Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,728,960 articles and books

Mentoring new teachers: promise and problems in times of teacher shortage.



Currently enthusiasm for mentoring of new teachers has re-emerged among teacher employing authorities in Australia and the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . The literature on mentoring provides strong support for the importance of mentoring in retaining good teachers and in invigorating in·vig·or·ate  
tr.v. in·vig·or·at·ed, in·vig·or·at·ing, in·vig·or·ates
To impart vigor, strength, or vitality to; animate: "A few whiffs of the raw, strong scent of phlox invigorated her" 
 the teaching workforce; it also abounds in practical strategies and processes for developing and managing mentoring programs. This paper examines several contextual aspects affecting mentoring in the current educational landscape: the differentiated impact of teacher supply, appointment and retention; changing teacher entry and career pathways; an expanded knowledge base for teaching, accompanied by increased accountability; systemic preparation and reward of mentors; and improved communication technology. Based on the premise that all learners in all schools are entitled en·ti·tle  
tr.v. en·ti·tled, en·ti·tling, en·ti·tles
1. To give a name or title to.

2. To furnish with a right or claim to something:
 to high quality teachers, the paper explores the potential of mentoring as both promising and risky, and calls for research to monitor the impact of mentoring on both teacher retention and learning outcomes for all children.

Keywords

accountability mentors teacher supply and demand beginning teachers teacher placement teaching profession

Introduction

At a time of acute and rising teacher shortages in Australia and the United States, teacher employing authorities appear to be embarking on mentoring of new teachers with parallel rising trajectories of fervour. This paper examines several contemporary contextual features affecting mentoring of new teachers: the differentiated impact of teacher supply, appointment and retention; changing teacher entry and career pathways; an expanded knowledge base for teaching, accompanied by increased accountability; systemic preparation and reward of mentors; and improved communication technology. The paper does not recommend specific processes and practices for mentoring, nor does it set out to argue the case for mentoring--these aspects are canvassed comprehensively in the education literature and on the web. I seek here to underscore The underscore character (_) is often used to make file, field and variable names more readable when blank spaces are not allowed. For example, NOVEL_1A.DOC, FIRST_NAME and Start_Routine.

(character) underscore - _, ASCII 95.
 that mentoring, like other educational practices, is not neutral. In papers from almost a decade ago (Martinez, 1993, 1994a), I argued that mentoring of novices by experienced teachers has contradictory potential: as a system of positive, assisted professional entry and renewal; and as acritical occupational perpetuation per·pet·u·ate  
tr.v. per·pet·u·at·ed, per·pet·u·at·ing, per·pet·u·ates
1. To cause to continue indefinitely; make perpetual.

2.
 of existing practices and patterns of inequitable educational outcomes for children. My assumed value continues to be that all learners in all schools are entitled to highly competent teachers; and I argue here that mentoring persists as both promising and risky in the pursuit of this goal within contemporary contexts. The discussion relates primarily to mentoring newly graduated teachers, although many aspects are equally applicable to preservice teachers, especially during internships. The focus is principally on Australia, with some inclusion of data and research from the United States where mentoring has a longer and stronger history in many states.

Differentiated impact of teacher supply, appointment and retention

A major imperative for renewed enthusiasm for mentoring is current and projected teacher shortages. Throughout the world, large numbers of new teachers will be employed over the next decade, creating many more demands and opportunities for mentoring. In Australia, some dispute exists about the actual means for calculating both supply and demand of teachers. The national Ministerial Committee The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
Please [ improve this article] or discuss the issue on the talk page.
A Ministerial Committee is a committee consisting of Ministers of government portfolio.
 for Education, Training and Youth Affairs (2001) cautiously suggests that supply and demand are overall about equivalent for the near future, but predicts that, by 2010, certain sections of teacher supply will be under 'severe pressure', in particular, teachers of science and mathematics, and teachers prepared to work in rural and remote locations. Preston (2001) reports on her long-term studies of teacher supply and demand on behalf of the Australian Council of Deans of Education, and offers a more finely-grained analysis of the Australian scene. She projects major shortages in almost all states by 2005, with figures as low as around 60 per cent of demand for secondary teachers being met. Of even greater concern, however, are Preston's projections as to which Australian children are likely to be most affected by projected shortfalls in teacher supply:
   Teacher shortages are never evenly spread--they affect most severely
   those schools that are generally hard-to-staff, and they usually
   occur most severely in those subject specialisations that are tight
   at the best of times. Some schools will never feel the damaging
   effects of a shortage, however severe--in fact such schools may
   benefit in the competition for status, teachers and students if
   other schools are experiencing the disruption and inadequate
   teaching that results from shortages of competent, qualified
   teachers. Students in hard-to-staff schools are usually already
   disadvantaged--by the very factors that make the school
   unattractive to teachers and thus hard-to-staff.


In the United States, it is projected that over two million teachers will enter schools before 2010 (Gerald & Hussar hussar

Member of a European light-cavalry unit used for scouting, modeled on the 15th-century Hungarian light-horse corps. The brilliantly coloured Hungarian hussar's uniform was imitated in other European armies; it consisted of a busby (high cylindrical cloth cap), a
, 1998). Providing qualified mentors for these new teachers is obviously a major challenge; but again the challenge is not just in terms of quantity. Echoing Preston's projections for Australia, Zeichner (2001) offers a timely analysis of the differentiated impact of teacher supply and demand in the United States, and provides evidence that 'students already exhibiting low academic performance, those most in need of investment and effective intervention, have a high probability of being taught by an underprepared teacher' (p.5). Zeicher argues that these combined issues of quality as well as quantity of new teachers create new demands on all aspects of teacher education and professional development, and cannot be separated out from broader patterns of social and economic inequity in our efforts to build and sustain decent democratic societies. Zeichner's work underscores the contrast between the rhetoric that all children can learn, and the realities of inequalities in provision of opportunities to learn under the guidance of well-qualified teachers. In school systems with such differentiated patterns of appointment of highly qualified beginning teachers, mentors' work is also widely differentiated, and similarly caught up in those complex webs of social and economic inequity.

