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Article
Publication date: 4 September 2017

Michelle Attard Tonna, Eva Bjerkholt and Eimear Holland

The purpose of this paper is to focus on reflective mentoring practices. Teacher mentors are widely known to be an important catalyst for reflection. Through dialogue and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on reflective mentoring practices. Teacher mentors are widely known to be an important catalyst for reflection. Through dialogue and professional conversations, teacher mentors can help their mentees to improve their teaching performance by facilitating their discussion of the praxis from different perspectives.

Design/methodology/approach

This qualitative mixed methods study is based on three separate studies from the Republic of Ireland, Malta and Norway involving: mentors of undergraduate student-teachers (U-M, n: 37); mentors of newly qualified teachers (NQT-M, n: 4); student-teachers (ST, n: 16); NQT, n: 8; and university tutors (UT, n: 8). In each study, mentors were provided with varying degrees of education on facilitating critical reflection for mentees. This study sought to draw out what reflective practices were being employed in mentoring across European contexts and what perceived impact they had. A cross-case analysis of data across the three countries was conducted using coding and constant comparison. Triangulation of data was employed across not only cases, but also across multiple methods data sets and across participant types.

Findings

All three studies reveal that mentoring approaches aiming to promote critical reflection have to be based on a developmental approach towards mentoring. They also have to challenge traditional hierarchical relationships and involve a commitment to collaborative, inquiry-oriented approaches towards mentoring.

Research limitations/implications

By bringing different studies of reflection in mentoring practices together, it is possible to gain new knowledge on mentoring in teacher education. However, being a cross-country, cross-context and cross-cultural approach in itself contains certain restrictions.

Originality/value

The authors of this paper propose that professional forms of inquiry depend on the type of relationship and collaboration forged between the teacher mentor and mentee. A cross-case analysis approach provided evidence of reflective practice, which is common across three European countries and offers a snapshot of trends.

Details

International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6854

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 18 May 2018

Eimear Holland

The purpose of this paper is to address the critique of researchers, who question the effectiveness and sustainability of mentoring as a continuing professional…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to address the critique of researchers, who question the effectiveness and sustainability of mentoring as a continuing professional development and learning (CPDL) process. Where a lack of awareness exists surrounding the potential benefits of mentoring for the mentor, this paper investigates whether engaging in and with mentoring through a mentoring community of practice (M-CoP) assists mentors to accrue and realise the benefits of engagement. A relationship will be drawn between the community of practice (CoP) dimensions as outlined by Wenger-Trayner and Wenger-Trayner (2015): domain, practice and community, and the perceived benefits accrued for mentors will be reported.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative approach was taken, using a participatory action learning action research strategy. In total, 12 mentors came together to form a developing M-CoP. They attended four M-CoP workshops where they grew as mentors, through the three dimensions of a CoP: domain, practice and community. Workshops were audio visually recorded and observed. Further data were gathered through an M-CoP questionnaire, pre-workshop questions, M-CoP artefacts, stimulus recall, reflective journals, reflective journey plans and extended focus group discussions. Respondent validation, inter-rater and intra-observer reliability were used. Data were coded manually and using NVivo-10 software.

Findings

Many of the benefits reported were directly linked to participants’ engagement in and with the three M-CoP dimensions: domain, practice and community. Such benefits related to mentor identity, support and solidarity, engagement and interaction, sharing “for” and learning “from” other mentors, and knowledge expansion and boundary spanning. Participants reported that engaging in and with mentor education through an M-CoP was an effective CPDL process, which was beneficial for them as developing mentors.

Research limitations/implications

The sample size was limited, based in one country and focussed upon one subject specialism. Such reported benefits need to be disseminated in order to raise the awareness of policy makers, teacher education institution managers and teacher educators, teachers and school leaders of the benefits of engaging in mentoring CPDL through the process of M-CoP engagement.

Practical implications

The findings from this study can be used to inform policies related to the continuum of teacher education. A recommendation is made for policy makers, teacher education institution managers, school leaders and CPDL service providers to facilitate the development of M-CoPs and to support their growth. It is also suggested that government departments of education and professional standards bodies account for the resourcing of such work in the design and implementation phase of school placement developments.

Originality/value

This paper closes the following gaps in the literature: CPDL benefits of engaging in and with an M-CoP for the mentor, the relationship between CPDL benefits and CoP dimensions and the development of M-CoPs in the given socio-cultural, historical and economic context of Ireland’s teacher education system and those of similar contexts.

Details

International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, vol. 7 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6854

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 4 September 2017

Rachel Shanks

The purpose of this paper is to introduce this special issue focussing on the mentoring of beginning teachers which supports the professional learning of not only mentees…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce this special issue focussing on the mentoring of beginning teachers which supports the professional learning of not only mentees but also mentors. The paper identifies the varied aims of beginning teacher mentoring programmes, some of the reasons for mentoring and an introduction to the six research papers published in the issue.

Design/methodology/approach

The papers in this issue examine different perspectives relating to the mentoring of student teachers and newly qualified teachers (NQTs). Different types of mentoring relationships are examined in various international contexts. The research, from Australia, the Republic of Ireland, Malta, Norway, Scotland, the USA and Wales, addresses the challenges that can occur in mentoring relationships, and enables us to better understand the professional learning that takes place in successful mentoring relationships.

Findings

The authors of the papers delineate how critical reflective practice, inquiry into professional practice, collaboration and professional learning for both mentees and mentors are key aims for many mentoring programmes. The six studies used different methods to investigate external and/or school-based mentoring programmes for student teachers and NQTs.

Research limitations/implications

A snapshot of current research into professional learning is provided with most studies being small qualitative ones. However, common themes can be identified across countries and contexts. The authors of each paper outline the implications for teacher education for their own contexts, as well as for international contexts.

Originality/value

Teacher education programmes employ mentoring pairs and triads in order to develop particular traits and reflective practices in teachers. Research shows how mentor programmes provide classroom experience and professional learning for student and NQTs as well as professional learning for teacher mentors. University tutors play a key role in supporting not only the mentees and mentors but also the mentoring relationship.

Details

International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-6854

Keywords

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