Source: Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, Vol. 20, No. 3, August 2012, 303–323
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The aim of this investigation was to better understand the mentoring component of an induction program and how the variability may relate to multiple novice teacher outcomes such as self-efficacy, reflection, and quality of student–teacher interactions.
The induction program examined in this study was developed in partnership between two school districts and a local University in the Southeastern United States, and offered to all first- and second-year teachers.
The participants were 77 novice teachers. Fifty-four of the teachers were in their first year teaching and 23 were in their second year.
Data were collected through questionnaires and novices' reports regarding how many hours per week their mentors worked with them, how many large group training sessions, novice meetings, and other professional development opportunities they participated in during the year under study.
The findings revealed that novice teachers and mentors viewed this program as an effective support for early career teachers, and attribute the high new teacher retention rate to supports received in it. Even within this effective program, though, differences in aspects of the mentors, the time they spent with novices and perceived quality of support were associated with differences in behaviors important to effective teaching.
Additionally, mentors’ previous experience and full- vs. part-time status predicted novices’ perception of support, reflection, and observed student–teacher interactions. Full-time vs. part-time mentor status also related to novices observed instructional practice, with novices mentored by full-time staff being observed as providing more effective instructional interactions with students. This could be due to full-time mentors’ being able to keep focused on the novice as this is their main responsibility, and continue to encourage improved practice.
In examining mentoring time and perception of quality together, both elements provided unique contributions to novice’ enhanced self-efficacy and reflection. For example, novices who reported feeling more supported in their relationship with their mentor reported higher levels of reflection at the end of the year. In terms of self-efficacy, novices who reported engaging in additional professional development outside their mentor relationship also reported greater increases in self-efficacy over the year. Although the directionality is unable to be determined, what is clear is self-efficacy and reflection is sensitive to differences in mentoring.
Systematic induction with a mentor offers professional development in a way that connects the relevance of lessons to the actual classroom as well as addresses the personal and professional challenges of the teacher. The findings revealed that novices and mentors overwhelmingly liked mentor-supported induction and felt it was good for career development. The findings here suggest that investing in a mentoring based induction program not only results in less teacher turnover, but also in the skills and abilities necessary to positively influence students’ development and learning in the classroom.
The authors conclude that new teachers in general like mentor-based induction and feel supported by this professional development approach. In addition, both exposure to and quality of the experience influenced key areas in teacher development in ways not previously captured.
Finally, the authors argue that collaboration at all levels—with students, school systems, faculty, other Universities—needs to be emphasized throughout to continue to make systematic improvements to improve teacher, and child outcomes.