Consideration of teacher attrition rates Noun 1. attrition rate - the rate of shrinkage in size or number
rate of attrition

rate - a magnitude or frequency relative to a time unit; "they traveled at a rate of 55 miles per hour"; "the rate of change was faster than expected"


 provides a similarly disturbing picture of differentiated impact. In Queensland, recent data from the state department of education (Education Queensland, 1999) confirm that the public sector is losing at the highest rate the very groups of teachers it has most difficulty attracting--namely, teachers who are very highly rated at point of entry to the profession, teachers of secondary science and mathematics, teachers of children with special needs, and teachers who are willing to work in rural and remote locations. Of particular relevance to mentoring is that many teachers who left Queensland public schools cited lack of support as a major reason for leaving.

Gordon and Maxey (2000) report similar attrition Attrition

The reduction in staff and employees in a company through normal means, such as retirement and resignation. This is natural in any business and industry.

Notes:
 data for the United States: 'The attrition rate for each of the first two years of teaching is about 15 per cent, compared to a normal turnover rate of 6 per cent within the teaching profession' (p.2). These authors present an alarming summary of the impact on the entire teaching profession of these high attrition rates for new graduate entrants, with graphic descriptions of nightmares, insomnia insomnia, abnormal wakefulness or inability to sleep. The condition may result from illness or physical discomfort, or it may be caused by stimulants such as coffee or drugs. However, frequently some psychological factor, such as worry or tension, is the cause.  and vomiting vomiting, ejection of food and other matter from the stomach through the mouth, often preceded by nausea. The process is initiated by stimulation of the vomiting center of the brain by nerve impulses from the gastrointestinal tract or other part of the body.  among novices who become loud, boring authoritarian teachers, and then depart to leave behind a stagnant stagnant /stag·nant/ (stag´nant)
1. motionless; not flowing or moving.

2. inactive; not developing or progressing.
 pool of uninspiring uninspiring
Adjective

not likely to make people interested or excited

Adj. 1. uninspiring - depressing to the spirit; "a villa of uninspiring design"
inspiring - stimulating or exalting to the spirit
 teachers:
   Studies show that it is the most promising teachers who leave
   teaching in the early years ... and many teachers who survive the
   induction period and remain in teaching develop a survival
   mentality, a set of restricted teaching methods, and a resistance to
   curricular and instructional change that may last throughout their
   teaching careers. (p.2)


Tye and O'Brien (2002, p.31) indicate that not only new teachers, but also talented experienced teachers are leaving the profession. The picture they paint of the United States teaching workforce affected by these new patterns of attrition and retention is similarly bleak for mentoring: 'The situation has serious implications for the nation, as talented teachers leave the classroom in greater numbers and many of those who remain feel increasingly worn out and discouraged--even trapped'.

These combined data indicate shifting patterns of recruitment, appointment and retention in both the United States and Australia. Mentoring in these changed times will be confronted with a number of challenges, such as: the high proportion of newly appointed teachers in staffing profiles; inequitable distribution of appropriately qualified teachers for children whose educational needs are greatest; retaining teachers in difficult-to-staff locations where beginning teachers are likely to be appointed; and the availability of appropriate mentors in all sites. The composition of the resultant teacher workforce is likely to raise serious issues relating to relating to relate prepconcernant

relating to relate prepbezüglich +gen, mit Bezug auf +acc 
 quality and equity in education for a just society, and present a compelling argument for systemic interruption of existing patterns, structures and practices. As is argued later in this paper, mentoring is unlikely to interrupt these patterns; in fact, mentoring may risk reinforcing and maintaining the patterns of inequity. Therefore it is crucial that mentoring be seen as embedded Inserted into. See embedded system.  within patterns of teacher demand and recruitment. However information about teacher supply and demand cannot be limited to blunt generalised Adj. 1. generalised - not biologically differentiated or adapted to a specific function or environment; "the hedgehog is a primitive and generalized mammal"
generalized

biological science, biology - the science that studies living organisms
 statistics about quantity; it must take into consideration the sorts of analysis offered by Zeichner (2001) and Preston (2001) that consider differentiated outcomes for those children already disadvantaged by existing wider patterns of educational, social and economic inequities.

Changing profiles of new teachers and career pathways

A second contextual issue affecting mentoring is the changing profile of entrants to teacher education. In both the United States and Australia, entry into teaching is now marked by multiple pathways. Cochran-Smith (2001) provides a summary of the debate between the professionalisation Noun 1. professionalisation - the social process whereby people come to engage in an activity for pay or as a means of livelihood; "the professionalization of American sports"; "the professionalization of warfare"
professionalization
 and deregulation Deregulation

The reduction or elimination of government power in a particular industry, usually enacted to create more competition within the industry.

Notes:
Traditional areas that have been deregulated are the telephone and airline industries.
 agendas, which has characterised much of the recent American literature American literature, literature in English produced in what is now the United States of America. Colonial Literature


American writing began with the work of English adventurers and colonists in the New World chiefly for the benefit of readers in
 on career entry. Entrants to the profession--the pool of potential mentees--are likely to include those who have completed accredited accredited

recognition by an appropriate authority that the performance of a particular institution has satisfied a prestated set of criteria.


accredited herds
cattle herds which have achieved a low level of reactors to, e.g.
 programs of formal teacher education preparation as well as those who have none at all. The National Education Association (NEA NEA
abbr.
1. National Education Association

2. National Endowment for the Arts

NEA (US) n abbr (= National Education Association) → Verband für das Erziehungswesen
) (2002) in America, in its guide for affiliates to establish new teacher support, acknowledges the changed profile of new teachers: 'Many are hardly new to the world of work. Some come from successful careers in business, law, or the military. Others are former stay-at-home moms whose kids are now older' (p. 6). The NEA guide also documents the fact that many teachers enter the profession with no teacher preparation at all, with only one quarter of teachers hired in Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850.  in 2001 having certification.

