Beginning teachers' perspectives of mentors' characteristics
Burgess, Robert Arthur
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The purpose of this study was to examine beginning teachers’ perspectives of mentors’ characteristics that encourage reflection. The study investigated how mentors’ characteristics cognitively, emotionally, and instructionally affected a group of beginning teachers who participated in a mentoring program. Furthermore, the study explored how the mentors promoted reflection and how this reflective practice impacted student learning from the beginning teachers’ point of view. Data were collected in a large suburban high school. The researcher conducted face-to-face interviews. A grounded theory method was used to analyze the data. It was found that the mentors who developed positive inter-personal relationships to their beginning teachers, knew their subject well, helped the beginning teachers with instructional issues, and aided in classroom management had the most effective mentor/mentee relationships. This study also found that when the mentors listened, were available to the beginning teachers, and encouraged beginning teachers, the beginning teachers felt more confident in their abilities and were more effective in the classroom. This, according to the study data, impacted student learning. Based on the findings, several ideas are discussed. First, the personal and professional relationship formed between the mentor and the beginning teacher was of the utmost importance. Secondly, the formation of positive, supportive relationships does not happen by chance. Thirdly, mentors must have a desire to mentor beginning teachers and must be willing to develop the interpersonal and professional skills necessary to mentor effectively. Finally, by having positive, supportive mentors, the beginning teachers more successfully understood the curriculum and student learning increased. Implications for further research at higher education and in K-12 public education are discussed. Undergraduate teacher programs should continue to teach reflection to their pre-service teachers. Higher education should also cons ider how to train principals and assistant principals to be more reflective. Mentors should receive formal training, be willing to be a mentor, conduct observations, spend time with the beginning teacher, share resources, grow professionally, and treat the beginning teacher as a colleague.