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The effects of mentoring on the elementary special education mentor
h [electronic resource] /
by Maria Angeliadis.
[Tampa, Fla.] :
b University of South Florida,
ABSTRACT: Increasingly, mentor programs are being developed in teacher education programs to assist novice teachers. The focus in most of the literature on mentoring is on the new teacher being mentored. While the mentor teacher appears to be the most crucial element in mentoring programs (Feinman-Nemser, 1992; Little, 1990; White, 1995), there is not much information about how a teacher experiences being a mentor or the perceived benefits to a mentor. The purpose of this present study was to examine the effects of mentoring on mentors in order to: (a) address the gap in the literature by exploring the effects of mentoring on the mentor, (b) inform the mentoring and mentor training process and (c) examine the effects of mentoring on mentors. To meet these purposes, six mentors in a southeastern county in Florida were interviewed using Seidman's, (1998) protocol. The analysis of the interview data revealed that the mentors felt strongly about the benefits derived from being a mentor. They believed they were a vital part of their school environment. The major theme throughout the data showed that the reason these teachers chose to become mentors was because they wanted to help. Their desire to help new teachers came from either not having a mentor themselves or having been inspired by other mentors. They saw mentoring as their opportunity to help new teachers be successful in their first year as teachers.
Dissertation (Ed.D.)--University of South Florida, 2007.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic dissertation) in PDF format.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 168 pages.
Co-adviser: James Paul, Ed.D.
Co-adviser: Jeannie Kleinhammer-Tramill, Ph.D.
x Special Education
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
The Effects of Mentoring on the Elementary Special Education Mentor by Maria Angeliadis A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education Department of Special Education College of Education University of South Florida Co-Major Professor: James Paul, Ed.D. Co-Major Professor: Jeannie Kleinhammer-Tramill, Ph.D. Daphne Thomas, Ph.D. Jeffrey Kromrey, Ph.D. William Benjamin, Ph.D. Date of Approval: October 4, 2007 Keywords: mentor perspective, developmenta l process, self-efficacy, context, support Copyright 2007, Maria Angeliadis
Dedication The journey I selected to tr avel in search of this study was only possible by the grace of God; therefore I dedicate my work to His Glory. I also dedicate this book to my husband, Gregory, who waited patiently along my way. I dedicate this book to my mother, Alice, for passing on her love of l earning and to my brothers, Jack, Emmanuel and Nick, and my sister, Dena, for their en couragement. I dedicate this book to my beautiful children, George and Aspacia a nd children by marriage, Stacey and Erik, who have been supportive and brighten my life with their love. I dedicate this book to all the students who have brought joy a nd learning into my life. I dedicate this book to my spiritual adviso r, Fr Stanley Harakas, for helping my journey be spiritually peaceful and for helping me realize the joy of my work. I dedicate this book to my close friends, Gl oria and Kay and my cousin Ni ki, who listened patiently and helped transcribe the words of my ment ors. I dedicate this book to the mentors interviewed in this study and whos e voices I promise to support. I dedicate this book to three very spec ial professors, who committed themselves to helping me complete my work and guiding me to complete a worthy study. I thank Dr. William Morse, Dr. James Paul and Dr. Jeannie Kleihammer-Tramill for all the encouragement and advice. Most importantly, I dedicate this journe y to my sweet grandchildren, Amelia, Miccah, Rylee Basilia, and Gregor y, in the hopes that they will love learning as much as I
and will follow in our legacy through higher education and fulfilling their dreams always. May their lives be full of GodÂ’s love and glor y and a desire to con tinue learning always.
i Table of Contents List of Tables iii List of Figures iv Abstract v Chapter One Introduction 1 Problem and Purpose of the Study 1 Research Questions 2 Method 3 Definitions 4 Assumptions 6 Chapter Two Literature Review 7 History of Mentoring 7 Mentor Characteristics 10 Mentee Characteristics 12 Mentoring Relationships 14 Expansion of Mentoring Programs 18 Impact of Mentori ng on Teacher Attrition 20 Research on Mentoring 23 Mentor Selection 25 How Mentoring can be Used 26 Preparation of Mentors 27 Developmental Process of Mentoring 29 Benefits of Mentoring for the Mentor 31 Disadvantages of Mentoring for the Mentor 35 Summary 38 The Need for Additional Research 40 Chapter Three Method 41 Research Participants 41 Selection of Participants 43 Sample Size 44 Qualitative Procedure 44 Data Analysis 50 Pilot Study 50 Data Analysis for the Pilot 51
ii Results of the Pilot Study 51 Limitations of the Dissertation Study 52 Chapter Four Results 55 Question 1 56 Question 2 63 a. Pertaining to Job Satisfaction 64 b. Pertaining to self-worth as a Mentor 68 c. Pertaining to their commitment to their Educati onal Profession 70 Question 3 73 Question 4 83 Question 5 98 Chapter Five Discussion 109 Mentors Interviewed 109 Study 110 ResearcherÂ’s Perceptions 118 Recommendations 120 Conclusion 121 References 124 Appendices 136 Appendix 1 Possible County Sc hoolsÂ’ Training Program 137 Appendix 2 Informed Consent Statement 141 Appendix 3 Interview Questions 144 Appendix 4 Defining Rules 148 About the Author End Page
iii List of Tables Table 1 Demographic of Mentors in Study 42 Table 2 Interview Schedule 49
iv List of Figures Figure 1 Theory of Relationship between Mentor and Mentee 18 Figure 2 Design of the Interview Process 46
v The Effects of Mentoring on the Elem entary Special Education Mentor Maria Angeliadis ABSTRACT Increasingly, mentor programs are being developed in teacher education programs to assist novice teachers. The focus in most of the literature on mentoring is on the new teacher being mentored. While the mentor teac her appears to be the most crucial element in mentoring programs (Feinman-Nemser, 1992; Little, 1990; White, 1995), there is not much information about how a teacher expe riences being a mentor or the perceived benefits to a mentor. The purpose of this present study was to examine the effects of mentoring on mentors in order to: (a) address the gap in the literature by expl oring the effects of mentoring on the mentor, (b) inform the ment oring and mentor training process and (c) examine the effects of mentoring on mentors. To meet these purposes, six mentors in a southeastern county in Florida were interv iewed using SeidmanÂ’s, (1998) protocol. The analysis of the intervie w data revealed that the me ntors felt strongly about the benefits derived from being a mentor. They believed they were a vital part of their school environment. The major theme throughout the data showed th at the reason these teachers chose to become mentors was because they wanted to help. Their desire to help new teachers came from either not having a mentor themselves or having been inspired by other mentors. They saw mentoring as their opportunity to help new teachers be successful in their firs t year as teachers.
1 Chapter 1 Introduction The role of mentors has become a very important aspect of teacher preparation and plays an increasingly sign ificant role in school reform Halford (1998) states that, Â“From classrooms to commission chambers, ed ucation leaders are recognizing the power of mentoring,Â” (pg. 34). During the last two decades, an extensive body of research has examined the nature and effect of mentoring. The literature is rich with information and research on how a mentor benefits from watc hing the growth and gains in knowledge of novice teachers in the field of education (e.g. Dreher & Ash, 1990; Koberg, Boss, Chappell, & Ringer, 1994; Mobley, Jaret, Marsh, & Lim, 1994; Darling-Hammond, 1996; Scandura, 1997: Ragins, Cotton, Miller, 2000). While there is a large body of literature that describes the effect of ment oring on the teacher bei ng mentored (mentee), little literature is available regarding th e impact of mentoring on the mentor. Problem and Purpose of the Study The problem addressed by this study is th at relatively littl e is known about the impact of mentoring on the me ntor. The purposes of the st udy were (a) to address the gap in the literature by explor ing the effects of mentoring on the mentor and (b) to inform the mentor training process. The benefits of mentoring have been widely described in recent literature rela ted to the preparation of new teachers (Houston McDavid, & Marshal, 1990; Huling-Austin, 1990) and the retention of existi ng teachers (Boreen, Johnson, Niday, and Potts, 2000). Darling-Ha mmond (1996) suggests that mentoring is
2 an essential component of the induction of new teachers. Boreen and colleagues have found that the availability of a mentor teache r significantly reduces the risk of teacher attrition during the first 3 to 5 years of serv ice in the field and it may be reasonable to assume that mentoring also increases the li kelihood of retention for the mentor teacher. While the mentor teacher appears to be the most crucial element in mentoring programs (Feinman-Nemser, 1992; Little 1990; White, 1995), and even though mentoring has been found to benefit novice teach ers, there is not much information about how a teacher experiences being a mentor or he r perceptions of the be nefits of mentoring. Little is known about how me ntors experience the process of providing mentoring; thus, information about potentia l opportunities to improve the conditions under which mentoring takes place, the supports needed by mentors, or how teachers assess their effectiveness in their own classrooms or th e classrooms of their mentees, is not yet available. By studying the impact of mentoring on th e mentor, it may be possible to help identify the benefits of serving as a mentor and to help mentors understand and reflect on the process. It is essential for the mentor to understand th e process of mentoring and how he or she impacts the mentee. With this understanding, the mentor will have a better understanding as to how to best meet the needs of a mentee. The results of building this knowledge base may benefit novice teachers, school systems and, most importantly, the education of students. Research Questions The study was designed to address the questio n: What is the impact of mentoring on the mentor? Subordinate questions were de veloped to elicit ment orsÂ’ perceptions of
3 how mentoring affects their beliefs, persp ectives, values, professionalism, level of investment in the quality of education, job satisfaction, and reten tion in their current professional roles. The subor dinate questions included: 1. In what ways do mentors undergo a discernable developmental process based on experience in mentoring other teachers? 2. How does mentoring affect the ment orÂ’s perception of job satisfaction, sense of efficacy, and commitment to the education profession? 3. How does mentoring affect the me ntorÂ’s perception of his/her own teaching and sense of professionalism in his/her own classroom? 4. What contexts and supports do mentor s see as most impor tant to successful mentoring? 5. Does mentoring affect the mentor beliefs and/or values? Method Six individuals served as participants in the study. Participants included special educators at the elementary school level who currently serve as mentors in one Florida school district. The researcher sought nomina tions from building principals in the school district to identify mentor teachers who mi ght wish to participate in the study. The researcher and director of th e mentoring program in the lo cal school district selected potential participants from this group. Pote ntial participants were identified by using three criteria. First, all participants had at least two years of experi ence in the role of mentor. Second, all participants had particip ated in a formal mentor training program delivered by the school district being studi ed. Third, all participants signed a form,
4 approved by the University of South Flor idaÂ’s Institutional Review Board, indicating their consent to participate in the study SeidmanÂ’s (1998) interview framework was used to guide the data collection in answering the research questions. Interviews were completed in three 90 minute sessions. The first interview focused on the me ntorÂ’s personal hist ory as a mentor, the second interview on the mentorÂ’s role, and th e third on the impact of mentoring on the mentor. Specific interview questions related to the overall research question and the five subordinate questions came from two sources : the literature on mentoring, and the researcherÂ’s own experiences as a mentor. After the interviews were conducted and transcribed, the participantsÂ’ responses to each of the three interviews were coded, using Atlas Ti, and the researcher analyzed them to identify common themes. Definitions The terms listed below are common to th e field of mentori ng and were used throughout the dissertation. A brief definition is gi ven to aid the reader. Mentor a mentor in this study is a pe rson who has been selected by the school district being studied to serve in this role A mentor is an individual who takes on the role of counselor, guide, tutor, and adviser to a first-year teacher. In general, teacher mentors aid the new teacher with all aspect s of the school envir onment and classroom, including, for example, lesson planning, behavi or management and pa rent conferencing. They also help new teachers assimila te into the school environment. Mentee/novice teacher Â– a mentee is the new teacher, usually in the first year of teaching experience. The mentee typically has recently completed study through a
5 teacher education program, and has successfu lly completed requirements for certification as an educator. For the most part, the mentee has had no prior e xperience in the school setting beyond their field-based work associat ed with classes, stude nt teaching, and/or a final internship. Mentoring Process Â– for the mentee, the mentoring process is most often a prescribed plan through which the mentee must travel in order to su ccessfully complete the first year of teaching. The process includes learning how to teach subjects, developing strong behavior management skills creating a strong learning environment in the classroom and learning how to comm unicate well with parents, students, administrators and colleagues. For the ment or, this process invol ves providing support and guidance to the mentee that results in the menteeÂ’s acquiring these skills and knowledge. Mentor Programs Â– As defined by the sc hool district being studied, the mentor program involves preparing mentor teachers through a Clinical Education course that gives the mentor strategies and resources to help the me ntee. All mentors are also required to complete a mentor add-on document verifying that they have read materials to update their knowledge of mentoring. The school district being studied offers a voluntary mentor training that increases mentoring ski lls and strategies. Over 1953 mentors have been trained and some are in the process of receiving updated courses. All new teachers in the school district being studied are provided with a mentor.