In Australia, most states now have some form of teacher registration and all teachers are required to have undertaken some teacher education preparation in accredited programs. For example in Queensland, all teachers must be registered, and will have undertaken the equivalent of four years of undergraduate preparation or two years at postgraduate postgraduate

after first degree graduation, the registerable degree in veterinary science.


postgraduate degree
may be a research degree, e.g. PhD, or a course-work masterate with a vocational bias, or any combination of these.
 level in accredited programs of teacher education. None the less, within these regulations, the most recent report from the national Department of Science, Education and Training (2002) indicates a varied set of pathways:
   There are traditional and alternative pathways into the teaching
   profession. Traditional pathways for intending teachers may involve
   a direct transition from school to undergraduate teacher education,
   or a postgraduate teacher education award following a first degree.
   In Victoria, for instance, 48 per cent of new enrolments in
   preservice teacher education courses are into postgraduate programs.


The report goes on to mention other pathways such as 'up-skilling, re-training and fast-tracking programs that are used as means to attract new teachers" with increasing percentages of mature age entrants with prior work experience and success. Some evidence suggests that teaching itself has emerged to take a new status in the Australian community. It appears that an increasing number of teacher applicants have already been successful in other careers and choose teaching as a worthwhile profession, one where they can make a difference. A recent editorial in a national newspaper, The Weekend Australian ('Teaching the government', 2001), claimed that the teaching profession is in fact emerging from the doldrums--moving from 'a career of default' to reclaim 'its proper place ... as a third force in keeping society together'. The editor went so far as to assert that 'society has gained a greater appreciation of teaching as a rewarding and altruistic al·tru·ism  
n.
1. Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.

2. Zoology Instinctive cooperative behavior that is detrimental to the individual but contributes to the survival of the species.
 pursuit' (p. 16). Such shifts in public perception of the teaching profession will have direct impact on the profile of teacher mentees.

Related to these shifting patterns of career status and entry for teaching, are changes in broader patterns of work generally, with an increase in part-time work, and with most adults facing a number of career changes, rather than pursuing just one career path. Ellyard (1998) argued that, in Australia and globally, success in the future will depend on having many job and even career changes. Kalantzis and Harvey (2002) describe lifelong and lifewide learning as features of great mobility in contemporary workforce patterns. Research conducted in Massachusetts suggests such markedly changed career paths for teachers, with some groups continuing to see themselves as life-cycle career teachers, and with many others regarding teaching as a short-term career option as part of a portfolio of careers (Peske, Liu, Johnson, & Kardos, 2001). Mentoring in this changed workforce context must be responsive to the prior work experiences of newly appointed teachers, as well as to their chosen future career trajectories.

Teaching as highly complex, with increasing accountability

A third issue affecting mentoring is that the knowledge base for teaching has become increasingly diverse and complex. Earlier iterations of mentoring have owed much to clinical supervision, where novices were coached to develop clearly identified teaching behaviours that were derived in large part from process-product research of the 1960s and 1970s. Since that time, when psychological theories of child development and learning theories dominated, bodies of knowledge from sociology, discourse analysis Discourse analysis (DA), or discourse studies, is a general term for a number of approaches to analyzing written, spoken or signed language use.

The objects of discourse analysis—discourse, writing, , conversation, communicative event, etc.
, feminism, practitioner research, cultural studies and poststructuralism poststructuralism: see deconstruction.
poststructuralism

Movement in literary criticism and philosophy begun in France in the late 1960s. Drawing upon the linguistic theories of Ferdinand de Saussure, the anthropology of Claude Lévi-Strauss (
 have added to the professional knowledge base for teaching. Hargreaves (1997) is one of many commentators to point out that teaching is now difficult, complex, demanding, emotional work with teachers taking on many roles previously fulfilled by other social agents such as family and church. Teachers are also faced with increased diversity of student resources and needs in schools, and with hugely expanded curricula. With such complex knowledge bases and such diversity of contexts for teaching, the very best of teacher education programs will only ever be able to prepare graduates to begin to teach. Workplace mentoring of newly appointed teachers will be of even greater importance and complexity within such diverse and demanding settings.

In addition, this new wave of mentoring is occurring at a time when teacher and student standards abound--standards which are often themselves extremely complex and demanding, reflecting the expanded knowledge bases about teaching. For example, in Queensland, the state department of education has embraced 'productive pedagogies' as a statewide framework. This framework, developed from a longitudinal study longitudinal study

a chronological study in epidemiology which attempts to establish a relationship between an antecedent cause and a subsequent effect. See also cohort study.
 of classrooms throughout the state (Education Queensland, 2001), draws on findings from process-product research, constructivism constructivism, Russian art movement founded c.1913 by Vladimir Tatlin, related to the movement known as suprematism. After 1916 the brothers Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner gave new impetus to Tatlin's art of purely abstract (although politically intended) , critical sociology and classroom language discourse analysis, and builds on the work on school reform and 'authentic pedagogy' developed by Newmann and Associates (1996) in the United States. Education Queensland is also currently introducing a trial set of teacher standards which incorporate many of the dimensions of productive pedagogy, and is also establishing web-based materials, to support beginning teachers and mentors, which use this standards framework as a rubric RUBRIC, civil law. The title or inscription of any law or statute, because the copyists formerly drew and painted the title of laws and statutes rubro colore, in red letters. Ayl. Pand. B. 1, t. 8; Diet. do Juris. h.t.  for mentoring. The proliferation proliferation /pro·lif·er·a·tion/ (pro-lif?er-a´shun) the reproduction or multiplication of similar forms, especially of cells.prolif´erativeprolif´erous

pro·lif·er·a·tion
n.
 of standards for both teachers and students is even more dramatic and extensive in the United States, and the standards are used for purposes ranging from school funding and teacher salaries through to school closures. It seems inevitable that demonstrated achievement of standards by teachers and students is likely to be the benchmark by which mentoring will be measured in this new wave, if only in efforts to mute mute (myt), in music, device designed to diminish uniformly the loudness of a musical instrument.  the deafening deaf·en·ing  
adj.
Extremely loud.

Idiom:
deafening silence
A silence or lack of response that reveals something significant, such as disapproval or a lack of enthusiasm.
 shouts of politicians about accountability in education spending.

