Year

2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Department

School of Education

Abstract

This study reports on the Quality Teaching and Mentoring Project (QTMP), a collaborative mentoring initiative between the University of Wollongong (UOW) and Southland High School (SHS). The QTMP provided Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary) pre-service teachers with the opportunity to be mentored by an experienced teacher and to participate in a school's 'community of practice'. The study aimed to document the QTMP participants' experiences (pre-service teachers, mentor teachers and school executive staff) and make recommendations for future initial teacher education programs. The recommendations included: the mentoring of pre-service teachers by experienced teachers to assist pre-service teachers in their preparedness to teach and immersion into a school's 'community of practice'; and the need to develop enduring school/university partnerships.

The study used a naturalistic paradigm of inquiry in a case study framework. The participants took part in focus groups, semi-structured interviews and email interviews to capture a comprehensive understanding of their experiences within the QTMP. Four focus areas were identified to report on participant experiences: (i) mentor teacher/mentee relationships; (ii) theory/practice nexus in initial teacher education; (iii) strategies for immersion into a school's 'community of practice'; (iv) preparedness for teaching; and (v) enablers and inhibitors of a school/university partnership.

This study suggests that when a collegial relationship is developed between a mentor teacher and mentee, mentoring of pre-service teachers assists in their preparedness to teach, supports their development of an understanding of a school's 'community of practice' and helps pre-service teachers bridge the theory/practice nexus. The study showed there are a number of important factors that need to be addressed to ensure a successful university/school mentoring partnership. These factors include: careful selection of mentor teachers and mentees; training workshops for both mentor teachers and mentees and ongoing monitoring and support of the mentor teacher/mentee relationship. The study suggested the importance of a very structured mentoring program with collaboration between the school and university in the planning and delivery of the program and the opportunity for mentor teachers to use their experiences within the program to assist in evidence for Highly Accomplished and/or Lead Teacher Accreditation (Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, 2013).

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