Professional Development of Multi-experienced Educators through a Book Study: Fostering Mentoring Relationships

August 2015

Source: Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, Vol. 23, No. 4, 273–292, 2015
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The authors examined how participants’ interactions during a book study influenced their perceptions of practice. Specifically, the authors were interested in understanding what the participants noticed from these interactions and how they conceptualized their thoughts from the mentorship engagement with others.

The authors used a case study.
The study was conducted at a medium-sized university in the Western USA.
The focus of the professional development was studying the book describing mathematics reform. The book’s intended audience is teachers and parents who may want to know more about effective mathematics teaching.
The participants were 29 educators with a range of educational and teaching experiences.

Data collected included in-depth semi-structured interviews with all participants following completion of the course.

The findings reveal that this book club was a positive experience for fostering partnerships and informal mentorship relationships. The participants were aware of their interactions with others and considered these relationships supportive for their careers.
In addition, the book study provided an informal learning experience, where educators had opportunities to interact with each other through a repeated process of learning, teaching, and development. The participants situated themselves with a receiver, neutral, or giver perspective, which influenced how they interacted with others. Furthermore, many of the participants recognized opportunities for learning from others and identified how they may be able to teach others.

The findings indicate that there are benefits of multi-experienced participants in the same program. Majority of the participants referenced the benefits of the multi-experienced group throughout. They valued the interactions with teachers of other grade levels, as well as with those in other career positions. Moreover, the book study provided a context for the discussion of varied ideas, thoughts, and practices that were both social and intellectual. Participants had opportunities to engage with others, share diverse ideas, and make meaning from their thoughts in conjunction with others.

The authors suggest that professional developers should encourage participants to assume a neutral position, so they contribute to the discussion and teach others, but are also receptive to learning themselves. The situational context created an environment that was perceived a safe and secure context for people to share their feelings.

The authors conclude that implementing a book club as an informal professional development model may have positive outcomes for participants as they foster partnerships and develop increased understandings.

Updated: Feb. 20, 2018