Mentoring is a two-way street: An examination of mentor/mentee relationships in a pre-service, residency-based, teacher education program
The United States educational system is wrestling with two major issues: teacher quality and teacher quantity. Many school systems face the dilemma of recruiting, training and retaining a teacher workforce that understands content and uses effective teaching pedagogies to increase student achievement. Mentoring has become a viable mechanism in providing direct support for novice teachers in their pre-service and in-service experiences.
Much of the research around the experiences of mentors and novices (mentees) has been focused on the discrete skills and structures inherent in the mentoring process, not on the intricacies of the mentoring relationship. More often than not, research on mentoring confirms that mentoring is something done to a mentee not with a mentee.
This qualitative research study broadens the understanding of experiences held by mentors and mentees in an urban pre-service, residency-based, teacher education program. In particular, this study examines the beliefs and values that each participant holds around teaching and learning and how these beliefs and values impact their work together. Semi-structured interviews, observations of practice and field notes of the eight participants in the study (four mentor/mentee pairs) indicate that mentoring is a complex practice which has the power of enhancing the learning not only for the mentee but for the mentor as well.
Major findings of this study suggest that mentors and mentees work within a complex interchange of content and context that is a result of their beliefs, values and expectations around teaching and learning. Each of the four mentoring relationships experienced some degree of difficulty. However, it was the beliefs and values held by each person that determined how they would address these difficulties for the maximum benefit of themselves, their mentor/mentee counterpart and the students with whom they worked. In particular beliefs and values around supervision and evaluation, communication, feedback and the role of the mentor and mentee greatly impacted the level of support and success that each individual experienced.
0530: Teacher education