Source: Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, Vol. 23, No. 4, 341–353, 2015
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The author examined mentors’ perceptions of their roles before the placement and compared and contrasted them with their mentees’ perceptions and evaluation of such roles after the placement.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 mentor teachers to investigate their perceived mentoring roles prior to the placement. Their seven pre-service teachers were also interviewed at the end of the practicum to explore their ideas and evaluation of their mentors’ mentoring practices.
The findings revealed that all mentor teachers in this study initially argued that their main role was to provide academic and emotional support. They also highly valued the importance of feedback and fostering a positive relationship with their mentees.
The findings suggest that 14 out of 16 mentor teachers developed strong relationships with their mentees, fully supported them, provided ongoing and detailed feedback and consequently surpassed their mentees’ expectations. These data gathered from the preservice teachers at the end of each placement suggested that most of the mentor teachers did fulfil their perceived roles. Hence, the findings indicated that the similarity between mentor teachers’ espoused theories and theories-in-use was considerable.
This suggested when mentor teachers were intrinsically motivated to play a role in the mentoring process, they felt more committed to take on the main responsibilities they believed they had. However, two mentor teachers appeared to act against their espoused theories.
Therefore, mentor teachers are highly encouraged to have an open dialogue with their mentees prior to the practicum to discuss their expectations, wants and needs. In order to reduce any identified gaps between their espoused theories and theories-in-use, mentor teachers should continuously evaluate and reflect on their mentoring approaches. They could also gain a deeper understanding of their performance through their mentees’ feedback.
Furthermore, the interviews with the mentor teachers suggest that almost no mentor had ever asked their mentees’ ideas and evaluation of the mentoring process. These mentors thus never knew how their mentees felt after finishing the practicum and how the mentees perceived their mentoring experience. Pre-service teachers live every day of their practicum with their mentors and feel the impact of every single comment on their teacher-self. Mentor teachers could gain a different perspective on their mentoring by providing the mentee with the chance to share their ideas and contribute to an egalitarian conversation about the mentoring process.