To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Mentoring for all: building knowledge and community

Suzanne Molitor (Department of Continuing and Professional Learning, University of Toronto Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, Canada)
Lana Parker (York University, Toronto, Canada)
Diane Vetter (Faculty of Education, York University, Toronto, Canada)

Journal of Professional Capital and Community

ISSN: 2056-9548

Article publication date: 20 April 2018

Issue publication date: 4 October 2018



After many years working with mentors for beginning teachers, both through a formal, Ministry-sponsored program, known in Ontario as the New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP) and through a university-based Faculty of Education practicum, the authors cultivated an understanding of the value of both mentoring and the communities that foster it. The authors observed that pre-service mentors are not offered the same level of support as their induction mentor counterparts. The purpose of this paper is to explore the aforementioned gap by bringing together a small group of pre-service mentor teachers with several highly trained induction mentors from the NTIP program in two full days of professional development: one day of learning and community building among mentors, and the second day of collaboration by pre-service mentors alongside their teacher candidates (TCs). The authors learned that pre-service mentors need and desire professional learning and community mentoring support to develop foundational understandings about the role of mentors and the skills and strategies that support an effective mentoring practice. As a result, the authors advocate for sustainable professional development that leverages existing programs and the clarification of the pre-service mentoring role through continued study and collaboration over time.


This qualitative study was designed to explore, understand, and interpret pre-service mentor teachers’ experience of professional learning about mentoring and the role of the mentor, including their responses to participating in a like community of learners. This study brought together educators serving as pre-service and induction mentors to engage them in formal professional learning about mentoring, within an environment that created the conditions for collaboration and community in the context of learning about mentoring.


This study surfaces the insights related to the types of knowledge and skills that mentors developed in this study in addition to pointing toward the knowledge and skills they perceive to be necessary to their effective participation in their roles as mentors. The study also identifies both the value that pre-service mentors perceived as a result of being invited into a learning space and the dynamics of professional learning and dialogue in collaboration with their induction mentor counterparts and their pre-service mentees.

Research limitations/implications

This research study explores a research gap in the area of mentoring as it relates to pre-service mentors or cooperating teachers. Its unique feature involves bringing together two previously segmented groups of mentors: pre-service mentors supporting developing TCs and induction mentors supporting novice teachers. It describes the value and impact of mentoring as understood by pre-service mentors, in particular identifying the reciprocal benefits they experienced. The authors also investigate and shed light on the value and impact of pre-service mentor participation in a community that is intentionally created to support their professional learning about their role. It provides recommendations for practice and indicates areas of potential research.

Practical implications

This study surfaces the potential benefits of professional learning and community for pre-service mentors who play an integral role in supporting TCs in the completion of their education degrees. It makes practical recommendations which point to uniting pre-service and in-service mentors as participants in learning communities that build leadership capacity and advance mentoring knowledge and skills to impact the mentoring relationship. This study advocates for a restructuring existing practice in the area of pre-service mentoring to encourage professional learning and interaction that connects the work of pre-service and in-service mentors, bridging two currently separate mentoring communities.


This study offers a re-visioning of mentoring as a community endeavor. It advances the notion that, supported by a targeted program of professional development and participation in communities of inquiry, knowledge creation and mobilization, mentors can build their mentoring and leadership capacity and extend their professional impact.



The authors wish to acknowledge Cassandra Eastholm, Lindsay Kemble, and Vanessa Storto for their work on the two days of data collection and for their contributions to the discussions.


Molitor, S., Parker, L. and Vetter, D. (2018), "Mentoring for all: building knowledge and community", Journal of Professional Capital and Community, Vol. 3 No. 4, pp. 242-255.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited