Source: Teacher Development, Vol. 15, No. 4, November 2011, 533–547
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
In this article, the authors present the mentoring relationship of two teachers at an urban elementary school in Paphos, Cyprus.
The authors present how the mentoring relationship of two teachers resulted in the provision of a more inclusive education, not only regarding the two teachers involved in the mentoring relationship, but in the school in general.
This study will be guided by the following research questions:
How does the mentoring relationship contribute to teacher induction to develop inclusive education?
How does the mentoring relationship help in developing a culture of cooperation between the mentor and the newcomer, but also in the expansion of this cooperation throughout the whole school?
The participants were Antigone, who worked as a teacher at this school and attended the induction programme for teachers as mentor, and Maria, a new teacher who took over the third grade. Maria had taken over Antigone’s previous class.
For data collection, methods of qualitative research were used.
Specifically, the data were obtained from the observation of Maria’s teaching for which Antigone was taking notes, the interaction between teacher and student and the organization of the class.
An important data source were the reflective journals which both teachers kept throughout the course of the programme.
Finally, semi-structured interviews were carried out, involving Maria, the school principal and three school teachers interested in the programme.
The data analysis led to the following two assertions:
a) the mentoring relationship helped the new teacher to develop more inclusive practices.
In order to increase the participation of her students, she began to differentiate her teaching methods, she started using a variety of visual aids and methods, she better prepared herself, and made use of her knowledge of computers.
We have also seen how the mentoring relationship influenced the school culture, which became more collaborative and more inclusive.
b) the mentoring relationship helps in the development of a culture of cooperation between the new teacher and his or her mentor but also helps in the expansion of this relationship throughout the whole school.
The cooperation between the mentor and the new teacher encouraged the development of partnerships with other teachers within the school, thereby nurturing a more collaborative and inclusive culture.
Also the mentor’s practices which became more collaborative and gradually more inclusive.
The findings imply that if the mentoring relationship focuses, among other things, on issues of equal learning opportunities and new teachers shift their attention at an early stage towards meeting the diversity of their students and not only on how to survive in the school environment, then teachers, schools and the educational system in Cyprus will set solid foundations for the acceptance of diversity and the provision of equal educational opportunities for all students.
The authors conclude that the results of this study can be ‘transferred’ to other contexts.