As teaching itself has become extremely complex, and external standards and demands have increased, the work of mentoring newcomers in their on-the-job learning must now be seen as equally demanding and complex, and additionally must be seen to be economically prudent investment of public money.

Preparation, recognition and reward for mentors

It appears in the education literature and on the web that, along with a new enthusiasm for mentoring, is a renewed effort to prepare experienced teachers for their work as mentors, and to recognise and reward them for this work. In the United States, the recently established Recruiting New Teachers 0LNT LNT Linens N' Things (retail chain)
LNT Leave No Trace
LNT Alliant Energy Corp. (stock symbol)
LNT Levantamento de Necessidades de Treinamento
LNT Lean NOx Trap
) (2002) organisation, in their guide to developing teacher induction Induction (educator)

Induction is the support and guidance provided to novice teachers and school administrators in the early stages of their careers. Induction encompasses orientation to the workplace, socialization, mentoring, and guidance through beginning teacher
 programs, cites as a key requirement adequate funding for mentoring. The RNT RNT Rich-N-Tone (Stuttgart, AR duck call company)
RNT Recruiting New Teachers, Inc.
RNT Residual Nitrogen Time (SCUBA diving)
RNT Reverse Notification Tree
RNT Registered Neurophysiology Technologist
 recommends that teacher mentors should be rewarded by release time, course vouchers in partnered universities, cash, and recognition as 'master' teachers. The document proceeds to list various American states' measures of recognition and reward for mentors ranging from California's cash bonus of $4000 through to Milwaukee Public Schools' provision of office space, and additional secretarial support and facilities. The RNT document, along with almost every other set of guidelines guidelines,
n.pl a set of standards, criteria, or specifications to be used or followed in the performance of certain tasks.
 in the United States, takes as given that mentors should be trained for their work with new teachers. According to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 Oliva and Pawlas (2001), Florida is prepared to meet this challenge and, under its Excellent Teaching Program Act of 1998, is paying a 10 per cent bonus to teachers who mentor a newly hired teacher.

In Australia, only the state of New South Wales New South Wales, state (1991 pop. 5,164,549), 309,443 sq mi (801,457 sq km), SE Australia. It is bounded on the E by the Pacific Ocean. Sydney is the capital. The other principal urban centers are Newcastle, Wagga Wagga, Lismore, Wollongong, and Broken Hill.  has systematised such preparation and reward of mentoring. Its public education authority, the Department of Education and Training (DET DET diethyltryptamine.

DET
n.
Diethyltryptamine; a hallucinogenic agent similar to DMT.
), is in the process of introducing a program of preparation and reward for mentor teachers throughout the state (Department of Education and Training, 2001). DET has developed innovative partnerships with ten universities throughout the state to offer a Certificate in Mentoring Teacher Development. Prospective mentors are offered up to $2000 yearly for up to two years to undertake study in a university subject in mentoring, and a DET online subject in beginning teacher development, which together provide credit transfer to a university Masters degree. This certainly represents the most comprehensive systemic initiative in Australia to match practice to rhetoric around mentoring of beginning teachers, and is also a highly significant bridge between sections of the educational community, with its formalised Adj. 1. formalised - concerned with or characterized by rigorous adherence to recognized forms (especially in religion or art); "highly formalized plays like `Waiting for Godot'"
formalistic, formalized
 collaboration between universities and the public education authority. Education Queensland has begun to recognise the challenges involved in systematic training of mentors and is currently preparing electronic learning materials to be accessed in all state schools.

However these laudatory laud·a·to·ry  
adj.
Expressing or conferring praise: a laudatory review of the new play.


laudatory
Adjective

(of speech or writing) expressing praise

Adj.
 initiatives to prepare and recognise mentor teachers appear as isolated lighthouses in a persistently bleak scene, with Weiss and Weiss (1999) reporting that less than one quarter of mentor programs in the United States actually include training of mentors. Kalantzis and Harvey (2002, p.9) lament that the provision of ongoing professional development of teachers, including as mentors, remains 'largely neglected' in Australia. The authors conclude: 'We are unlikely to keep the finest teachers in the profession without more commitment to programs of reskilling and professional development'. Funding and developing structures and practices to implement rhetoric about the desirability of trained mentors clearly persists as a major pressing demand, especially given the numbers of new teachers about to be employed.

Improved communication technology

In addition to rethinking the context, content and purposes of mentoring programs, the profiles and career paths of mentors and mentees, and preparation and reward of mentors, those responsible for managing contemporary mentoring must also rethink re·think  
tr. & intr.v. re·thought , re·think·ing, re·thinks
To reconsider (something) or to involve oneself in reconsideration.



re
 delivery modes for mentoring programs. Improvements in information technology offer opportunities to provide new teachers with the substantive information they may need--about students, policies and procedures Policies and Procedures are a set of documents that describe an organization's policies for operation and the procedures necessary to fulfill the policies. They are often initiated because of some external requirement, such as environmental compliance or other governmental  in particular sites, and about general issues of pedagogy, curriculum and assessment. Earlier forms of mentoring have traditionally used folders of print materials and regular meetings to impart such information. Web-based information now affords great flexibility with information provision, allowing mentees to take a far more active role in seeking information when they are ready for it. A wealth of teaching resources such as unit plans and assessment task sheets are readily available to new teachers, who are also likely to be more comfortable and more skilled in accessing these resources than the more experienced teachers who have traditionally been mentors. In addition, communication by email and chat board can offer new teachers intra- and interschool networking support to counteract the isolation that many new teachers experience. These facilities may be of special value for teachers who enter their career in rural and remote communities.

Further an abundance of electronic materials exist for establishing and maintaining mentoring programs, for preparation of mentors, and for networking among mentors. Flexibility of access is clearly a distinct advantage of electronic information for busy practitioners who work tight schedules. Again these resources may be of particular benefit for those working in rural and remote locations, for new mentors, and for sites with only one beginning teacher.

A quick web search makes it very clear that materials for mentoring are available electronically in over-abundance, and that opportunities exist for electronic communications for beginning teachers, mentors and mentor program managers. Such electronic materials and networking do not replace the need for mentoring; rather they call for new roles and professional relationships to be negotiated. New mentoring programs can maintain a focus on professional collegial col·le·gi·al  
adj.
1.
a. Characterized by or having power and authority vested equally among colleagues: "He . . .
 welcome, exchange and growth, while capitalising on new technologies to provide the flexibility and multiplicity mul·ti·plic·i·ty  
n. pl. mul·ti·plic·i·ties
1. The state of being various or manifold: the multiplicity of architectural styles on that street.

2.
 for customising mentoring to suit the needs and resources of all new teachers in all contexts. New technologies afford the possibility of effective mentoring to be experienced as professional learning relationships that take place within a rich mix of system- and school-wide structures, using welldeveloped materials and practices.

Mentoring: Much potential, but no magic

This final section of the paper explores ways in which mentoring, within the current educational context, might advance or obstruct ob·struct
v.
To block or close a body passage so as to hinder or interrupt a flow.



ob·structive adj.
 the provision of quality teachers for all learners. In summary, I support the general enthusiasm for mentoring as well justified and welcomed; mentoring new teachers is an educational practice with enormous potential. However it is a little disturbing that, throughout much of the literature, this enthusiasm for mentoring reaches manic man·ic
adj.
Relating to, affected by, or resembling mania.
 peaks. Mentors are frequently described in hallowed hal·lowed  
adj.
1. Sanctified; consecrated: a hallowed cemetery.

2. Highly venerated; sacrosanct: our hallowed war heroes.
 tones as sage counsellors who have successfully trod trod  
v.
Past tense and a past participle of tread.


trod
Verb

the past tense and a past participle of tread

trod, trodden tread
 the profession's highways and who now await the novice journeyer with beacons to guide the way to a guaranteed successful career path. Etymological et·y·mo·log·i·cal   also et·y·mo·log·ic
adj.
Of or relating to etymology or based on the principles of etymology.



et
 considerations have tended to elevate el·e·vate  
tr.v. ele·vat·ed, ele·vat·ing, ele·vates
1. To move (something) to a higher place or position from a lower one; lift.

2. To increase the amplitude, intensity, or volume of.

3.
 further the status of mentor to the realms of the ancient gods. The literature abounds in claims of the benefits of mentoring for all participants--mentors, mentees, and school systems (e.g. Halford, 1998; Holloway, 2001; Odell & Huling, 2000; Stevens, 1995).Throughout the plethora plethora /pleth·o·ra/ (pleth´ah-rah)
1. an excess of blood.

2. by extension, a red florid complexion.pletho´ric


pleth·o·ra
n.
1.
 of diverse, practical models for mentoring, the literature presents a singularly glowing picture of the wonders of mentoring.

I would not want to deny the profound importance of friendly professional welcoming support for novice teachers, offered by teachers more experienced in the particular site, and the research confirms that novices appreciate such personal, emotional support (Odell & Ferraro, 1992). However I wish here to raise again questions about possible flaws in such an acritical approach to mentoring, by examining ways in which mentoring may be taken up and implemented. Some caution seems advisable ad·vis·a·ble  
adj.
Worthy of being recommended or suggested; prudent.



ad·visa·bil
, given the contextual features described above, particularly the anticipated large increase in the number of new teachers to be appointed during the next decade. Indeed it is difficult to suppress just a little cynicism Cynicism
See also Pessimism.

Antisthenes

(444–371 B. C.) Greek philosopher and founder of Cynic school. [Gk. Hist.: NCE, 121]

Apemantus

churlish, sarcastic advisor of Timon. [Br. Lit.
, that perhaps mentoring will be invoked as a quick cheap fix which potentially alleviates national and state authorities of direct responsibility for the looming looming: see mirage.  problem of managing occupational entry for large numbers of beginning teachers. This seems particularly relevant with the current governance model, in most Australian states Noun 1. Australian state - one of the several states constituting Australia
province, state - the territory occupied by one of the constituent administrative districts of a nation; "his state is in the deep south"
, of devolution devolution n. the transfer of rights, powers, or an office (public or private) from one person or government to another. (See: devolve)


DEVOLUTION, eccl. law.
 to individual schools of control over distribution of funding, including for professional development. In such contexts, it is unlikely that support for beginning teachers will emerge as a priority, as the novices (who are at the bottom of the school power hierarchy) are unlikely to be represented on those allocation committees. Establishment of structured support for beginning teachers is therefore likely to be even more serendipitous ser·en·dip·i·ty  
n. pl. ser·en·dip·i·ties
1. The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.

2. The fact or occurrence of such discoveries.

3. An instance of making such a discovery.
. This is not to suggest that principals are malevolently ma·lev·o·lent  
adj.
1. Having or exhibiting ill will; wishing harm to others; malicious.

2. Having an evil or harmful influence: malevolent stars.
 disposed to neophytes. Research has consistently revealed that principals are concerned for the difficulties faced by beginning teachers (e.g. Martinez, 1994b; Queensland Board of Teacher Registration, 1991;Tisher, Fyfield, & Taylor, 1979). However this research also makes it clear that those concerns and good intentions have only about a 50 per cent chance of eventuating in structured support for the beginning teachers. In a devolved system with reduced funding, faced with burgeoning numbers of new teachers entering schools, busy principals are likely to be tempted to see assignation ASSIGNATION, Scotch law. The ceding or yielding a thing to another of which intimation must be made.  of a mentor as a simple, low-maintenance solution. Meanwhile state and national politicians and system administrators, with all responsibility devolved to local site managers, can continue to offer reduced budgets and withdraw any system support, while blaming universities for poor teacher education and schools for poor teacher retention. If we are to break these cycles, and produce more equitable distribution of quality teachers, then support of newly appointed teachers and preparation and reward of mentors must be seen as system-wide challenges. For these reasons, it is particularly heartening heart·en  
tr.v. heart·ened, heart·en·ing, heart·ens
To give strength, courage, or hope to; encourage. See Synonyms at encourage.

Adj. 1.
 to see at least one state in Australia and several in the United States now taking such systemic responsibility.

