Associate teacher mentoring: Does mentoring associate teachers have benefits for curriculum mentors in schools?

Cowley, Janet (1997) Associate teacher mentoring: Does mentoring associate teachers have benefits for curriculum mentors in schools? Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The focus of the investigation is, "Does Mentoring Associate Teachers have benefits for the curriculum mentor in School?"
This is an important question for schools at a time when initial teacher training is becoming more and more school based and with schools being asked to join in partnership schemes with higher education institutions, taking on complex mentoring roles.
The focus was highlighted in this particular project because of a mentoring pilot scheme, carried out in a co-educational comprehensive school. The school consisted of sixty teaching staff and approximately one thousand pupils. Some staff saw the mentoring initiative as a positive move, having benefits for those involved. Other stafl including some members of the senior management team held strong reservations regarding the initiative. Views were expressed that this was 'training on the cheap' that it was politically wrong and served the purpose of the Far Right of the Conservative Government; that the overall purpose of schools was to benefit the learning of the pupils within them and not to be a training ground for would be teachers. It was felt that the education of pupils would suffer by taking teachers away from their primary function.
The pilot scheme gave clear indications that there were indeed benefits to be gained, particularly for those staff involved as curriculum mentors, but also for the school as a whole. As a result of the pilot scheme the school entered into an initial teacher training partnership with a local higher education institution. The pilot study was purely subjective but it paved the way for a more structured, scientific study as to what the benefits of mentoring might be for the curriculum mentor. A questionnaire was constructed, based on teaching competencies and was given to twenty staff who had been involved in some way in the pilot study. The questionnaire raised areas of consensus regarding possible benefits to be gained. From this, semi-structured interview questions were formed to probe more deeply into the responses given. Three experienced
mentors and two newly trained mentors formed the case study.
The nature of the overall findings from the interviews seemed to indicate that mentoring associate teachers did indeed have benefits for the curriculum mentors involved, particularly in the area of becoming a reflective practitioner. The results also indicated that there were implications for what happens in the classroom as practice was changed by some staff in the light of reflection. Other areas of benefits were in the planning and organisation of teaching; in classroom skills and organisation and in the professional development of the curriculum mentors involved.
The implications of the research are important for schools mainly because it does seem to indicate that mentoring can actually help to improve the quality of teaching in school because it helps to develop staff as reflective practitioners by enabling them to articulate and make extrinsic the complex knowledge, skills, values and attitudes necessary for quality teaching and learning to take place.
Therefore, far from initial teacher training being 'training on the cheap' it improves classroom practice and has a beneficial effect on raising achievement within schools. It also implies that schools who refuse to become involved in such partnerships, do so at their peril!

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