Mentoring the Mentors: First-Order Descriptions of Experience-In-Context

Jul. 01, 2011

Source: The New Educator, 7:172–190, 2011
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this article is to make a contribution to the neglected area of study of mentor training by presenting some examples of innovative practical techniques designed to link theory with practice.
The question that the authors pursued in their data was how the participants in the mentor course absorbed and integrated theoretical concepts in practical ways that were meaningful to them.

Setting and Participants

The courses are held at Achva Academic College of Education, situated in the south of Israel.
The participants were teachers of mixed levels (elementary, junior high, and high school) with a minimum of 5 years of teaching experience and a maximum of 20.
Some of the participants had served as cooperating teachers to our preservice student teachers in the past, some served as mentors to first-year teachers during the course, and some hoped to mentor novice teachers in the future or to use the acquired skills for other educational purposes.


The interactive methods that the authors use provide practical opportunities for course participants to undergo simulated experiences of what it feels like to undertake the role of the mentor in relation to the novice teacher.

The authors think that the authentic materials mentors and mentees bring to the mentoring experience can be used to promote dialogue between mentoring pairs in actual school situations.
Upon reviewing the data from their work, the authors note that mentors have negative concerns, as well as positive aspirations (Conway & Clark, 2003), about assuming their role as mentors. Mentoring is not only an additional responsibility to that of classroom teaching (Rajuan, Beijaard, & Verloop,2007), but may also challenge previously solved difficulties concerning the teacher’s role. Our course participants’ responses reveal the need for balance between concerns and aspirations (Conway & Clark, 2003) of mentor teachers in training.

The authors' experiences suggest that mentoring presents an opportunity to reevaluate teaching practices in collaboration with a mentee, as well as within a supportive community of fellow mentor teachers, thereby contributing to ongoing learning and development.
The data from the training course also show that experienced teachers are in need of retaining the ideological vision throughout their careers (Day et al., 2005; Korthagen, 2004) and that mentoring contributes to the rekindling of their vision as they engage in dialogue in an intentional and structured way.

The authors hope that mentors will strive to replicate the collaborative culture as experienced in the training course in their schools in order to take full advantage of cooperation between new and experienced teachers.

Conway, P. F., & Clark, P. M. (2003). The journey inward and outward: A re-examination of Fuller’s concerns-based model of teacher development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19, 465–482.

Day, C., Elliot, B., & Kington, A. (2005). Reform, standards and teacher identity: Challenges of sustaining commitment. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21, 563–577.


Korthagen, F. (2004). In search of the essence of a good teacher: Towards a more  
holistic approach in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20, 77–97.


Rajuan, M., Beijaard, D., & Verloop, N. (2007). The role of the cooperating teacher:
Bridging the gap between the expectations of cooperating teachers and student
teachers. Mentoring & Tutoring, 15(2), 223–242.

Updated: Jul. 17, 2011