In our enthusiasm for the potential of mentoring, it is also wise to consider its limitations; and again this seems particularly important at this time when schools will need to respond to large numbers of new teachers. In Australia, in previous times of teacher shortages, a tempting direction to pursue has been the reduction of formal teacher education to short 'up-skilling' or retraining re·train  
tr. & intr.v. re·trained, re·train·ing, re·trains
To train or undergo training again.



re·train
 programs. Within such pragmatic approaches to supplying warm-bodied teachers to fill timetable slots, school-based induction is an obvious corollary corollary: see theorem. . Experiments with school-based teacher training in the United Kingdom over the past decade do not inspire confidence. In a country characterised by rich cultural diversity and intense interracial in·ter·ra·cial  
adj.
Relating to, involving, or representing different races: interracial fellowship; an interracial neighborhood.
 tensions, complex issues such as multicultural mul·ti·cul·tur·al  
adj.
1. Of, relating to, or including several cultures.

2. Of or relating to a social or educational theory that encourages interest in many cultures within a society rather than in only a mainstream culture.
 education risk being reduced to short printed handouts issued to preservice teachers to work through with their school mentors. Such simplistic sim·plism  
n.
The tendency to oversimplify an issue or a problem by ignoring complexities or complications.



[French simplisme, from simple, simple, from Old French; see simple
 approaches make a mockery Mockery
Abas

changed into lizard for mocking Demeter. [Rom. Myth: Metamorphoses, Zimmerman, 1]

Beckmesser

pompous object of practical jokes. [Ger.
 of the complex knowledge base for teaching and learning discussed earlier in this paper. Teacher educators know that it is difficult to develop appropriately comprehensive curricula within the four-year framework of teacher education programs, and acknowledge that the best teacher preparation programs can only prepare teachers to begin to teach. It would be absurd to expect that school-based teacher mentors (who themselves are extremely busy with their core classroom work) could adequately compensate formal preservice teacher education. Despite rumours in the literature to the contrary, there is no magic in mentoring: the most highly skilled mentors cannot replace teacher education.

Similarly mentors have no magic wands a wand used by a magician in performing feats of magic.

See also: Magic
 to transform the impossible teaching contexts that many teachers encounter on entry to the profession. The best mentoring cannot compensate for inappropriate allocation of tasks to beginning teachers. Gordon and Maxey (2000) identify 'difficult work assignments' as one of six environmental difficulties faced by beginning teachers, who are frequently allocated the most difficult classes in the worst classrooms with the poorest facilities. The Queensland Board of Teacher Registration (1991) had expressed a further concern that a large number of beginning secondary teachers in their survey reported teaching at least one class outside the teaching areas for which they had been prepared. Even without such mismatching Mismatching is the term given to the alleged negative effect that affirmative action has when it places a student into a college that is allegedly too diffucult for her. For example, according to the theory, in the absence of affirmative action, a student will be admitted to a college , the Board argued that all initial teaching was demanding, and recommended: 'a reduction of up to 20% for first year teachers would be desirable ... and such a reduction was not unreasonable in terms of the differential between the salary levels of beginning teachers and teachers with a number of years of teaching experience' (p. 98). Clearly placement in difficult contexts with maximum loads contributes enormously to a beginning teacher's career entry and subsequent career path decisions. No amount of mentoring can overcome such difficulties of heavy and inappropriate workload. One can but hope that shifting school timetabling practices will be an obvious response as we employ the next generation of teachers. However the obdurate obstacle to reform in this direction might be a prevailing culture among some senior staff who wish to have bad history repeated and have newcomers suffer and be thrown into 'reality'. No wonder Halford (1998, p.33) referred to teaching as 'the profession that eats its young'!

The impact on the beginning teachers themselves of unsupported entry into inappropriate initial teaching context is deplorable de·plor·a·ble  
adj.
1. Worthy of severe condemnation or reproach: a deplorable act of violence.

2.
 and evident: they leave! Additionally, wider consequences follow, and again it is Zeichner (2001, p.5) who alerts us to the differentiated impact on students of these inappropriate allocations. His analysis indicates that 'students in high poverty secondary schools ... are more than twice as likely as students in low poverty schools ... to be taught by teachers not certified See certification.  in their fields'. Such differentiated analysis does not appear to be available for the Australian setting, although several state education providers have been expressing concern for some time that the state-funded public school sector could become a residualised second-rate sector compared with the non-state, fee-paying private sector. Preston's (2001) report foreshadows such a two-class system. Analysis of appropriate teacher qualification across state and non-state sectors and across urban and rural and indigenous community schools is needed to compare educational opportunities for all Australian children.

Finally I wish to restate re·state  
tr.v. re·stat·ed, re·stat·ing, re·states
To state again or in a new form. See Synonyms at repeat.



re·state
 my concerns for the potential harm that mentoring can bring about, especially for those children for whom schooling is already not working. Many mentoring programs have been premised on a deficit view of teacher education and of beginning teachers. Feiman-Nemser and Parker (1992) described mentors in such programs as local guides and educational companions, whereas Cochran-Smith and Paris (1995) referred to this conceptualisation (artificial intelligence) conceptualisation - The collection of objects, concepts and other entities that are assumed to exist in some area of interest and the relationships that hold among them.  of mentoring as the knowledge-transmission model. In such models, the major purpose of mentoring has been to ensure that the new teacher to a particular site fits in quickly, with least disturbance to the ways that 'business as normal' is conducted. Some recent mentoring programs, such as the New South Wales Teacher Mentor scheme, have moved beyond that deficit model, by acknowledging the worth of teacher education and the positive contributions that beginning teachers make to school communities in their ongoing efforts to enhance learning and life outcomes for all children. However the mentoring literature suggests that the former deficit 'quick-fix' model remains the dominant practice.

Eddy (1969), in her study three decades ago, signalled the potential risks in heavy or exclusive reliance on mentors to assist beginning teachers--the risk of accelerated socialisation, of a critical occupational perpetuation, and the attendant maintenance of bureaucratic bu·reau·crat  
n.
1. An official of a bureaucracy.

