The purpose of this paper is to examine the benefits of an unintended mentoring relationship between researchers and beginning teachers during a longitudinal, qualitative study. The study highlights the opportunity for teacher preparation to serve as a bridge to close the gap in learning between the relatively theoretical world of teacher preparation and practical world of classroom teaching.
The study analyzed extensive qualitative data relating to two beginning teachers over a five-year period. As a theoretical framework this study drew from Lave and Wenger's (1991) theories of legitimate peripheral participation and communities of practice. In addition, significant parallels were drawn to applications of figured worlds (Holland et al., 1998) which addressed the manner in which teachers were able to “figure themselves” into teaching contexts.
This study provides support for developing communities of practice to bridge the gap of support between teacher preparation and the teaching profession. The engagement and design of the support remains crucial as the study recommends creating a support network between two individuals with an established, trusting relationship and comparable theoretical groundings. Finally, the relationship must be built around non-evaluative, questioning strategies which encourage teacher inquiry.
Although the long-term relationship between university researcher and participant remains somewhat rare, it is important to highlight the mentoring potential – and associated benefits – of such relationships. The established trust and bridge of ideas between a researcher and a participant completing preparation at the same university are key factors in successful support. This study is relevant for teacher preparation programs and professional development organizations as they work to more effectively support beginning teachers’ transition into the profession.
© Lisa Andries D'Souza, 2014.
The author expresses her gratitude to the principal investigators for the larger qualitative case study, Dr Marilyn Cochran-Smith and Dr Patrick McQuillan, both at Boston College. The author wishes to acknowledge the valuable contribution made by the other core researchers on the QCS project, Joan Barnatt, Cindy Jong, and Karen Shakman, as well as the other members of the QCS research team. In addition, the monetary support for the QCS project stemmed from Carnegie Corporation's Teachers for a New Era Grant as well as funds from the Ford Foundation. Finally, the author is indebted to IJMCE's anonymous reviewers and editors for their attentive comments on drafts of this paper.
D'Souza, L. (2014), "Bridging the gap for beginning teachers: researcher as mentor", International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 171-187. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMCE-07-2013-0039Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2014, Company