Mentoring is widely recognised as an effective strategy for supporting the professional learning of teachers and student teachers across different educational contexts. Yet, its effectiveness in initial teacher education (ITE) may be more widely conceived to take account of mentoring as a cultural practice, contributing to a change of professional learning habits and relationships towards collegiate and collaborative reflexivity. The purpose of this paper is to explore the nature of mentoring experiences between teachers and student teachers, how these are embedded within the established professional learning culture of the school and the opportunities for mentoring to affect professional learning.
Set within the context of a teacher education reform project in Scotland, involving student teachers, mentors and university tutors, the study adopted a critical constructivist theory stance to explore mentoring relationships. A sequential mixed methods approach informed the collection and analysis of data.
Quantitative data point to a diversity of experiences of mentoring amongst teachers and student teachers. Qualitative data provide a nuanced account of participants’ views of their mentoring experiences, pointing to opportunities for revisiting assumptions about learning in the classroom as well as questioning established professional learning patterns.
The authors conclude that mentoring relationships cannot be disentangled from a critical interrogation of the modes of relationships and values supporting professional learning in ITE. Practical implications centre upon preparation and resources to develop mentoring as a tool for learning, embedded within the professional culture of the school.
This study reframes the concept of mentoring as a practice that does not simply reinforce professional expectations but seeks to redefine teacher professional learning, pedagogy and social relationships in school contexts.
Aderibigbe, S., Gray, D.S. and Colucci-Gray, L. (2018), "Understanding the nature of mentoring experiences between teachers and student teachers", International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 54-71. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMCE-04-2017-0028
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