2. An official who is rigidly devoted to the details of administrative procedure.



bu
 power relations within schools and society. Eddy worked with beginning teachers in American ghetto schools, and drew social and institutional implications about 'the constant guides and guardians' and the helpful remedies they offered the beginners:
   The solutions offered by the oldtimers stress the importance of
   keeping pupils quietly occupied and forcing them to respond to
   the activities of teachers, even if several days, weeks, or
   months are required to drill them in routines of acting out their
   subordinate role in the classroom. (p. 18)


Accordingly, Eddy argued that the natural extension of this process was:
   To provide an ideology which allows teachers in the slum school to
   maintain a professional identity even when they fail to teach
   pupils in ways that enabled them to achieve in the educational
   system. (p. 118)


Eddy argued that, in the face of the difficulties of the early months of teaching, young teachers sought comfort in ascribing their difficulties to the traits of pupils and parents, or to administrators. New teachers received support for these views from older colleagues. Eddy maintained that more experienced teachers socialised Adj. 1. socialised - under group or government control; "socialized ownership"; "socialized medicine"
socialized

liberal - tolerant of change; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition
 their younger colleagues into behaviours, values and attitudes which they had already defined as appropriate for teachers in the schooling bureaucracy, and which contributed to poor achievement by children already disadvantaged.

Similar practices of socialisation of new teachers appeared in Australian settings, where beginning teachers were revealed to adapt quickly to the established standards and expectations of experienced teachers (Martinez, 1994a). Such perpetuation of practices created major problems, especially in the case of Brian, a young teacher who took up a position in an indigenous community school. As senior teachers are the people who have been successful within the hierarchy of teaching, they are placed powerfully as system maintainers. To the new recruit, they offer advice for strategies and approaches that work. Brian's story suggests that 'what works' is interpreted as keeping students quiet or accepting very limited classroom-bound views of the roles of teaching, but has little connection with learning outcomes or life chances for students. It must also be made clear that the experienced teachers' motives may indeed be honourable honourable or US honorable
Adjective

1. principled

2. worthy of respect or esteem

honourably adv

Honourable
Adjective
 with respect to their junior colleagues. It is most likely that they act in ways that they believe will best assist the beginning teacher to survive the early months of teaching. None the less, the consequences for children, and for society, are not so honourable.

However there are also very encouraging signs for mentoring in contemporary school settings. Moves over the past decade to construct schools as learning organisations and to build collaborative communities of professional exchange may have interrupted traditional power hierarchies, thus setting a climate more conducive con·du·cive  
adj.
Tending to cause or bring about; contributive: working conditions not conducive to productivity. See Synonyms at favorable.
 to mentoring that can make a positive difference. New communication technologies provide wonderful promise of flexibility and deprivatisation, even for beginning teachers in the most remote locations. Best of all, several states in the United States and New South Wales have now begun matching practice to rhetoric in their structured systemic processes of preparation of mentors and reward and recognition of their work.

Providing the empirical warrant

In this paper, I have not tried to explore or advocate specific mentoring practices. Rather, I have identified relevant features of the context within which mentoring will occur in the near future, and the likely impact of those complex and interrelated in·ter·re·late  
tr. & intr.v. in·ter·re·lat·ed, in·ter·re·lat·ing, in·ter·re·lates
To place in or come into mutual relationship.



in
 features on the outcomes of mentoring. I have argued that mentoring has potential to result in both positive and negative effects on teacher retention and learning outcomes for particular groups of children. Hence mentoring cannot be constructed as neutral practice. With predictions of large numbers of new teachers and new mentoring programs in the near future, the task remains to examine systematically and critically the assumptions, practices and outcomes of mentoring, so that judgements about and investments in mentoring are based on convincing evidence rather than a fad or an easy option. Over a decade ago, Little (1990), in her major review of 'the mentor phenomenon', alerted us to the 'manic optimism' that has characterised much of the writing about mentors and their potential. She raised key issues and set an agenda for future action relating to mentoring: 'Rhetoric and action have ... outpaced both conceptual development and empirical warrant' (pp. 297-298). I believe we are now facing the major challenge of providing that empirical warrant for mentoring. Such research may remove the magical status of mentors and so reveal their real powers within prevailing contexts. We need the research to show what sort of mentoring influences which teachers to stay in which schools doing what to which children, with what consequences for all children.

References

Cochran-Smith, M. (2001). Constructing outcomes in teacher education: Policy, practice and pitfalls. Education Policy Analysis Archives Education Policy Analysis Archives is a peer-reviewed, open access scholarly journal created in 1993 by Gene V. Glass at Arizona State University. Articles are published in English, Spanish or Portuguese. , 9(11), 1-40.

Cochran-Smith, M. & Paris, P. (1995). Mentor and mentoring: Did Homer have it right? In J. Smith (Ed.), Critical discourses on teacher development (pp.181-202). London: Cassell.

Department of Education and Training. (2002). Certificate in Mentoring Teacher Development. Sydney: Author.

Department of Science Education and Training. (2002). Strategies to attract and retain teachers of science, technology and mathematics. Canberra: Author.

Eddy, E. (1969). Becoming a teacher. New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
: Columbia University Columbia University, mainly in New York City; founded 1754 as King's College by grant of King George II; first college in New York City, fifth oldest in the United States; one of the eight Ivy League institutions. , Teachers College Press.

Education Queensland. (1999). Teacher supply and demand in Queensland: Resigned teacher survey. Brisbane: Author.

Education Queensland. (2000). Teacher supply and demand in Queensland 1981-2009: Main report [Commissioned report by Pacific Analytics Inc.]. Brisbane: Author.

Education Queensland. (2001). The Queensland School Reform Longitudinal Study: Final report. Brisbane: Author.

Ellyard, P. (1998). Ideas for the new millennium. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

Feiman-Nemser, S. & Parker, M. B. (1992). Mentoring in context. East Lansing East Lansing, city (1990 pop. 50,677), Ingham co., S central Mich., a suburb of Lansing, on the Red Cedar River; inc. 1907. The city was first known as College Park, but was renamed when it was incorporated. , MI: National Center for Research on Teacher Learning.

