Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 41, No. 2, p. 115-127, 2015
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article examines the influence of the pre-service training on mentor teachers’ role perception in the Professional Development Schools (PDS).
The 12 participants included six mentor teachers (three Locals and three Newcomers) and six pedagogical instructors within the PDS framework in four secondary schools.
The research instrument was a semi-structured interview. The pedagogical instructors were also interviewed to examine their perceptions regarding the mentor teachers’ role.
This study focused on mentor teachers’ role perception that can affect student teachers’ training.
The perceptions of the mentor teachers were examined regarding the influence of their teacher education as student teachers on their role perception in the PDS, and whether a difference exists between the perceptions of mentor teachers who were trained to teach via different approaches.
The opinions of the pedagogical instructors were also examined, regarding their opinion on the difference between the role performance of Locals and Newcomers.
All Locals mentioned the contribution of their teacher education as student teachers within the PDS to their role as mentor teachers, as well as their identification with processes undergone by their student teachers.
They exhibited great empathy towards the student teachers. In contradistinction, the Newcomers did not view the apprenticeship model as contributing to their role as mentor teachers in the PDS.
All mentor teachers viewed their role as developers of the student teachers’ professional knowledge in the disciplinary fields.
The integration of theory with practice is expressed in the experience of the student teachers in the PDS.
This is expressed, for example, in a diversity of teaching methods and their adaptation to the pupils, in preparing the student teachers for teaching in the classroom, in affording feedback after the lesson and reflecting their interaction with the pupils and in the management of the class.
The Newcomers view their role mainly as a source of knowledge.
In contradistinction, the Locals saw additional significant aspects in their role.
They view their commitment in the emotional field as part of their role.
They referred mainly to growth and caring, and included parameters such as meeting affective needs, giving opportunities, openness and respect for the student teachers.
Newcomers did not extend their role perception to the emotional field as part of their role and in this sense have not adjusted to the PDS model.
Student teachers whose mentors are Newcomers probably will not experience the aspect of affective and other diverse teachers’ roles, including the systemic aspect, but rather focused only on the preparation of the lesson and disciplinary knowledge.
Mentor teachers between two different teacher education concepts
The Locals mentioned numerous contributions of mentoring in PDS, whereas the Newcomers mentioned only a few.
The Locals know from their own experience that teacher education within the PDS contributes to their development as teachers, and continue to exploit this element of their own programme in their role in working with student teachers.
The gap between the way in which mentor teachers were prepared and the way in which they prepare student teachers has impact on all partners, including the student teachers and the pedagogical instructors.
The impact on student teachers’ task performance appears to be higher, when mentor teachers are formally prepared for their role.
It is recommended to develop teacher education programmes in general, and especially for mentor teachers who were trained in one method and train student teachers in another method, in order to bridge the gap between the teacher education requirements in the PDS and the Newcomers’ training as student teachers.
Mentor teachers who understand their role and are willing to be mentors can prepare their student teachers more effectively, and can help them understand all aspects of the meaning of being a teacher.
These findings reinforce the fact that preparing mentor teachers is important, especially, if they mentor in a different context from that with which they were once familiar when students themselves.
The study’s uniqueness is the examination of the effect of the mentors’ model of teacher education (apprenticeship or PDS) on their perception of mentoring in PDS.
The findings may also help those responsible for teacher preparation programmes understand how their mentor teachers are responding to their programme and to the needs of their student teachers.
This research may be of assistance when deciding on a policy for choosing mentor teachers, and for deciding what support should be given to mentor teachers who were prepared via a model that is different from the model required of them when mentoring.