6 Assumptions The research was based on the assumption that valid and dependable reports of the relevant experiences of mentors can be obtained by using the interview protocol described in this study. The researcher also assumes that information gathered and analyzed is of poten tial value in understanding the pos itive transformation for knowledge between mentor/mentee and the benefits fo r mentors in their own development as educators. This study may be meaningful to mentors, mentor trai ners and supervisors who have had similar experiences and are able to apply the findings in their own professional situation. This kind of generaliza tion in qualitative resear ch is referred to as verisimilitude. The description and analysis of the data obtained from interviewing six (6) mentors in one school district may be rele vant to other mentors and mentor trainers and supervisors on the basis of Â‘verisimilitudeÂ’. Verisimilitude is the quality of appearing to be true or real and has the appearance of being someth ing that is tr ue or real. Therefore, the responses and the analysis of those responses will give the reader an understanding of what the mentor s perceive as true or real
7 Chapter Two Literature Review History of Mentoring The mentoring concept dates back to anci ent Greece. Long befo re the process of mentoring was applied to schools, classrooms and new teachers, mentoring dealt with life schemes and the betterment of a young apprentice When Odysseus went off to fight the Trojan War, he entrusted his son, Telemachus to the tutor, Mentor (Bey& Holmes, 1990; Podsen & Denmark, 2000). The teacher late r revealed herself as the Goddess Athena, patroness of the arts and industry, and accompan ied the youth when he went in search of his missing father (Collie, 1998) As progress and moderniza tion occurred in societies, mentoring became an apprenticeship. Ma ny young boys learned a given trade at the hands of the Â‘expertsÂ’ in the craft. These young Â‘menteesÂ’ were often sent to live in the home of the mentor and would stay until they had learned from the Â‘masterÂ’. Once the trade was mastered, the mentees would begin a life in their chosen trade and often, as they became the Â‘expertsÂ’, they, too, b ecame mentors to other apprentices. Today, we continue to value the roles of mentors for those who are novices to a given field. While young people are no longer sent to learn the trade from the Â‘masterÂ’, or to live with a master as they learned the life-long career they had selected, most fields of work do use the mentoring process to he lp the novice employee. In medicine, for example, an intern is guided and closel y monitored and mentored before beginning practice as an independent professional. In the business world, th e novice is guided by a
8 member of a team of business people who c ontinuously monitor the progress and skill of the mentee. Mentors stand ready to guide and help the new employees, allowing them the opportunity to achieve and complete th e tasks required of their field. In many careers, there are experts who are willing and who make themselves available to assist the novice. Mentoring has become an important aspect of teacher preparation and has called attention to the need to assist novice teacher s in their important first year of teaching. Feiman-Nemser (1996) explains that by th e early 1980s, mentoring had burst onto the educational scene as part of a large moveme nt that focused on improving education, those who create policies to aid education and edu cational leaders who ha ve placed high hopes on using mentors and mentoring as a Â‘veh icleÂ’ for reforming teaching and teaching education (p.1). There has also been a sp eedy increase in creati ng mentoring programs across the nation, with over 30 states ma ndating mentored support for novice teachers (Feiman-Nemser, 1996). Gagen and Bowie (2005), explain that Â“mentoring has been used in many professional-development settings to s upport individuals new to a profession. In particular, mentors are used in education and nursing to support new professionals who must meet the demands of a new positi on while managing the stresses of a new environmentÂ” (p. 40). In a study conducted by Fairbanks, Freedman, and Kahn (2000), fifteen experienced teachers and the novice teachers assigned to them were invited to help explore the characteristics of successful mentoring, dur ing the spring of 1997. The mentors had between 4 to 20 years experience teaching and had excelle nt reputations as
9 teachers. In the study the teachers and novices were expected to document their experiences in dialogue journals and then anal yzed the information with the researchers. The mentors and their mentees attended wo rkshops and were interviewed, videotaped during mentoring conferences a nd identified character istics of effective mentoring. Data were collected throughout the semester. The study identified the following characteristics of effectiv e mentors and mentoring: Mentors help the mentee to survive their beginning teaching experiences Mentors established mentoring relationshi ps that were based on dialogue and reflection Mentors helped build professional partnerships with their mentees (Fairbanks, et al. 2002) In education, the field responsible for cultivating new minds in preparation for participation in society and the workforce, th ere is increased attention to the role and necessity of the mentor for the new educator. Ideally, the mentor undertakes a significant role in helping another person, in this case th e new teacher, to develop into a successful professional. Odell (2006) suggests that ment oring is Â‘typically associated with having experienced teachers work with novice teacher s to help ease the novicesÂ’ transition from a university student learning to teach to full-time teacher in the classroomÂ” (p. 203). The word Â‘mentorÂ’ evokes different imag es of supportive individuals who have assisted and continue to support the mentee in their professional and personal lives (Hansman, 2003). Some see the mentor as a teacher, an advisor, or a sponsor (Levinson et al. 1978). An educational mentor must po ssess many social attri butes and dispositions to interact successfully with the mentee, be able to offer useful information and
10 resources, and give the mentee understandi ng and insight into the education field. The mentor needs to be prepared to model and teach specific classroom skills that will enhance the menteeÂ’s teaching skills. The mentor observes and offers feedback, both positive and constructive. Most importantl y, a mentor is able to offer support and strategies that will assist the mentee to Â‘survi veÂ’ the first, very cri tical and difficult, year of teaching. Mentor Characteristics Zachary (2000) explains, Â“TodayÂ’s mentor is hardly the all-knowing source of wisdom that dispenses knowledge, hands out truths, and protects and guards. Rather, todayÂ’s mentor is a facilitative partner in an evolving learning relationship focused on meeting mentee goals and objectivesÂ” (p.161). Th e literature regarding characteristics of successful mentors suggests th at the mentor must have a complex array of knowledge, skills, and dispositions. In a study focuse d on preparing new teachers for diversity, Achinstein and Athanases (2005) explain the necessity of the mentorÂ’s having knowledge of both student learners and teacher lear ners. The mentor is responsible for understanding the school environment in cont ext at both the classroom level and the community level. The mentorÂ’s ability to transmit this vital knowledge provides a transition for the mentee between the role of novice and that of professional. They also discuss the need for mentors to know teaching as it relates to students. Achinstein and Athanases (2005) also point out that mentors teach, tutor and mentor to the adult learner as new teachers. The role of mentor is sometimes ambiguous; thus, a mentor is not always in the formal position of mentor when the new teach er needs assistance. A relationship needs
11 to be established immediately with the ment ee. An effective mentoring relationship is distinguished by mutual resp ect between the mentor and mentee, trust toward the knowledge and ability of each individual i nvolved, an understanding of the role of teacher and student, and empathy on the part of both participants In the experiences of the researcher, effective mentors are thos e who are willing to share their own life experiences as educators and have the necessa ry astuteness to recognize the strengths and areas of necessary growth in their mentee, without prejudice and with a non-evaluative spirit. Â“Critically reflective mentors find that th ey are more focused in their mentoring relationships. They bring expanded energy, ta ke more informed action, and are generally more satisfied with their mentoring relati onshipsÂ” (Zachary, p. 162). Effective mentors know how to be quiet listeners, cautious observers, and skille d problem-solvers that are a part of the solution and not a part of the pr oblem. Successful mentors make every effort to recognize, acknowledge, and respect the as pirations and interests of the mentee and not attempt to force their own views, values a nd perceptions upon them. The focused mentor accepts the mentee as an individual and makes every attempt to create an environment of trust and safety, which will allow the mentee to accomplish all he or she wishes, being limited only by the extent of his or her own desires and abilities. A mentor is also an important componen t of success for the special education first-year teacher. There is great concern over the problems of attrition and shortage of special education teachers. Mentoring for be ginning special educators has been related to those teachers who have chosen to remain in the special education classroom (Amos, 2005). This is especially cruc ial since there is such a shor tage of special educators.
12 Amos (2005) conducted a small study of special educators in their first semester of teaching in special education classrooms throughout Kansas. The impetus of the study was concerned with defining the mentoring re lationship to determine the usefulness and benefits for future special educators. The me thod used for this Â“generic qualitative minifield studyÂ” included using a sampling of twel ve first year teache rs. Interviews, phone calls, emails and/or mentoring sessions helped provide information. The interviews were taped and notes were taken in other meeti ngs. Mentors were assigned a mentee, although they were given the option to Â‘change their mentorsÂ’ after the first week. The results showed that beginning special education teachers do need an experienced special education mentor who is aware of all the in formation, strategies, curriculum, policies, laws, and resources the mentee needs to be ma de aware of. The findings further explain that beginning special education teachers benefit from appropriate mentoring relationships that would decrease the rate of attrition of teachers in the special education classrooms. Because a beneficial mentoring relationship is tied to keeping these novice teachers in the field of special education, Am os (2005) explains that this will positively affect the learning of the students in the special education classroom. Amos (2005) concludes by saying that Â“the emotional s upport given by an effective mentor to a new special educator, will most likely lead to a successful teaching experience for that beginning special educator, givi ng that new special educator the confidence and skills to continue teaching in th is field (p. 18). Mentee Characteristics The mentees are the second component of the mentoring relationship and need to shoulder the responsibilities that face them dur ing the first year of teaching. Much of the
13 success or failure of that first year hinges on the attitude of the mentee. A mentee also needs to work on forming a positive relations hip with the mentor. The mentee needs to have a strong understanding of his or her ow n goals and expectations and be willing to share them with the mentor. Developing a trusting relationship with the mentor will facilitate growth and understanding for both. Very importantly, just as a successful mentor is one who is willing to be a good a nd patient listener, a mentee also needs to listen and be willing to accept constructive a dvice, accept reflective feedback and attempt to implement mentor suggestions. A mentee is also responsible to work w ith the mentor to find positive solutions and not view the mentor in a critical or nega tive manner. If the mentee does not agree with a mentorÂ’s suggestion, then he or she should discuss this with the mentor in a professional manner and respect the fact that the mentor is also a colleague. This understanding and acceptance on the part of the mentee will allow for a positive experience for both. It will also allow for growth for the mentee and mentor. It will allow for a successful sharing of perceptions, strategies and skills. It will create a strong mentoring relationship. Mentees may need different types of guidance at different points in their development as a teacher. Both mentor and mentee must recognize the limitations of a given relationship and know when to seek persons who can offer additional knowledge and skills. Â“Mentees are likely to have many mentors over the course of a lifetime, based on their individual needs at a specific point in timeÂ” (Zachary, 2000, p.161). At the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, a Beginning Teacher Assistance program was developed as a mentoring proj ect to serve new teachers (Monsour, 2000).
14 In this program, the expertise of local edu cators and principals, from the university and the schools, was used to help train experienced teachers to me ntor first-year teachers. The mentor teachers were required to have been teaching a minimum of five years. They were matched with protgs (mentees) and were considered exemplary teachers in the field. Over five yearsÂ’ data from exit interv iews were collected and analyzed. The data consisted of qualitative interviews, survey s and workshop evaluations. The analysis helped to highlight the qualities desired by mentors. Some of those qualities were: Excellent teaching skills Ability to maintain confidentiality Excellent listening skills Compassionate understanding Ability to model teaching principles Ability to point out options Successful protgs (mentees) exhib ited the following characteristics: Ability to disclose concerns Willingness to trust that confid entially will be maintained Ability to ask for and accept help, especially when overwhelmed (p. 54) This program study mirrors many of the same findings in earlier studies and continues to allow for understanding of what may benefit mentors, mentees, mentor relationships, mentor programs and finally successful classrooms. Mentoring Relationships The character of the mentoring relations hip differs depending on the commitment and willingness on the part of the mentor and the mentee. The mentoring relationship
15 must be based on a shared goal between the ment or and the mentee in order to be able to promote the educational and personal growth of the mentee. As this occurs and the mentee develops into a stronger, more proficie nt teacher, the most important stakeholders Â– students -benefit. New teachers, regardless of their strength or deltas, are the teachers in the classroom with young people who n eed to be taught. When a mentoring relationship is successful and a mentor and me ntee respect the goals and abilities of each other, the children in the classroom are ab le to benefit enormously. Bullough and Baughman (1997) explain this very succinctly: Â“Students rightfully expect instructional and content competence from their teachers, but they also expect to be greeted by a whole person, a caring person, one who knows who and wh at he is, who has moral standing, and who can be counted on to continue standi ng, face to face, with students. (p. 24) As new teachers come into the field of education, it becomes evident, early in their career, that they need guidance and understanding. The field of education is wrought with obstacles and pitfalls for the unsupported teacher. Many education scholars agree that the first year of teaching is exceptionally challenging (Huling-Austin, et. al., 1989; Veenan, 1984). First-year teaching experiences are powerful influences on teach ersÂ’ practice and attitude throughout the remainder of their careers (Kuzmic, 1994). Because of the importance and complexity of beginning teachersÂ’ experiences, their soci alization has received in creasing attention in education research and reform during th e past two decades (Huling-Austin, 1990; Kuzmic, 1994; Gratch, 1998). Da rling-Hammond (1995) points out that it is essential to help the new teachers become a part of the school environment and assist them in learning strategies to cope with the isolati on and stress that often cause them to leave
16 teaching. The role of the mentor has beco me an important aspect of the help and guidance system for helping new teachers su ccessfully join the field of education. Johnson and Kardos (2002) explain: Â“What new teachers want is experienced colleagues who will watch them teach and provide feedback, help them develop instructional strategies, model skilled teach ing, and share insights about studentsÂ’ work (p. 13). The most effective mentoring relationship for the beginning teacher may begin as a transmissive relationship, in which the me ntor initiates the discussions, defines the problems and helps to solve the concerns and problems of the mentee (Zuckerman, 2001). In addition to the assistance provided by an effective mentor, the mentees need the support and understand of the school admini strator who has hired them to teach. Sargent (2003) states, Â“To establish a suppor tive environment for new teachers, schools must offer teachers professional development opportunities and provide a social setting in which teachers enjoy working. Teachers who feel welcome in their new school environment form relationships that will tie them to the school for years to come,Â” (pg. 44). When a new teacher recognizes the cam araderie of caring and friendliness among the staff at the school in whic h he or she teaches, there is a perception of belonging and support. This holds true for all teachers, including those who are novices and those who are veterans. Despite the desire to form positive ment oring relationships between the mentor and mentee, there can be barriers toward the development of successful connections. In a research study conducted in four school districts, the types of concerns and problems that can become a detriment in K12 mentoring re lationships were examined. In the study,
17 149 mentoring teams in four districts were involved in providing data, through surveys and interviews. After collecti on and analysis of the data, the study was able to identify common sets of problems in the mentoring t eams, as well as identifying, introducing and assessing intervention strategies. The resu lts emphasized the need to continue the assessment of mentoring programs and mentor ing relationships. It was also strongly suggested that mentor selecti on should be more carefully considered and that in-services and workshop opportunities should be made available to mentors to help in the establishment of more successful mentor prog rams. It was felt that this would greatly benefit the novice teacher and the classr oom (Kilburg, G. M. & Hancock, T., 2006). Teachers are typically willing to give their fullest effort in an environment where they are valued, supported and accepted. When the school environment is welcoming to its staff, it reflects that caring to students and parents. The school becomes a place where learning thrives. The administra tors of a school play an impor tant role in this thriving environment. Evans asserts that: Â“Principals need to provide the same thing for teachers that good teachers give students: real challenges-goals that stretch you, but that you can reach; and real inspiration-encouragement to keep trying no matter what (1996, p. 289). Gagen and Bowie (2005), suggest that Â“comprehensive training, along with the opportunity to ask questions and become more familiar with the problems and expectations involved in thei r role, will relieve mentors' anxiety about taking on the responsibility of mentoring the novice teacher,Â”(p. 42).
18 Figure 1: Theory of How Mentoring Impacts the Mentor Expansion of Mentoring Programs In the recent past, many states have di rected their schools to create mentoring programs for beginning teachers (Boreen, et al. 2000). As early as the late 1980s, thirtyone states had adopted statewide mentoring a nd twelve more states had district level programs (Wilder, 1992). Blair/Larsen (1998) poi nt out that state le gislatures have now mandated programs as part of the teacher cert ification and licensure process in order to Mentor -personal characteristics -preparation -willingness to mentor -evidence of aptitude for being good mentor -recognition of expertise Mentee -personal characteristics -preparation -willingness to learn and accept constructive tips -evidence of aptitude for being good mentee -recognition of expertise Relationship Interpersonal relationship and how it transfers Â–one to the other and back (dispositions: perfunctory to bonding) (Psychological connec tion or disconnection) Evaluatio n Application of that practical knowledge Evaluation /success (Keeping in mind the psychological connection or disconnection between mento r -mentee )
19 provide excellent teachers for educating their constituents. The 2000 Florida Legislature enacted legislation to initiate the Florida Mentor Teacher School Pilot Program (Florida Department of EducationÂ–Division of Prof essional Educators, 2000). This program was piloted at the following Florida schools: Gardendale Elementary Magnet School, Brevard School district, Flor ida State University School, Le on School district, Sebastian Middle School, St. Johns School district, Palmetto Elementary School, Manatee School district, Heritage Elementary School, a nd Pahokee Mid/Senior Hi gh School, Palm Beach School district, and Ryder Elementary Char ter School, Miami-Dade School district. Zuckerman notes, Â“Formal mentoring progr ams for beginning inservice teachers have been proliferating rapidly since th e 1980Â’sÂ” (Abell, Dillon, Hopkins, McInerney & OÂ’Brien, 1995; Furtwengler, 1995; Gold, 1996; Huffman & Leak, 1986; Little, 1990). These programs may ease the tran sition of the mentee during th e first year of teaching. Having strong programs in place for the mentee can help alleviate difficulties and allow schools to retain pote ntially good teachers. There has consistently been a call for more training for mentors and more structured mentor programs. In a study by Prater and Sileo (2004) they attest that national reports and legislat ion (No Child Left Behind) call for improved teacher preparation. Questions asked in the study dealt with compensation for mentors and minimum qualifications for mentor teacher s. A 20-question survey was prepared, distributed, completed and returned in stam ped, self-addressed enve lopes. The survey was sent to every third institution of higher education listed in the National Directory of Special Education Personnel Preparati on Programs (Council of Exceptional Children (CEC), 1991). Of the respondents, 11.1% sa id mentors do not receive any form of
20 compensation, while others responded that mentors receive university tuition and privileges, adjunct faculty status, rec ognition and appreciation and professional development activities. Those institutions that provide a stipe nd average about $147 per term or semester. As for the qualifications that respondents identified the most, years of experience was selected by 99 of the 115 surv eys which were returned. Approximately 47% felt mentor teachers needed a teacher license, certificat ion or credentials in an appropriate area. There were actually 18.2% that felt mentors should have a masterÂ’s degree in education. Much of the study points to the need for more structured teacher preparation programs and more research to be done to establish programs for training and mentoring. Â“Arthur E Wise, President of NC ATE, argues that teachers are no different from other licensed professionals such as docto rs, engineers, accountan ts, and pilots. All Â“require grounding in the profe ssionÂ’s knowledge base and in how to apply it as required though extended supervised practiceÂ” (NCA TE, 2002, n.p. as found in Prater & Sileo, 2004, p. 259). Berliner (2002) concurs: Â“T odayÂ…hundreds of teacher education programsÂ…have strong field-based programsÂ… These ensure that students understand propositional and procedural knowledge (how to do things such as preparing a lesson plan) in real-world context(s)Â…Teaching is not a craft to be learned solely through apprenticeship. (pp. 354-5) (As found in Pr ater & Sileo, 2004, p. 259). Thus, it is necessary to train mentors, as well as teachers. Impact of Mentoring on Teacher Attrition High rates of attrition among novice teachers have been well documented in the literature (Harris and Asso ciates, 1992, 1993; Schlechty & Vance, 1981, 1983). Nearly
21 30% of novice beginning teachers will leave th e profession within the first 5 years of their career (Boreen, et. al., 2000). Amos (2005) reveals that Â“an a nnual attrition of 40 percent of beginning special e ducators leave the field of special education by their fifth year. This was reported by the Council of Exceptional Children (p.14). Mentoring programs have become a common response to this growing concern (Tellez, 1992). According to Boreen, Johnson, Niday, and Potts (2000) much research suggests that mentoring reduces attriti on by one-half or more, and teachers who have mentors are more likely to stay in the fi eld. Likewise, Odell and Ferraro (1992) report that 96% of the elementary teachers who received mentoring were still teaching four years later. Millinger (2004) points out that: Â“In the 1999-2000 school years, approximately 500,000 public and private school teachers left the teaching profession, with more than 123,000 of them attributing their departure to a lack of appropriate administrative support. Nearly one-fourth of new teachers leave the professi on after only two years and one-third leave after three years (Ingersoll, 2002, p. 66). Millinger further stat es, Â“Reversing this trend of new teacher attritions requires finding cost -effective ways to gi ve teachers opportunities to grow, to learn from their mistakes, and, mo st important, to ask for help,Â” (p. 66). This points to the necessity for strong, effective mentoring programs which would support the new teacher and decrease the rising numbers of teachers w ho leave the education field (Millinger, 2004). With strong support and mentor guidance, th e rate of attrition can be decreased. Odell, 1992, found that the attrition rate for teachers receiving one y ear of mentoring was only 16 percent after four years of teaching, about half the nationa l attrition rate. In fact, 80 percent of the teachers who had received ment oring predicted that they would still be
22 teaching in ten years. Nationa l attrition rates indicate that 17 percent of educators leave teaching after one year, 30 percent after two years, and 40 percent after three years, nearly half after five years, and up to 80 percent after ten years (Heyns, 1988; HulingAustin 1986; Morey and Murphy, 1990). In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that new t eachers leave the education field and their classrooms at a rate five times higher than those of their more experienced colleagues (1999). It is also important to point out that not only does the field of education lose good teachers to attrition, the need to retain beginnin g teachers is compounded by the job market prospects. A 1996 report by the Nationa l Commission on Teaching and AmericaÂ’s Future estimated that in the next ten years, half of the nationÂ’s educators would retire. This factor, combined with an expected incr ease in the number of students, means that by 2005, the nationÂ’s classroom needed more than two million new educators. Mentoring, thus, becomes even more vital (Boreen, et. al, 2000). The quality of education depends upon teacher ability. To ensure that students of the future will be challenged to think and to learn, it is imperative that the educational community find a way to retain the talent ed teachers who are leaving the profession (Boreen, et. al., 2000). Mentoring has become an important aspect in education. A good mentor is able to help the novice teacher in the critical first year. The mentoring process can be used to retain good teachers, before they choose to leave teaching. The astounding number of teachers who leave the profession of education, after only a few years of service, discuss the very difficult and painful first year as testimony to the st ruggles that beginning teachers face and therefore, speak to th e tremendous need for mentor teachers
23 (Rosenholtz, 1989; Veenman, 1984). Perhaps beginning teachers experience difficulties because teaching is the only profession that ex pects its beginners to be responsible for the same work veterans perform (Lortie, 1975); mo reover, beginning teachers are typically given the most difficult or undesirable te aching situations (Darling-Hammond, 1996). They are placed in classrooms with unrul y students, difficult parents and many children who have difficulty learning. As accountab ility for student lear ning is placed on the shoulders of new teachers, many are unwilling to stay after the first year. Research on Mentoring Mentoring has been the focus of much research and discussion over the past decade. Comparisons of non-mentored and ment ored individuals yield consistent results: compared to non-mentored individuals, indivi duals with informal mentors report greater career satisfaction (Fagenson, 1989), career co mmitment (Colarelli & Bishop, 1990), and career mobility (Scandura, 1992). As describe d earlier, teachers w ho are mentored are more likely to stay in the field of educati on. Informal protgs also report more positive job attitudes that nonmentored individuals (D reher & Ash, 1990; Koberg, Boss, Chappell, & Ringer, 1994; Mobley, Jaret, Ma rsh, & Lim, 1994; Scandura, 1997). Darling-Hammond (1996), Executive Dire ctor of the National Commission on Teaching and AmericaÂ’s Future asserts, Â“To retain new teachers, we must do two things: design good schools in which to teach, and empl oy mentoringÂ” (p.34). Mentoring has led to more confidence, greater teacher satisf action, and expectations for longer tenure among new teachers who rated their mentor s as effective (Houston, Marshal, & McDavid, 1990). For over a decade, reform ers have called for induction programs with mentors to ease the transiti on of beginning teachers into full time teaching (Huling-
