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Novice teachers experience a mosaic of mentoring as they learn to teach

Beverley J. M Bell, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In the early 1980?s teacher induction programs were introduce widely in the US in order to support novice teachers, and to stem the rising trend in teacher attrition. However, 9.5% of all teachers continue to leave teaching within the first year, and up to 50% leave within five years. Mentoring is the basis of most induction programs therefore, in order to understand the impact of induction programs, it is important to understand the role of mentoring within induction. Induction programs tend to be generic in their approach and do not specifically, and intentionally acknowledge the individual and diverse needs and expectations of novice teachers as autonomous, rationale self-directed adult learners. This phenomenological case study research utilized adult learning as the theoretical framework to explore novice teachers? perceptions of mentoring supports as they learned to teach. This research focused specifically on their perceptions of the formal and informal mentoring and interactions that they experienced in their first four months of teaching. The analysis revealed that the supports received by novices could be conceptualized as a mosaic of mentoring interactions that take place in a number of conceptual spaces, two formal (formal induction programs and schools as ecological systems or school ecologies) and one informal (informal networks and interactions within and between two formal conceptual spaces). The analysis also revealed that each conceptual space comprised three levels where mentoring took place namely, the macro (systemic and institutional) level, the meso (departmental and school geographic) level, and the micro (individual or interpersonal) level. The findings indicate that induction is a multi-faceted process that should include all stakeholders, both district and school, in order to provide initial and sustained support to novices. School ecology is an untapped resource in providing support to novice teachers. The strategic use of physical space, the physical presence of people and systematic organizational inclusion of strategies such as creative scheduling, all provide additional organic support for novice teachers. Both formal induction programs and school ecology should be strategically structured to allow informal networking to occur, as these networks emerged as the most effective ‘mentoring’ support experienced by the participants.

Subject Area

Adult education|Teacher education

Recommended Citation

Bell, Beverley J. M, "Novice teachers experience a mosaic of mentoring as they learn to teach" (2008). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3329952.