Rigler, Sharon E.
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The purpose of this study was to describe and analyze the mentoring needs of two beginning English teachers during their induction years as manifested in mentor-mentee transactions and to explore the complex sets of experiences, assumptions, and local school contexts that shaped these beginning teachers’ and mentors’ conceptualizations of induction support. The study took place in two Southeastern high schools and included two beginning teachers (one first-year and one second-year) and their designated mentors. Data collected over a five month period included: in-depth interviews with the beginning teachers and mentors (separately), emails, observations of mentor-mentee conferences, classroom observations, and documents related to the local schools and their mentoring programs. Data were analyzed using the phenomenological method and are represented as two cases in a collective case study (Creswell, 1998). This study was conducted using a phenomenological approach in order to investigate the meaning that participants attached to particular experiences (Creswell, 1998; Moustakas, 1994). Combining the case study design with the phenomenological approach allowed me to describe the two cases and discuss emerging themes. Findings indicate that these beginning English teachers’ perceived mentoring needs were shaped by their teacher preparation programs, the numerous and varied responsibilities of teaching English, their assumptions regarding the mentoring role, and the local school contexts in which they began their careers. Their mentor-mentee transactions were shaped by their schools’ mentoring programs, their expectations regarding the mentor role, and the context of their schools and English departments. Findings also suggest that these two beginning English teachers benefited from being placed in an environment that offered multiple sources of support including a designated mentor who was a fellow English teacher in an overall supportive department. Suggestions for future practice include 1) extending induction programs to include the second year, 2) investigating the particular needs of English teachers, 3) implementing more extensive and focused mentor training programs that provide support for mentor teachers as well as beginning teachers, and 4) establishing ongoing collaborations between public schools and universities. Future research is needed in the areas of teacher education, the mentoring process, induction support within specific disciplines, and teacher retention.