Gerald, D. & Hussar,W. (1998). Projections of educational statistics to 2008. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), as part of the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES), collects, analyzes, and publishes statistics on education and public school district finance information in the United States; conducts studies .

Gordon, S. & Maxey, S. (2000). How to help beginning teachers succeed (2nd ed.). Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, or ASCD, is a membership-based nonprofit organization founded in 1943. It has more than 175,000 members in 135 countries, including superintendents, supervisors, principals, teachers, professors of education, and . Retreived 16 August 2002 from http://www.ascd.org/readingroom/books/gordonOObook.html#chapter1

Halford, J. (1998, February). Easing the way for new teachers. Educational Leadership, pp.33-36.

Hargreaves, A. (Ed.). (1997). Rethinking educational change with heart and mind. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Holloway, J. (2001). The benefits of mentoring. Educational Leadership, 58(8), 85-86.

Kalantzis, M. & Harvey, A. (2002). Preparing educators for the twenty-first century. Professional Educator, 1(1), 8-9.

Little, J.W. (1990). The mentor phenomenon and the social organization of teaching, Review of Research in Education, 16, 297-351.

Martinez, K.F. (1993). Still blowin' in the wind: Elizabeth Eddy's diagnosis of persistent educational ills. Journal of Education for Teaching, 19(1), 231-230.

Martinez, K.F. (1994a). Problems of ethnic and cultural differences between teachers and students: A story of a beginning teacher of Australian Aboriginal children. Journal of Education for Teaching, 20(2), 161-178.

Martinez, K.F. (1994b). Teacher induction revisited. Australian Journal of Education, 38(2), 189-196.

Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs. (2001). Demand and supply of primary and secondary school teachers in Australia. Canberra: Author.

National Education Association. (2002). A better beginning: Helping new teachers survive and thrive. Washington, DC: Author.

Newmann, F. & Associates. (1996). Authentic achievement: Restructuring schools for intellectual quality. San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden : Jossey Bass.

Odell, S.J. & Ferraro, D. (1992). Teacher mentoring and teacher retention. Journal of Teacher Education, 43(3), 200-204.

Odell, S. & Huling, L. (2000). Quality mentoringfor novice teachers. Indianapolis, IN: Kappa Delta Pi Kappa Delta Pi is an international honor society for undergraduate and graduate students in education.

Founded in 1911, the society is devoted to "Recognizing scholarship and excellence in education." [1]

Official website
.

Oliva, P. & Pawlas, G. (2001). Supervision for today's schools. New York: John Wiley John Wiley may refer to:
  • John Wiley & Sons, publishing company
  • John C. Wiley, American ambassador
  • John D. Wiley, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • John M. Wiley (1846–1912), U.S.
 & Sons.

Peske, H., Liu, E., Johnson, S., Kauffman, D., & Kardos, S. (2001, December). The next generation of teachers: Changing conceptions of a career in teaching. Phi Delta Kappan, pp.304-311.

Preston, B. (2001). Conditions for a dynamic and effective teaching profession. Address to the Independent Education Union NSW/ACT, Sydney, June 2001.

Queensland Board of Teacher Registration. (1991). Welcoming new teachers. Toowong: Author.

Recruiting New Teachers. (2002). A guide to developing teacher induction programs. Belmont: Author. Stevens, N. (1995, Spring). R and R for mentors: Renewal and reaffirmation re·af·firm  
tr.v. re·af·firmed, re·af·firm·ing, re·af·firms
To affirm or assert again.



re
 for mentors as benefits from the mentoring experience. Educational Horizons, pp. 130-137.

Teaching the government a lesson or two. (2001, January 20-21). The Weekend Australian, p.16.

Tisher, R.P., Fyfield, J.A., & Taylor, S.M. (1978). Beginning to teach. Canberra: AGPS AGPS Assisted Global Positioning System
AGPS Advanced Government Purchasing System
AGPS Advanced Geo Positioning Solutions, Inc
AGPS Advanced Global Positioning System
AGPS Ameron Global Product Support
AGPS Attitude Global Positioning System
AGPS Assisted Gps
.

Tye, B.B. & O'Brien, L. (2002, September). Why are experienced teachers leaving the profession? Phi Delta Kappan, pp. 24-32.

Weiss, E. & Weiss, S. (1999). Beginning teacher induction. ERIC Digest retrieved 19 August 2002 from http://ericir.eyr.edu/plweb-egl/obtain.pl

Zeichner, K. (2001). The adequacies and inadequacies of three current strategies to recruit, prepare and retain the best teachers for all students. Revised paper from the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association The American Educational Research Association, or AERA, was founded in 1916 as a professional organization representing educational researchers in the United States and around the world. , New Orleans New Orleans (ôr`lēənz –lənz, ôrlēnz`), city (2006 pop. 187,525), coextensive with Orleans parish, SE La., between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, 107 mi (172 km) by water from the river mouth; founded , April 2001.

Author

Kay Martinez is a Senior Lecturer senior lecturer
n. Chiefly British
A university teacher, especially one ranking next below a reader.
 at the School of Education, James Cook University Situated in the tropical gardens of the campus, the halls of residence provide students with modern social and sporting facilities as well as the opportunity to choose between catered or self-catered accommodation. , Townsville, Queensland
This article is about the metropolitan area of Townsville in Northern Queensland.
For the Townsville CBD suburb see Townsville City, Queensland.
 4811.

E-mail: Kay.Martinez@jcu.edu.au
COPYRIGHT 2004 Australian Council for Educational Research
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Martinez, Kay
Publication:Australian Journal of Education
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2004
Words:6484
Previous Article:Changing pre-service teachers' purposes of education through existential crises.
Next Article:Doing Comparative Education Research: Issues and Problems.
Topics:



Related Articles
The Development of Mentorship Programs at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Mentoring early childhood professionals.
Mentoring for quality improvement: a case study of a mentor teacher in the reform process.
Teachers' efficacy in preparation and retention.
Impact of mentoring on teacher efficacy.
Measuring the self-efficacy of mentor teachers.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters