Source: Action in Teacher Education, Vol. 33, Issue 4, p. 359-373, (Winter, 2011) (Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study aimed to understand how new teachers experienced and perceived mentored induction (referred to as coaching) and understand what aspects facilitated or impeded their learning.
The participants in this study were eight first-year teachers who graduated the Chicago based UTR—a one-year graduate level, grant-supported teacher education/induction program that was a collaboration between Chicago Public Schools (CPS), National-Louis University, and the Academy of Urban School Leadership.
These teachers were selected from two high-poverty, low performing Pre-K through eighth-grade schools in a metropolitan Midwestern public school system.
There were three K-2 teachers who were supported by the primary coach, three Grades 3-5 teachers who were supported by the intermediate coach, and two Grades 6-8 grade teachers who were supported by the upper grade coach.
Each new teacher was female and taught in Grades K-7.
Each teacher self-identified as coming from middle- to upper-middle-class backgrounds.
Data were collected through in three individual, in-depth interviews with the eight new teachers throughout the year (Fall 2008, Winter 2009, and Spring 2009), 32 classroom observations.
The results indicate that new teachers found coaching to be a source of support and a resource for learning.
Each new teacher was returning the following year and stated that she looked forward to continued work with her coach.
One hundred percent new teacher retention is significant and not typical of high-needs, high-poverty CPS.
The coaches were able to develop an insider/outsider status through frequent contact in and outside of the classroom.
As "insiders" coaches were able to collaborate with new teachers to provide and/or model specific ideas and resources that met real and immediate needs.
Furthermore, new teachers found that coaches helped them analyze and reflect upon teaching and learning, provided the human and material resources required to scaffold their learning in customized ways reflective of new teachers' needs and goals.
The coaches also helped new teachers see that a professional practice is enhanced through collaboration.
As a "supportive, not evaluative role," new teachers believed that they rely on coaches' for support and learning rather than hiding their concerns or weakness in fear of reprisal.
In turn, coaches further solidified the relationship by demonstrating responsiveness and commitment to new teachers' professional growth.
Hence, new teachers could try challenging practices and take instructional risks knowing they had an ongoing, responsive support system to help them analyze, interpret, and further improve their practice and spend less time on trial and error.
This study highlights that though emotional support (humanistic mentoring) and direct advice (technical mentoring) is appreciated, new teachers valued instructionally oriented, collaborative (educative) coaching.