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Triadic mentoring in early childhood teacher education: the role of relational agency

Aya Ben-Harush (Department of Education, The Mofet Institute, Tel Aviv, Israel) (Department of Early Childhood Education, The David Yellin Academic College of Education, Jerusalem, Israel) (Department of Social Work, Ruppin Academic Center, Emek Hefer, Israel)
Lily Orland-Barak (The University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel)

International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education

ISSN: 2046-6854

Article publication date: 4 June 2019

Issue publication date: 14 August 2019




Current approaches to early childhood teacher education have moved from a view of student–teacher training as interactions involving one novice and one expert, to a process that demands resources and engagement of several professional players while mediating students’ learning in practice. The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of a triadic mentoring model of a university–school collaboration (“Academia–Classroom”) on student teachers’ (STs) learning in the context of early childhood education in Israel. Eight mentoring triads were formed in six kindergartens. Each mentoring triad was comprised of the ST, a cooperating teacher and the college supervisor. This paper focuses on three representative triads of the eight that were studied.


The in-depth study adopted qualitative methodology including three complementary data-collection sources: observations of the STs working with children in the kindergarten; observations and recordings of the triadic mentoring conversations following the observations; in-depth interviews with each participant in the mentoring triad. Data were analyzed using an interpretative framework developed for the study, which combined elements from Engestrom’s cultural historical activity theory, Gee’s building tasks and Edward’s relational agency.


The research identified three major patterns of interaction operating in the mentoring triad that promoted or hindered the learning process of early childhood education students: dissonant, harmonic and argumentative. The way in which relational agency developed in the triads was found to be the most significant aspect of students’ learning process.


The patterns of interaction identified shed light on new aspects of relational agency, thus offering additional interpretative lenses for examining how relational agency operates in ST mentored learning processes. These new identified patterns have practical implications for the design of mentoring frameworks in early childhood teacher education.



Ben-Harush, A. and Orland-Barak, L. (2019), "Triadic mentoring in early childhood teacher education: the role of relational agency", International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 182-196.



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