study identified that the mentoring relationship is more likely to be viewed as being ‘successful’ if associate teachers demonstrate certain knowledge, dispositions and practices when mentoring student teachers. Findings also highlighted the vital role that communication plays in supporting this relationship, not only between the associate teacher and the student teacher, but also the significant impact that effective communication on behalf of the initial teacher education provider has. The findings of this study calls for a review into the way that initial teacher education providers communicate with associate teachers, suggesting that providers should introduce a face to face element to communication. What became apparent through this study was the conclusion that there were excellent examples of ‘successful’ associate teachers, including those that were interviewed for this study, who were mentoring student teachers. Initial teacher education providers need to draw from this wealth of knowledge by increasing the opportunities where they facilitate discussions between themselves and associate teachers, in order to ensure that they are supporting the professional growth of their student teachers. It is my hope that the findings of this study will help to inform initial teacher education providers about the mentoring of their student teachers and hopefully result in improved outcomes for student teachers in the future.
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