24 Austin, 1990). Many (Cochran-Smith, 1991; Feiman-Nemser, 1983; Koerner, 1992; Staton & Hunt, 1991) believe that working with an experienced teacher will help shape a beginning teacherÂ’s beliefs and practices. Mo st induction programs attempt to increase retention and improve the instruction of new teachers (Odell, 1986). The significance of mentori ng is becoming important to school reform, as well. Halford (1998) states that, Â“F rom classrooms to commission chambers, education leaders are recognizing the power of mentoringÂ” (p. 34) The role of mentors has become a very important feature of teacher training. In a study by Whitaker (2002), a statisti cally significant re lationship between effectiveness of mentoring and first-year special education teacher plans to remain in special education was reported. Although the e ffect size was small, it was felt that with the large number of special educators leav ing the field, the study results showed the influence on retention of these teachers was si gnificant. Participan ts were first-year special education teachers. Random samples of 200 teachers were selected. Firstand second-year special education t eachers, mentors of special education teachers, and special education program administrators participat ed by responding to discussions in a focus group. Participants were divided into two gr oups of first-and sec ond-year teachers, one group of seven mentors and one group of ei ght administrators; each was taped. The researcher developed a questionnaire based on data collected from the focus groups. Of the 200 questionnaires sent out, 134 were returned after the first mailing and 36 after the second. The data was analyzed and results reported. The overall information reported showed that mentoring is supported as a component of induction of beginning special education teachers. Â“The provision of emotional support and assistance with the
25 mechanics of the job seems to facilitate entr y into the profession, improve job satisfaction and result in a slight increase in th e retention in the fieldÂ” (p. 557). Mentor Selection The mentor teacher appears to be the mo st crucial element in mentoring programs (Feinman-Nemser, 1992; Little, 1990; White, 1995) The process of mentor selection is considered one of the strongest determinants of perceived program effectiveness (Little, 1990; White, 1995). An analysis of the literatu re reveals professional characteristics of good mentors. Among those attributes are: ment or teachers should be viewed as experts by their peers, (Bird, 1986; Galvez-Hjornevik, 1986), mentor teachers should be able to demonstrate the ability to be reflective and analytical regarding teaching (Borko, 1986), mentor teachers should have a desire to mentor and work with new teachers (Varah, Theune, & Parker, 1986) and mentors should ha ve a strong commitment to their own role as leaders in their teacher community (Howey & Zimpher, 1986). Teachers become better mentors when they have 3 to 5 years of experience, are considered master teachers, have been traine d to mentor, teach in the same certification area, same grade level, and same building as the new teacher, and they volunteer for the assignment (CEC, 1997; Huling-Austin, 1992; Little, 1990; Odell, 1990; White, 1995). Personal characteristics include being flex ible, tolerant, involved, a good listener, nonjudgmental, realistic, car ing, supportive and professi onal (Feinman-Nemser, 1992; Feinman-Nemser & Parker, 1993; Recruiti ng New Teachers, 1999). These personal characteristics and attributes allow the mentor to guide the novice teacher through the process of learning to teach.
26 In considering the process for selecti ng teachers to enter into a mentoring program, Ganser (1995) suggests that veteran teachers serve as mentors. To ensure teacher competency and practice, mentor t eachers should have several years successful teaching experience, including a long affilia tion with their present school and school district. A suggestion of sources of info rmation of prospective teachers would be beneficial, including letters of nominations, and statements based on a prospective mentorÂ’s philosophies of teaching (Ganser, 1995) No teacher should be forced to act as a mentor, but volunteers should be wi lling to take on the position. How Mentoring can be Used Mentoring can be used in a number of situations to help an individualÂ’s development. One example is during the en try of an individual into an organization, commonly referred to as the organizational socialization of a ne w employee. McManus and Russell (1997) identify three phases of organizational socialization during which a mentor could play a useful role: anticipatory socialization: learning about an organization that occurs prior to becoming an employee, including information from recruitment efforts, the organizationÂ’s reputa tion and job previews; encounter: becoming an employee and learning through di rect experience what the organization is actually like; and change and acquisition: mastering important skills and roles while adjusting to the work groupÂ’s values and norms. Mentoring may be one career development tool organizations use to socialize newcomers (p. XX)
27 A mentor is commonly described an important friend, and someone who can guide the mentee and be responsible for watchi ng over the mentee and their career. In a paper written to discuss findings of a review of classroom-based action research at Aga Kahn University, a study was conducted involv ing approaches to teacher development (Halai, 2006). In this review a mentor is defined as a Â“c ritical friendÂ…in the mentoring interactionsÂ…that was supportive (as a friend) and yet encouraged the mentee to take a critical stance towards his or her practi ce (p. 710). A strong, we ll-trained mentor is crucial to the success of the new teacher. Mentors who are effectively trained and have experien ce in the school can help with the transition into the school environment (Gagen & Bowie, 2005, p. 41). As Moir (2003) has said, "The real-life classroom presents questions that only real-life experience can answer. Mentors help provi de those answers," (p. 5). Preparation of Mentors Mentors should be prepared to mentor Programs to prepare mentors should commit themselves to adequate time, intensit y, and focus to prepare teachers to fill this important role. The role of the mentor mu st be well defined to void ambiguity and unattainable expectations (Darling-Hamm ond, 1996; Feiman-Nemser, Parker and Zeichner, 1992; Lane & Canosa, 1995; Little, 19 90). Further, the prep aration needs to be sustained and should model effective theory, research and practice. Reiman and ThiesSprinthall (1997) submit that su ch preparation for supervisor y and coaching roles should be multifaceted, and include both formal course work and guided practical or laboratory experiences in which basic helping skills, supervision and coaching principles and knowledge of the developing a dult learner are acquired.
28 A study conducted by Everston and Smithey (2 000), discusses the effectiveness of using a research-based mentoring program to prepare mentors to support their mentees. An inquiry-based mentoring workshop, which used information and materials developed and evaluated over a ten year period, was used to help trai n mentors. Monthly follow-up meetings with mentors and protgs (men tees) were conducted to help the team understand teaching successes and concerns, doc ument the goal setting of the mentor and mentee and review weekly ment oring activities. In the research, questions revolved around development of specific knowledge and skills needed to assi st the new teachers and if the use of these skills results in mo re student learning as opposed to classrooms without mentor support. One group consisted of nine districts w ith 21 participating schools and the second consisted of 14 schools. There were a total of 46 mentor teachers and 46 novice teachers participating in the study. Before the beginning of the school year, all 46 protgs (mentees ) attended a 3-day workshop covering effective classroom organization, establishment of classroom rou tines and behavior management practices. Twenty-three of the mentors participated in a 4-day work shop. The other twenty-three experienced mentors were in the comparis on group and did not participate in the workshop (p. 297). Data were collected through observation at least three times and some from four to six times. Videotapes of mentor-prot g conferences were taken. Summaries from weekly meetings and monthly goa l-settings were analyzed. Results indicated that there was no di fference in the prepared versus the comparison group mentors. In analysis of th e videotapes, there was significant evidence to show that the prepared ment or was better able to support their protgs (mentee). As
29 for the weekly summaries of mentoring ac tivities and monthly goal-setting summaries showed that the prepared mentors used voca bulary consistent with what was learned in the mentor and protg (mentee) workshop and that the prepared mentors elaborate more about what mentoring activities should be practiced, how they will be accomplished and what results could be expect ed (p. 301). This study pr ovided evidence that preparing mentors for working with their mentees helps the mentor/mentee team be more successful and help increase skills and pract ices that will enable the mentees to be successful in their classrooms with the skills and knowledge necessa ry to conduct an effective class. The researchers felt an important finding in their st udy was that Â“the pres ence of a mentor is not enough; the mentorÂ’s knowledge and skills of how to mentor ar e also crucialÂ” (p. 306). This study shows that a prepared ment or can most benefit the mentee through the first-year of teaching. Developmental Process of Mentoring Kram outlined two basic mentoring functions: career and psychosocial. Career mentoring involves promotion a nd visibility, sponsorship, so cialization, and coaching; psychosocial mentoring is more general in it s role of friendship, affirmation, modeling, counseling, and support (Kram, 1985). Both fo rms of mentoring provide valuable access to power structures and an understanding of Â“culture in the settings or circumstances of importance to the protgs in the relationshipsÂ” (Ragin s 1997b; Ragins and Scandura 1994). According to Kram (1983), mentoring relationships progress through a series of Â“four predictable, yet not enti rely distinctÂ” developmental phasesÂ—initiation, cultivation, separation, and redefinition (p. 614). Each of the phases or steps allows for the mentor and mentee to participate in an effective re lationship. By progressing through each of the
30 phases successfully, the mentor and mentee bot h benefit. The progression would allow the mentor to help build a positive founda tion for the mentee, help promote a strong commitment to the classroom, allow the ment ee to grow and be able to go from newly graduated student teacher to teacher and also help give the mentees the ability to become proficient enough to lead th e classroom themselves. In addition, while the majority of empiri cal research has focused on the benefits of mentoring in a dyad (one-to-one), Kaye and Jacobson (1995) propose group mentoring where one senior colleague mentors several juni or protgs. This format allows protgs to benefit from the advice of a mentor as well as to exchange ideas and receive feedback from other group members (Hansman, 2003). Through effective collaboration between mentor and mentee, a higher quality of professional development can be attained and this can affect teacher learning. Richardson & Anders (2005) suggest that Â“Professional development may be defined as Â“a purposeful educational program designed to engage teachers in developing their knowledge, skills, or habits of mind,Â” (p. 206). In an article written by Nielsen, Barry, and Addison (2006), it was stated that research has shown that an effective way to help new teachers continue in their developmental growth and process was to in clude them in Â‘highly structured induction programsÂ’. In their article, authors cited many individuals who were proponents of these programs in order to help new teachers, Â‘through mentoring, professional learning and emphasizing collaboration that is broad and focu sedÂ’ (p. 14). They also stated research shows that Â“Common characteri stics across reviews note that teachers are more apt to increase their learning and appl y it in their classrooms if their professional development
31 experiences are long term, focused on content, and in coherence with their daily teaching lives; if they respect their current knowledge; and if they include opportunities for active learning and collaborationÂ” (p. 22). They suggest that thes e findings are similar to the findings on induction research. They stat e, Â“Induction programs are essentially professional frameworks for novice teachers. As professionals, we should build bridges between these two bodies of knowledge and determine which components of a newteacher induction program affect the ultimat e goal: student achievementÂ” (pp. 22-23). The importance of teacher mentoring is definitely a major component in the development of new teachers, professionally and personally. The mo re a new teacher is helped to develop necessary skills to effectively teac h, the stronger the commitment becomes to the school community and most im portantly, to the students who will benefit from those skills. Benefits of Mentoring for the Mentor As witnessed by the abundance of literat ure found, it is apparent that mentoring truly benefits the mentee. There are, however many benefits for the mentor, as well. Serving as mentor allows teachers to expand their own development of teaching strategies and enhance their own teaching styles. Bansc hbach (1993) suggests that through mentoring, novice teachers are able to be come familiar with a variety of teachers, classrooms and schools, thus, decreasing the physical isolation th at can be found in teaching. By doing this, a mentor becomes a partner in problem solving and guides new teachers to develop their own teaching styl e without intruding on the menteesÂ’ often tentative drive for their own identity and i ndependence as educators. (Feinman-Nemser & Parker, 1993, p. 699). A mentor is also seen as an agent of change, someone who is
32 always helping new teachers build networks and break down the isolation associated with the first year (Feinman-Nemser, 1992; Feinman-Nemser, Parker & Zeichner, 1992; Feinman-Nemser & Parker, 1993). When helping novice teachers with the le arning process, mentors continue to develop their own progression as effective teachers. Kosk ela (1998) gives three major areas for the role of mentor: modeling, gui ding and facilitating. Each of these areas becomes a teaching and learning experience for the novice and the mentor. The mentor models correct teaching strate gies, helps to guide the novice through lessons, by planning with the novice and helps to smooth the way toward a rewarding experience in teaching. It is important, therefore, to take many thi ngs into consideration when selecting teachers to mentor. As mentors, veteran teachers can learn from their mentees about innovations in pedagogy and technology-based instructions (Thoresen, 1997 ). More important, however, they can also be re vitalized, first by their mentee sÂ’ energy and idealism and second by opportunities th e relationship affords for such activities as recalling and reflecting on their own experiences as a be ginning teacher (Abell et al., 1995; Benoit & Braun, 1989; Healy & Welchert, 1990). Vete ran teachers can thus recover from the weariness that is such a familiar consequence of both the repetitive nature of teaching and its limited opportunities for advancement (Lor tie, 1975; Thies-Sprint hall & Sprinthall, 1987). Mentors also found that working with beginning teachers engaged them in reflection about their own instruct ion practices (Holloway, 2001). Mentoring contributes to the development of professional expertise. It facilitates team building and cross training, and enhances job satisfaction (Pet erson & Provo, 1998).
33 Further, as Stalker (1994) and others ha ve suggested, mentoring holds promise for promoting structural change and more e quitable opportunities in our institutions, agencies, and organizations (Cohen & Galb raith 1995; Daloz 1999; Daresh 2001). Thus, mentoring may provide significant developmen tal assistance to both the mentor and protg, while benefiting a learning society as well. Banschbach and Prenn (1993) very aptly point out that a transfor mation occurs in the mentor due to the experiences found in ment oring. This results in mentors becoming teacher leaders. As quoted, Â“Through mentori ng, mentor teachers become familiar with a variety of teachers, classrooms, and schools, thereby overcoming the physical isolation that typifies teaching.Â” (p. 127). Because of this opportunity, many mentors play a large role in the structure and environment of th eir respective schools. They are given the opportunity to make a difference. In a study conducted by Zuckerman (2001), three veteran teac hers serving as mentors, were asked to respond to questions three different times over the period of one school year. The study searched to analyze how each was transformed, and for a better understanding of the collaborative mentoring re lationship that was to be the context for that transformation (Zuckerman, 2001). The re searcher was interested in discovering the difference in a collaborative re lationship between the mentor and mentee, instead of just having the mentor explain and solve the menteeÂ’s pedagogical problems. The three mentors' stories began to surface during a year-long, interview study of seven veteran teachers in five New Jersey secondary schools as each participated in his or her district's formal mentoring program. The purpose of the study was to understand, from the perspectives of mentors esta blishing such a collaborative relationship, the potential for
34 their own transformation (p. 19). The 40to 50minute interviews consis ted of a series of somewhat repetitive, indirect open-ended questions focused on the experience of being a mentor. Each interview was audio taped a nd the tapes transcribed. The collected data was then analyzed for evidence that the relationship had been collaborative. Of the seven mentors interviewed, three stories demonstrated the potential in a collaborative mentoring relationship for th e veteran teacher to emerge from the experience transformed. They stated they felt revitalized and realized an enhanced sense of their own professional worth. From this particular study, it can be seen that a collaborative mentoring relationship has the potential to provide the context for the revitalization of a veteran teacher. In fact, however, none of the other four ve teran teachers participating in this study established a collaborative mentoring relati onship or emerged from the experience so transformed. In one of the four cases, the ment or saw his role as little more than the sharing of curricular materials and resour ces, never going beyond showing and telling his mentee what to do. Consequently, by th e beginning of the second quarter, the relationship was virtually over. Even with the dissatisfaction of some of the mentors involved in their experience, this intensive study of veteran secondary school teachers acting as a mentor in a formal mentoring program confirms the work of othe rs who have found that in the very process of collaborating, mentor teachers effect not on ly the transformation of their mentees but their own transformation, as well (Hea ly & Welchert, 1990; Thompson, 1999). Although one cannot generalize about what is typical from these few accounts, they do provide insight into the kinds of transf ormations that are possible and how school
35 administrators and mentors can promote a nd support such relationships (Zuckerman, 2001). Disadvantages of Mentoring for the Mentor On the other hand, the role of mentor may also cause stress for the individual who has undertaken the task of helping the novice t eacher. Kelley (1993) submits that this may contribute to burnout in mentor teachers. Mentor teachers play a dual role in their own career: one as teacher and one as facilitator. Sepa rate studies by Accuse, (1983); Cassese and Mayerberg, (1984); & Hunt, ( 1984), found that women experienced more emotional exhaustion, less ability to depers onalize situations (Dale & Weinberg, 1989), and less feeling of personal accomplishmen t (Caccese & Mayerberg), than men. These factors may make it difficult to retain good mentor s. Solutions to these concerns can be found through collaboration and with teachers w ho serve as mentors and individuals who design mentoring programs. Despite the numerous positive benefits of mentoring, tension can arise in a mentoring relationship. The most common prob lem in mentoring is a lack of time for collegial conversations and obs ervations. Differences in educational philosophies can create barriers between the beginning teach ers and mentor (Boreen, Johnson, Niday, and Potts, 2000). Researchers studying the mentoring of teachers tend to encourage separating mentoring and evaluation (Bey & Holmes, 1992). Beginning teachers may well hesitate to approach their mentors with problems if they are aware that these same mentors will later evaluate their performance. Fritz (2006) reveals: Â“mentoring st udent teachers can be a rewarding experience for the mentor teacher, while at the same time one of the most
36 anxiety driven experiences for the student teacher,Â” (pg. 10). Si milarly, mentors may find it difficult to be objective in evaluati ng beginning teachers for whom they feel empathy. Requiring mentors to evaluate cr eates a conflict betw een the involvement required for nurturing and the objectivity required for judging. Ideally, beginning teachers should be free to view their mentor as guides, thinkers, and coaches (Boreen, Johnson, Niday, & Potts, 2000). As part of his research, Cornell (2003) conducted a study used to identify some critical perceptions as well as significan t differences in perceptions of mentors functioning in a district that has had a CPDT (Centers for Professional Development and Technology) for a number of years versus t hose in one recently formed. It was hoped that the comparison might help determine if quality of perceptions and interactions appear to have improved over time as a natura l function of the collaborative effort. An important aspect of the study of program func tioning was how mentor teachers view their role and relationships with others in the joint venture. The individuals in the study consisted of mentor teachers in the seven f unctioning CPDT's established in collaboration between Texas A & M University -Commerce and local school di stricts in the north-east Texas area, including both "new" centers a nd those that have been functioning for a number of years. A questionnaire involving 2 demographic questions and 13 perceptual statements was sent to every mentor in both district s. The 13 statements required a response according to a Likert-type scale. One hundred questionnaires were sent and sixty-six were returned. The results showed that the typical mentor teacher was female, had from five to twenty years' experience as an elemen tary teacher and was most often assigned to
37 an early-elementary grade. Fift y percent of the entire sample agreed that the more years of teaching experience one has, the better mentor he or she would be. Seventy-two percent, in bot h districts, felt their ment or role was satisfying and fulfilling. Those who did not agree that th eir role was satisfying and fulfilling cited concerns with the amount of time and work re quired, or dissatisfaction with interns and residents Â‘menteesÂ’ unwillingness to contribut e sufficient time and energy to classroom activities. Of those who responded, fiftynine percent in both distri cts agreed they would not hesitate to be a mentor teacher in any future field-based situations. The wording "I would not hesitate" in the question was written to help screen those who, though willing to be mentor teachers, might attach one or more conditions to their agreement to do so. Nevertheless, just a little ove r half indicated a wi llingness to be future mentors. This figure does not match that of seventy-two pe rcent who identified their mentor role as satisfying and fulfilling. A relatively larg e group (20%) that fell into the "neutral" category may have had doubts a bout certain aspects of the pr ogram or their role in it. These, plus twenty-one percent who indi cate they would not become mentors again, yields a total of forty-one percent of the current mentors who remain in the "doubtful" category as candidates for future mentor serv ice. The study determined that mentors saw themselves as lacking in opportunities to communicate their concerns to program administration, and to be able to do so while enjoying a degree of impunity. Much of the study data appeared to refl ect a frustrated desire on the part of mentor teachers for empowerment and genuine recognition of their inputs, suggestions and concerns. They perceived themselves as a critical component in implementing the
38 field-based program, yet with few opportunities to contribute to its content and direction, as would a true partner in the program (Cor nell, 2003). This dissati sfaction in mentoring could serve as a detriment to the mentoring process and the mentor teacherÂ’s perception of mentoring. Summary In the realm of teacher preparation, me ntors facilitate the training of the preservice teacher. The mentor assists the preservice teacher through the developmental stages of internship and, often, helps the pr eservice teacher to successfully complete the first year of teaching. Much literature is available regarding th e positive effect of mentoring on the individual being mentored. In the education field, mentoring has become a necessary aspect of teacher preparation programs. A reflection on the hi story of formal mentoring in the United States shows mentor programs were developed during the 1980s. In 1980; Florida's program for mentor ing new teachers was the only state sponsored effort (Gibb & Welch, 1998). By the late 1980s, 31 states had adopted statewide mentoring and 12 more states ha d district level programs (Wilder, 1992). Blair-Larsen (1998) points out that state legislature have now mandated programs as part of the teacher certification and licensing process in order to pr ovide excellent teachers for educating their constituents. Along with the advantages for novice teach ers in having a mentor, there are many benefits for the mentor, as well. When help ing novice teachers with the learning process, mentors continue to develop their own teachi ng styles and allow for renewed interest in their own progression as effective teachers.
39 Kelley (1993) submits that mentor teach ers may experience burnout. The mentor teacher plays a dual role in his/her own career : one as teacher and one as facilitator. Separate studies by Caccese, (1983), C accese & Mayerberg, (1984), and Hunt, (1984), found that women who served as mentors e xperienced more emotional exhaustion, less ability to depersonalize situa tions (Dale & Weinberg, 1989), and less feeling of personal accomplishment (Caccese & Mayerberg, 1984) than did men. These factors may make it difficult to retain good mentor s. Solutions to these concerns can be found through collaboration with other teachers who serv e as mentors and individuals who design mentoring programs. Through this collabora tion, each member of the team will feel ownership of the program. Serving as mentor also allows teacher s to expand their own development of teaching strategies and enhance their own t eaching styles. Banschbach (1993) suggests that through mentoring, novice teachers are able to become familiar with a variety of teachers, classrooms, and schools, thus, decr easing the physical isolation that can be found in teaching. Gagen and Bowie (2005) offer the following conclusion to give insight into the mentoring process: Â“Providing organized, comprehensive, me ntorship training is an appropriate way for the profession to begin to address the problem of teacher retention. Successful novice teachers, backed up by effectiv e mentors, are more likely to remain in the profession and they will become potenti al mentors for the new professionals who come after them,Â” (p. 46).
40 The Need for Additional Research While there is much literature which describes the effect of mentoring on the teacher being mentored, less literature is readily available to discuss the impact of mentoring on the mentor. One purpose of the pr esent study is to address that gap in the literature. The second purpose of the study is to develop a better understanding of the mentor and mentoring process. The st udy will discuss how the mentoring teacher develops through the process of mentoring, how the experience might help improve the mentor in the capacity as a mentor, how the process of mentoring might help transform the mentor in a professional capacity and how the mentoring process might help the mentor improve as a classroom teacher. Figure 1 provides a hypothe tical framework for how mentoring may impact mentor and the mentee. The study includes information on mentor education and training, personal history of the mentor, experiences as a mentor and how the mentor perceives the role of mentor. The information will be analyzed to de termine common themes between the mentors being interviewed. The study may lead to id entification of strategi es that will enable mentors to be as effective as possible when mentoring first year teachers and provide information about how to enhance mentor programs.
41 Chapter 3 Method Research Participants The participants in this study were si x experienced special education teachers from a southwestern school distri ct in Florida. As described in the paragraphs to follow, all participants had completed mentor traini ng required by the school district in order to be able to work with a beginning teacher. The six mentors selected for this study came from various professional and cultural back grounds. They had taught for a time period ranging from 5 to 25 years, and they had served as mentors for 2 to 15 years. All mentors selected were currently employed as elementa ry, special education teachers. Two of the mentors had also served as behavioral spec ialists for self-contained classes. Three currently taught in middl e socioeconomic schools (with one being close to a high socioeconomic rating), two in low soci oeconomic schools and one in a high socioeconomic school. Two of the schools in which the participants taught earned a grade of A from the state for FCAT testing, two attained a B and two scored a C. One high and one mid-socioeconomic school ea rned an A; one midand one lowsocioeconomic school earned a B; while one midand one low-socioeconomic school scored a C grade based on the FCAT testin g results. Four of the schools earned provisional Adequate Yearly Progre ss (AYP) status, while two did not. The mentors included four females and two males, who had taught grades K through 12. All mentors were very willing to be interviewed and reflect upon the study
42 and offered their time to work with the resear cher. The characteristics of the mentors are included in Table 1. Table 1: Demographics for Mentors in Study (Fictitious names used) Mentor Gender Ethnicity Grades Taught Years Teaching Training Years Mentor School SES School Grade School AYP 1. Barbara F Caucasian Preschool 1-5 16 yrs Clinical Ed 2 yrs low B Provisional 2. Christina F Caucasian Spec Ed K-12 Basic 5th 11 yrs Clinical Ed 3 yrs low C no 3. Tino M Caucasian El: 3-5 Middle 8th 9 yrs Clinical Ed 2 yrs mid B Provisional 4. Mixael M Caucasian K-6 9 yrs Clinical Ed 3 yrs high A Provisional 5. Luka F Caucasian K-4 5 yrs On-line Mentor Training 2 yrs mid A Provisional 6. Sevi F Asian/ Native American K-12 25 yrs Mentor TrainingCounseling Colorado 15 yrs mid C no The school district where the mentors are employed has established several mentoring programs to assist new teachers. Teachers who wish to become mentors are required to take a clinical educ ation class in order to be prep ared to work with beginning teachers. Information on the mentoring pr ogram is included in Appendix 1. Four participating mentors were tr ained through the clinical edu cation course offered by the
43 school district, one obtained tr aining through an on-line ment or training program, and one had received mentor tr aining and counseling courses in Co lorado. The school district also provides a mentor liaison role in each school to support all beginni ng teachers and any teacher who seeks help with school situations. The mentor liaison role facilitates communication with the school district and enab les the school district to provide training and support to all mentors. All newly hired teachers who are general educators, special education teachers, and alternative certification teachers are prov ided with mentors. The purpose of the program is to help the school district suppor t new teachers through their novice year of service so that good teachers wi ll be retained in their prof essional roles. Ultimately, the districtÂ’s goal is to strengthen the ab ilities and knowledge of all our students. Selection of Participants In selecting participants for the study, the researcher chose special education mentors at the elementary school level in the school district being st udied. Letters were sent to principals of schools representing se veral areas of the school district to request nominations of mentors who might want to participate in this study. This resulted in a list of mentors being nominated by their princi pals. The researcher then contacted each potential participant by sending a letter desc ribing the study and so liciting participation. Each potential participant was invited to participate in the st udy and was provided with a written and verbal explanation of the study. All participants signified their consent to participate in the study or decline participation by signing a form from the IRB, which defined what their responsibility was and how they would be safeguarded. All written information soliciting participation in th e study, describing the study, and allowing for
44 consent or refusal to participate is included in Appendix 2. After selection of the mentors was completed, the mentors were contacted, and appointments were set for individual interviews. Sample Size When considering the number of partic ipants to interview, Seidman (1998) suggests that there are two criteria for de termining when a researcher has conducted enough interviews. One is selecting a sufficien t number of participants Â“Â…that make up the population so that others outside the samp le might have a chance to connect to the experienceÂ….Â” (p.47). Seidman also suggest s that a researcher has interviewed enough participants when there is Â“Â…saturation of informati onÂ….Â” (p.48). While Seidman indicates that he would Â“Â…err on the side of more rather th an lessÂ….Â” (p.48), he suggests that when a researcher finds that the data have become redundant, and nothing new is being discovered, then this would be the time to sa y Â‘enoughÂ’ (Seidman, pp. 47-48). Based on SeidmanÂ’s recommendations and the re searcherÂ’s experience as a mentor, six mentors were asked to participate in the study. Qualitative Procedure Qualitative methodology was used to collect and analyze data. Creswell (1998) defines qualitative research in the following way: Qualitative research is an inquiry process of understanding based on distinct methodological traditions of inqui ry that explore a social or human problem. The researcher builds a complex, holistic picture, analyzes words, reports detailed views of in formants, and conducts the study in a natural setting (p.15).
45 In meeting the purpose of the study, the re searcher believes that building an understanding of the perspectives of mentors in the district being studied will help to create a Â‘pictureÂ’ of what mentoring has done for them and to them. The researcher believes that there is more to the proce ss of mentoring for each mentor than the perfunctory definitions commonly provided as to what a mentor is and does. SeidmanÂ’s (1998) interview framework was used to guide the data collection in answering the research questions. Seidman st ates, Â“It is hard and sometimes draining, but I have never lost the feeling th at it is a privilege to gather the stories of people through interviewing and to come to understand their experiences th rough their stories.Â” (p. xxi) Seidman points out that recounting narratives of experience has been the primary means that humans have used to make sense of th eir experience throu ghout recorded history, and he quotes Vygotsky, stating, Â“Every word th at people use in telling their stories is a microcosm of their consciousnessÂ” (Vygotsky, 1987)Â” (Seidman, 1998, p. 24). He provides further insight into his assumptions about the value of the interview process in the following statement: Interviewing provides access to the context of peopleÂ’s behavior and thereby provides a way for research ers to understand the meaning of the behavior. A basic assumption for in-d epth interviewing research is that the meaning people make of their ex perience affects the way they carry out that experience. Â….Interviewing a llows us to put behavior in context and provides access to understanding their action (p. 4). SeidmanÂ’s interview design involves a th ree-interview process and assists the researcher in organizing the information collected. This process is illustrated in Figure 2.
46 Seidman has found that separating the interv iews into three meetings allows the participant and interviewer to re flect on what was discussed. Figure 2: Design for the interview process Interview One Historical perspective Mentor Interview Two Mentor gives details of understanding of the mentor process Interview Three Mentor reflection on own meaning of mentoring Desi g n of the Interview Process
47 In the first step, Seidman advises that in terview questions should be designed to help the researcher learn the ac tual history of the person bein g interviewed. This level of the process allows the research er to build rapport with the participant and to gain an overview of the individualÂ’s experiences up to this point. The second step of the process helps to bring out the details of the individualÂ’s e xperiences as related to the research question, and the third step deal s with the reflection of what the experience means to the interviewee. The questions for the present study were organized around these guidelines. Seidman points out the delicate balance of understanding and reflection for the participant as well as the researcher. The re searcher needed to maintain sufficient focus to guide the interviews correctly. Seidman cautions about losing the focus of the three interview process, as it is very easy to stray from the intended purpose of the interview. Seidman recommends that each of the th ree interview sessions should be no more than 90 minutes long. Each session was schedul ed within three days to a week of the previous interview. While Seidman recognizes that there may be some variation in the scheduling structure due to s ituations out of the research erÂ’s control, he strongly recommends that the structure of the interv iew process be adhered to as closely as possible. Along with the concern to follow the in terview process, Seidman points out important aspects of the development of the interview questions. In his approach, the interviewer should use Â“primarily open-ende d questionsÂ” that Â“build upon and explore participantsÂ’ responses to the questions. The goal was to have the participant reconstruct his or her experience with in the topic under study,Â” (Seidman, 1998, p. 33). The
48 interview questions for this study were desi gned to help the mentors describe their perceptions of the mentoring process as related to their own experiences. In selecting SeidmanÂ’s method of inte rviewing, two questions came to mind: Â“What truths or untruths would be garnered from the answers of each participant?Â” and Â“Will others answer the selected intervie w questions as the researcher would?Â” SeidmanÂ’s interview techniques will allow for di scovery of the answers to these questions and allow for in-depth analysis of the percep tions of mentors and th e effect of mentoring on them. Following SeidmanÂ’s recommendations, partic ipants were asked questions from the interview list in th ree sessions held before or after the school day. Table 2 provides a sample of the interview schedule. The first interview aimed at understanding the mentorÂ’s personal history of mentoring. Th e purpose of the second interview was to ascertain specific details of their understandi ng of the mentoring process. In the third interview, the mentor was asked to reflect on the meaning of the mentoring process as it related to his or her own values and be liefs about the psychology of professional development. The interview process, as suggested by Seidman, is expected to be iterative, with the mentor's reflections in each session building on the previous session.
49 Table 2: Interview Schedule Interview Session I Week 1 Approx 11 1/2 hrs each Interview Session I Week 2 Approx 11 1/2 hrs each Interview Session II Week 3 Approx 11 hrs each Interview Session II Week 4 Approx 11 1/2 hrs each Interview Session III Week 5 Approx 11 1/2 hrs each Interview Session III Week 6 Approx 11 1/2 hrs each Mentor 1 C.(low) 3/3 Mentor 4 L-(mid) 3/10 Mentor 1 C. 3/8 Mentor 4 L. 3/13 Mentor 1 C. 3/11 Mentor 4 L. 3/19 Mentor 2 B. (low) 11/12 Mentor 5 M. (high) 3/7 Mentor 2 B. 2/15 Mentor 5 M. 3/13 Mentor 2 B. 2/22 Mentor 5 M. 3/19 Mentor 3 S.-(mid) 3/10 Mentor 6 T. (mid) 3/6 Mentor 3 S. 3/16 Mentor 6 T. 3/10 Mentor 3 S. 3/20 Mentor 6 T. 3/15 Interview items were drawn from severa l sources to address the primary and subordinate research questions. Informa tion found in the literature on mentors, mentoring, the affects of mentoring on the me ntee, and the perceptions of the work done by mentors were used as the basis for the interview questions. The list of interview questions is included in Appendix 3. The interview questions were also base d on the researcherÂ’s perceptions and understanding of mentoring and the mentoring process and th e level of commitment she brings to the process. From the research erÂ’s perspective, there are many levels of
50 understanding in each mentorÂ’s role as a ment or. Mentors are likely to hold different perspectives depending on the number of year s a mentor has mentored, their connection to the mentoring process and the level of co mmitment individual mentors make to this process. Data Analysis Once the interviews were conducted a nd transcribed, common themes throughout the interviews were identified, coded, categoriz ed and analyzed usi ng the text analysis software, ATLAS.ti. Use of ATLAS.ti assisted in analyses of the qualitative data that could not be properly analyzed by using statistical approaches. It allowed the researcher to draw conclusions based on the themes that are found through the analyses. In order to establish re liability of the theme identification, a second reviewer examined the transcripts to identify themes. The percent of agreement was established with a criterion of agreement at 90%. The researcher developed clear definitions and rules for coding, which are contained in Appendix 4. Then, she and another doctoral student independently coded one interview. There was 94% agreement found between the two. Pilot Study A pilot study was conducted to refine th e interview questions and method of the study. Participants were given an explanation of the three-interview process prior to the first interview. The researcher prompted with statements that explained the focus of each interview, in order to establish a comf ort level for the mentor. Seidman (1983) recommends some statements to begin the in terviews but does not advocate for a scripted interview, preferring to genera te questions from the particip antsÂ’ responses. In order to
51 conduct this study, prompts to be gin the interviews were wr itten to enco urage initial responses from the participating mentor. Th e interviews were tape recorded, with permission of the mentor being interviewed, in order to capture her or his comments accurately. Based on the information gathered and the recommendations of the research supervisors, questions and methods were revised. Data Analysis for the Pilot Responses to the interview questions were recorded on audiocassettes by the researcher. After the interview process was completed, the tapes were transcribed and typed. The researcher, the n, coded, categorized and analyz ed the information found in the three interview sessions. As the me ntor had the opportunity to reflect upon each consecutive set of questions, her responses revealed more information about where she felt she was in the mentoring process. Results of the Pilot Through the interpretation of the data collected, patterns or themes became apparent. In the pilot interview, the them es reflected many perceptions. Some of the perceptions were based on personal experien ce being mentored. Other themes were based on the respondentÂ’s perceptions of being a mentor. Some of the themes that emerged included: Mentors had a wealth of experiences. Mentors built a safe environment for a new teacher. Mentors acted in the capacity of an informal, caring relationship including emotional support. Mentors felt the role of mentor varies according to who is being mentored.
52 Mentors felt that when mentoring b ecame a challenge, one mentor was not enough. Mentors felt that often there was not enough time to meet and plan with mentee. Mentors felt that mentoring could be stressful if mentor was inundated with her own accountability to the classroom and the school. The themes identified from the pilot inte rview are consistent with the research literature. There are positive aspects of me ntoring, as well as challenges. In detailed discussions with my research supervisors, it became apparent that my interpretation of the responses to the questions reflect ed my own philosophy of mentoring. Through the interview process, the res earcher was able to determine which questions needed to be reworded and whic h were not necessary or were redundant. Based on the research supervisorsÂ’ recomm endations, the proposed set of interview questions were derived from the literature and from the researcherÂ’s experience. After completion of the first pilot, ques tions were improved and a second pilot was completed with three additional ment ors. Based on the second pilot and the recommendations of the committee, this study was limited to special education mentors at the elementary-level because of the di fferences in experience and the contextual influences on perceptions of the second group of pilot participants. Limitations of the Dissertation Study Numerous factors might have arisen that would have posed limitations to this study. One important factor was that the time required to co nduct three interviews with each mentor that may have interfered with data collection. The schedule preferences of
53 the interviewee were considered, and the mentors selected various meeting times that fit into their own schedules. The mentors were at several different school s, in various parts of the school district. Their schedules were accommodated by the re searcher; therefore, the time for scheduling was not a factor for th e mentors. One of the potential mentors felt reluctant to commit to the num ber of interview sessions and the time factor involved in the study, and he declined participation in th e study. It was important to take into consideration the wishes of the interviewee, as to the prescribed amount of time to interview (according to Seidman), without inte rfering with the coll ection of data. Each interview was conducted with sufficient time between sessions to allow the interviewee to reflect on the previous inte rview. Also, it was important to consider the place where an interview was conducted. While the interv iewee may have selected a public/neutral place to be interviewed, it was very important to consider the quali ty of the interview being taped. Therefore, the researcher advi sed the mentor that the meeting place needed to be one where there would be no interferen ce and that it was a quiet area in which to speak. Three interviews were conducted in the mentorsÂ’ classrooms; two were conducted in a conference room of a library and one was conducted in a private office. All interviews were conducted in an area that allowed the researcher to take clear, wellunderstood recordings of each mentorÂ’s comments. While the information gathered may contri bute to the literature on the affects of mentoring on the mentors, the results apply onl y to the teachers who were interviewed in this study. With an understanding of the char acteristics, age, y ears teaching, and selfesteem of the individuals being interviewed, the reader will have to form an opinion according to their own situation.
54 Another limitation taken into considerati on was the researcherÂ’s own experiences as a mentor. Based on the experience in the pilot study, it became clear that the researcher needed to be sensitive to the in fluence of her own view of mentoring on the kinds of questions she asked and the ma nner in which she asked them. This was especially true when the inte rviewee had a view of mentori ng that was different than the researcherÂ’s view. The researcher sought to address this by keeping a parallel record of her own thoughts about the interviews, and writing them in a journal log after each interview. This journal record was useful in the interpretation and discussion of the interview data. Another source of concern in the intervie weeÂ’s responses to questions was his/her professional relationship with the research er. The interviewee may have responded in terms of what he/she thought the researcher wanted to hear. The researcher sought to address this, if it became a concern, by reassu ring the interviewee th at the focus of the research was on the intervieweeÂ’s beliefs about mentoring and that there was no need for responding in a way that the re searcher or anyone else w ould respond. While this would not prevent a bias in the in tervieweeÂ’s responses, it created a context within which the issue would have been discussed and taken into consideration in the interpretation of the data. This did not become a concern since th e researcher selected individuals who were not familiar with the study or the researcherÂ’s interest in the subject. The mentors have been in the field of Sp ecial Education as teachers from 5 to 25 years and served as mentors from 2 to 15 y ears. Three of the mentors had two years experience mentoring which limits the inte rpretation of the findings related to the developmental process of mentoring.
55 Chapter 4 Results The intent of this study was to examine the effects of mentoring on the mentor. This study has been conducted to help discov er the insights and perspectives of the mentors interviewed. The purpose of the study wa s (a) to address the gap in the literature by exploring the effects of mentoring on the me ntor, and (b) to inform the mentor training process. This chapter summarizes the results and analysis of the da ta collected through the 3-interview study. The research questions posed in the study were as follows: 1. In what ways do mentors undergo a discernable developmental process based on experience in mentoring other teachers? 2. How does mentoring affect the ment orÂ’s perception of job satisfaction, sense of efficacy, and commitment to the education profession? 3. How does mentoring affect the mentorsÂ’ perception of their own teaching and sense of professionalism in their own classroom? 4. What contexts and supports do me ntors see as most important to successful mentoring? 5. Does mentoring affect the mentor beliefs and/or values? In order to answer the questions abov e, six individuals, who were currently mentors in elementary special education, were interviewed. The da ta were analyzed by identifying common themes from each of th e three interviews with each of the six
56 participants. The following provides an analysis of the themes that emerged in response to each of the research questions. 1. In what ways do mentors undergo a dis cernable developmental process based on experience in mentoring other teachers? The mentorsÂ’ responses reveal understanding of their own growth as a mentor and where they see themselves in the developm ental process of mentoring. There were several areas that the mentors viewed or recognized as grow th in their own role as a teacher, mentor, or colleague, which may have resulted from the process of mentoring and working with mentees. The mentors felt they benefited and learned through their interactions with their mentees. They strive d to help the new teacher fit into their new school environment, they helped with stra tegies necessary to develop good classroom skills and they worked on help ing their mentees progress as competent educators. For some mentors, mentoring has helped them r ealize their own streng ths and has produced a sense of personal and professional empowerment. One of the mentors, Barbara, a sixteen year veteran teacher who has taught children in special education throughout her career, revealed her own understanding of development: I see myself as very accomplished. IÂ’ve been an ESE teacher for my entire career. I taugh t emotionally handicapped children prior to my current position, so I certainly knew what it was like and what had to be done. I would say I felt very accomp lished in showing how to teach to someone else. It was felt that mentoring helped the mentors understand their own desire to do well and help others. The desire to he lp new teachers acclimate to their new
57 environment seems to be very important to the mentors in the study. Luka, a special education teacher with 2.5 years experience as a mentor, views her progress in her desire to do more for the new teacher, and most im portantly, for the students, who ultimately benefit from the growing expertise of the new teacher: I think I realize more what else n eeds to be accomplished. I know that they give us the traini ng and provide us with th e ESE mentor manual to go by for setting it up. But as I find things, I make my own timeline of things like, not addressing any of the IEP n eeds until it arises or not addressing any of the testing until it arises; to prioritize what goes on. Luka was not alone in her desire to help the novice teacher. The reflections of another mentor also emphasize th e desire to help others. IÂ’d like to be a part of getting pe ople to do it and helping them to do something more than what they do. I think there is a gi ant need with all the new teachers coming in. They need more help than they are getting. The desire to help the new teacher rings through many of the comments and reflections of the mentors in this study. Ch ristina, a mentor who has taught for 11 years and mentored for 3, explains: I guess that whole wanting to help, you know, you donÂ’t only want to help the kids then you want to help the teac hers and so I think that if anything that was probably it. Along with his desire to help new teachers Mixael offers his own ideas about his values and beliefs in his perspec tive of helping the beginning teacher:
58 ItÂ’s probably reinforced a lot of t hose values about helping others the professional development of others a nd really itÂ’s all about helping the kids if youÂ’re helping teachers do bett er, then, hopefully the kids are doing better. Mixael came from a long history of helpi ng as an informal mentor in his years prior to becoming a teacher. He mentor ed many young people in his position as counselor for the YMCA. This seemed to have given him a clear sense of how he developed as a mentor. In the following comment he addresses his understanding of where he sees himself on the contin uum of development as a mentor: I think in a way, itÂ’s always going to be the beginning stages cause youÂ’re always leaning new things, new techni ques. ThereÂ’s always new issues coming up to help you improve; but intermediate in the sense that IÂ’ve learned from my mistakes. IÂ’ve lear ned from my mistakes. IÂ’ve learned from seeing how different people react to different things and from being around other mentors, too. So probably IÂ’m in the intermediate stage and probably be there for the rest of th e time because I donÂ’t think you could master it. YouÂ’re always going to be like I said. Learning things and trying to come up with new things and pe rfect it and do a li ttle better than last year. Others are just coming to the realizati on that they have grown in their own professional development. Barbara rec ognized who she was and how she has grown through responding to the questions in the interview. She states,
59 Mentoring has made me realize how much I have learned over the past nine years and it takes so much time to learn all that and I mean whatever it is even if itÂ’s a way to not be con frontational with a parent like not be pulled into it like sit there and le t them vent you know like thatÂ’s something you learn with experience. No one can teach you that. You experience. I think mentoring in my life made me realize how important I could be to someone else w ho is just starting out. When the mentors were asked where they saw themselves in the developmental process Luka shared that she viewed hers elf as being at the beginning of her own developmental continuum: I see myself continuing on, taking more classes in more of the subject areas so I can provide more guidance. While Luka, who has been teaching for 5 year s, felt she is just at the beginning of her experiences and expertise as a mentor, Ti no, who has been teaching for 9 years felt it was an ongoing process: You learn something all the time, so youÂ’re never at the end of it. Then, there are those mentors who feel they are in the Â‘twilightÂ’ of their mentoring time. Sevi, a lady of Asian and Nativ e American culture, has been an educator for more than 25 years and a mentor for 15 years. She was very articulate in her evaluation as to where she finds herself on the developmental continuum. Well, in my teaching, IÂ’m on the downw ard swing. So, I would think itÂ’s in that area. It goes more downwar d. I donÂ’t think that IÂ’m tired of
60 doing it. IÂ’m always willing to help somebody to help them. It doesnÂ’t matter if IÂ’m paid or not paid. That Â’s not even the issu e of it, you know? Other than that, I donÂ’t know. I donÂ’t think youÂ’re ever at full capacity cause I think youÂ’re always willing to learn some more. But with all my yearsÂ’ experience, IÂ’m hoping that IÂ’m higher than most people. IÂ’m up there, you know. So IÂ’ve had lots of experiences. The mentor perceived her growth as being a part of her experi ences and her desire to continue learning more, even though she fe lt her time to mentor was coming close to the end of her mentoring career. While Sevi felt she had finished most of her career as a mentor, Tino shared his desire to continue to gr ow through mentoring: I think itÂ’s just an ongoing process. I donÂ’t think youÂ’re ever are full capacity, because I think you Â’re always learning. Through mentoring and their own experiences as mentors, these individuals see themselves in a continuing role. Barbar a, who has taught for 16 years, explains: You become more professional because you have to show someone exactly how things areÂ…by the book. One mentor drew his feelings about his own developmental growth as a mentor from his own life experiences. Tino, who sp ent his youth working for the railroad, relates: The idea of being exact in what I want comes from my jobs that IÂ’ve had and I was a production manager and we worked every thing from single
61 family homes to high risers, I did have time for mistakes. So, when I started doing this, it was just a matter of developing the knowledge to doing the same thing. I donÂ’t want my mi stakes to hurt one of these kids. So IÂ’m very careful that way and thatÂ’s how I developed my present perspective of what IÂ’m doing. Actu ally itÂ’s changed; IÂ’ve got some different ideas of what I want to doÂ…. The understanding of the developmental pr ocess for this mentor has become a component of how and why he mentors. He added more to his reflections in the following comments: So yeah, I think it has developed if nothi ng else then just the fact that itÂ’s just official at one point Not that you donÂ’t want to help the other people, but I think thatÂ’s more casual. Y ou help when you can, especially if thereÂ’s an issue with a kid that youÂ’re working with in your class or if there is something dealing with mayb e the bigger pictureÂ…Â… But as a mentor-mentee situation, you have that where they know they can come to you and that youÂ’re going to go to them and check on them. The desire to continuously help, whether as a formal or informal mentor, is evident in the reflecti on of this mentor. Sevi did not feel that mentoring had been the reason for her developmental progress, but an element of it: Yeah. I think itÂ’s almost like itÂ’s not necessarily because of the mentoring because that happens in small increm ents of time, but you definitely see
62 people coming along. You know from point A to point B. A lot of it is stuff thatÂ’s incidental that you that you pick up along the way. I mean it takes experience. It takes going out and doing it and being around it and being a part of it. Although Sevi did not feel mentoring wa s instrumental in her developmental process, she did feel it added to her experiences as a mentor. The responses to the ques tion above by the mentors interviewed had a common theme in that the mentors continuously men tioned their desire a nd willingness to help those mentees who are new to their school. This desire to help aide d the mentee, but was beneficial to the mentor in the context of their own understanding of their individual developmental process as a mentor. Their de sire and ability to help the mentee made them realize who they are as mentors and how they have grown in their own personal abilities as a mentor and as a teacher. Th is is best explained by the following comments shared by Christina, an 11 year veteran educator: Through mentoring you evaluate yourself. ItÂ’s part of it. You are able to look at other people and help them. Then, you take back what you learned from them, how you helped them and that can only help you be better. While some mentors may not have a fu ll understanding of wher e they are on the continuum of their developmental process, it is apparent that they recognize mentoring as a process that has aide d their own growth.
63 2. How does mentoring affect the mentorÂ’s perception of job sa tisfaction, sense of efficacy, and commitment to the education profession? This question allowed mentors to addr ess their own understanding of (a) job satisfaction, (b) their own self-worth as a mentor and (c) their commitment to the education profession. Responses to question two are organized by these three issues. Job satisfaction is an importa nt aspect of the mentorÂ’s school life. If there are concerns as to the environment in which the me ntor teaches or if th ere is a concern about administrative support, this may greatly affect th e ability of the mento rÂ’s effectiveness. This is also the case in how the mentor perceives their role in the school and how they see themselves, which can determine thei r perception of self-wor th. Is the school supportive enough to allow the mentor to feel as though they make a difference in their classroom, amongst colleagues and in the profe ssional development of their school? Is there an understanding of thei r accomplishments and do they feel an important part of their school? The environment of a school play s an important role in the self-worth of a teacher. If the teacher feels welcomed and a part of the school community, the teacher may be greatly benefited. If the environm ent of the school is unwelcoming, this may become a hindrance in the overall success of the novice and veteran teacher. Another important aspect of the mentorÂ’s perspective and their role at their school is how they view and handle their commitment to education and their own profession. Is there a commitment to enhance their own prof essional development? The investment into the school and the classroom may help the teacher continue to enhance teaching skills
64 and benefit the students who are the recipients of these skills. The mentor responses to this question were varied: (a) Pertaining to job satisfaction: Barbara, who teaches in a low socioeconomic school, felt mentoring has allowed for job satisfaction. She states: Yes. I think that people would thi nk that if you were a mentor, that you were somewhat accomplished in what youÂ’re doing to be asked to be mentor. I can only say I enjoy being with this young lady and helping her. But I was just as satisfied before I was mentoring. Christina, who feels mentees need to be helped as soon as they are hired into the school, spoke of her own satisfa ction in her chosen career an d the effect mentoring plays on her job: I think it helps because you are help ing other people to do a good job, too. Helps make the school a better place, because if people are comfortable and know each other and feel good about the job theyÂ’re doing, it makes it a nicer place to work in. If itÂ’s in your team, it helps make things run more smoothly. So I think it justÂ…e verybodyÂ’s happy and I love it when everyoneÂ’s happy. Mixael views mentoring as a part of the c ontinued desire to help his colleagues. His response points to his pers pective that if ev eryone works together, everyone will be successful, the school will prosper and most importantly, the children will benefit the most. Below, he reveals his thoughts:
65 From my stand point, I think it gives you one more thing that you can feel good about. That youÂ’re helping peopl e, which is why youÂ’re probably in the job, in the first placeÂ…, is to he lp kids. I think you realize after a couple of years of helping kids you also have to help other teachers and other professionals do what theyÂ’re do ing. You donÂ’t just survive in a box all by yourself. ItÂ’s a team effort even if youÂ’re in a self-contained class. Or people that care about the kids and you have to deal with them, too. So I think itÂ’s definitely been rewarding in a lot of ways and it keeps you motivated. It keeps you interested in the little things and keeps you on task a little more. I think on some of the more mundane things that you might let slip if you werenÂ’t mentoring somebody. Tino, who takes a very practical view of the effects of mentoring on job satisfaction, explains: I think to some extent there is. Like I said, some of it can be aggravating, but I think in the end, after it is done sure. I think when you look back you think, Â“OK! This is a positive thi ng.Â” I donÂ’t know. I donÂ’t think that much. I was pretty satisfied before, before doing it, because I like what IÂ’m doing. I like working w ith these kids, especially at this level. If anything, it has a positive impact ju st because it makes it more fun. Sevi also takes a practical view of job sa tisfaction and the effects of mentoring, as well as the frustrations that she experiences when she does not see progress in the mentee. She shares her views very succinctly:
66 It doesnÂ’t add to my job and it doe snÂ’t subtract from my job. ItÂ’s rewarding. ItÂ’s great to help other people...to help other teachers who are starting out. When I thin k IÂ’m very effective, when I can be effective, I think itÂ’s very rewarding. When I f eel like IÂ’ve gone in circles and the persons I have mentored do not realize that I have gone in circles and I am doing the same thing over again and theyÂ’re not moving forward, then, I guess this wasnÂ’t funÂ…. I donÂ’t try just one way I try many ways just like teaching methods if one thing doesnÂ’t work for the kids. You just keep pulling those tricks out till you go, Â“This is where I need to be!Â” Yeah, I find it really satisfying, because I feel like I know whatÂ’s going on in the other classrooms around me than just my own. Sometimes I feel like, I wonder if anyone else is seeing the same thing. You donÂ’t really know until you talk it over. Luka, who teaches children with special needs in a mid socioeconomic school, enjoys the feeling that she is an important stakeh older in her school environment and that she is viewed in a positive way. Her job sati sfaction due to mentoring comes from this positive perspective. She explains: I feel like I have more of a pres ence on the school campus. Not that I didnÂ’t already but it kind of gives you thatÂ…somebody is looking up to you type of thing other than the child ren youÂ’re with all day long with the runny noses. But I think it gives you that presenceÂ…I feel like IÂ’m more needed to be there. Not that I ever didnÂ’t feel like I was needed to be there
67 but being a mentor gives you that extr a. Somebody else is listening to you. Mixael, who is working on becoming an ad ministrator for the school district in which he works, also finds that mentoring ha s had a positive effect on his job satisfaction. This behavioral specialist shares his poi nt of view in the following statement: I think itÂ’s a positive (mentoring). IÂ’ve always thought about wanting to do more, as far as being a teacher lead er type of person so I think that gives me a little more satisfaction, ju st knowing that IÂ’m there to help people, not just with the kids but also the adults. IÂ’m sure IÂ’d feel the same way, maybe even more than if I was just teaching because youÂ’re in a classroom. You tend to have less effect over the whole campus. You have just your one class, which is good in a way, but you know it probably helped me and I donÂ’t think I ever mentioned it to anybody. When I was teaching officially (in his own cla ssroom). It was when I became a behavior specialist a second time, I be gan to think it would be even more rewarding then because you would ha ve less impact on the campus. So you want to have those people (men tees) where at least, you know you have some impact on a couple of people. Mixael is a soft spoken educator, who t eaches in a high socioeconomic school. He speaks articulately about his views and the importance of helping others. He derives satisfaction from his ability to work in a position that allows him access to many of his colleagues. He reveals his views in the following:
68 From my stand point, I think it give s you one more thing that you can feel good about, that youÂ’re helping people. Which is why youÂ’re probably in the job in the first place; to help ki ds and I think you re alize after a couple of years of helping kids, you also have to help other teachers and other professionals do what theyÂ’re doing. You donÂ’t just survive in a box all by yourself. ItÂ’s a team effort even if youÂ’re in a self-contained class. Or people that care about the kids and you have to deal with them, too. So, I think itÂ’s definitely been rewardi ng in a lot of wa ys and it keeps you motivated. It keeps you interested in the little things and keeps you on task a little more. I think on some of the more mundane things that you might let slip if you werenÂ’t mentoring somebody. The preceding interview findings are consistent with previously mentioned research. Job satisfaction is an important component in the mentoring process. Mentoring contributes to the development of professional expertise. It facilitates team building and cross training, and enhances job satisfaction (Peterson & Provo, 1998). Further, as Stalker (1994) and others ha ve suggested, mentoring holds promise for promoting structural change and more e quitable opportunities in our institutions, agencies, and organizations (Cohen & Galb raith 1995; Daloz 1999; Daresh 2001). Thus, mentoring may provide significant developmen tal assistance to both the mentor and protg, while benefiting a learning society as well. (b) Pertaining to self-worth as a mentor: While much of a mentorÂ’s role deals with enhancing the self-worth of the mentee, it is important that the mentor also experiences success in the role th ey play, in order to
69 feel as though they are perceived in a positive li ght. This perception of self-worth adds to their feeling of success and allows them to continue working with mentees and satisfactorily in their school environmen t. Many comments made by the mentors interviewed in this study relate this perception very well. Barbara, who feels it is very important to advocate for her mentees in her role as mentor, expl ains her perceptions: I feel very worthwhile that someone would ask me to do it. And I think it is a compliment if someone asks you. It feels that you are that capable that youÂ’d be able to instruct someone else. I was very flattered that they finally came and asked me, because I was really annoyed at some point that I went and did this and everybody else in creation seems to be chosen or asked to be a mentor and I wasnÂ’t I understood logi cally why but IÂ’m like Â‘I donÂ’t know. I could have still been a mentor, I guess to an ESE teacher, even though it wasnÂ’t the same exact thing. Christina also feels it is im portant to feel as though sh e plays an important role: I think it helps that because you donÂ’t al ways getÂ….I mean you get that to a certain extent being a teacher, but sometimes you have to give it to yourself. People arenÂ’t always ar ound saying, Â“Wow! What a good job you did!Â” So, if you are with anot her person and you see that you are really helping them, and IÂ’m sure th ey thank you, whatever. It makes you feel good that you are helping someone else, because thatÂ’s pretty much why you became a teacher.
70 During her interviews, Christina voiced many concerns about the mentor training process in the school district and had many id eas to help the school district enhance the program and to help it be even more successful. (c) Pertaining to their commitment to the education profession: The mentors interviewed for this study were all very committed to education and to the betterment of their schools. Their desire to help the novice teacher become a proficient teacher was evident throughout each interview session. Their commitment reached to every aspect of their lives as e ducators and they were proud to further their education to help enhance their abilities as me ntors. They perceived this commitment as an investment to education. Barbara, w ho viewed her opportunity to mentor as a privilege, was very proud to reveal: IÂ’ve invested personally a lot into the education field. I have two Masters Â–one that IÂ’m not even using. Compar ed to other things IÂ’ve done, I donÂ’t think this was a huge investment. As far as continuing on with it? I think I would take more (mentees). I think you can only do one (mentees) though at a time. Last year, I did two (mentees) and it was a little rough because youÂ’re pulled in so many directions. But I see myself as continuing on, taking more classes in more of the subject areas so I can provide more guidance like if IÂ…like th is year might be the primary where we might get a new position next year We might get a different ESE person in our community. Luka, who is relatively new to mentoring, f eels it is important to continue to take classes, therefore increasing he r educational background. She be lieves it is necessary to
71 take classes and be involved in the learning environment of her school, which received an A in the FCAT testing this year. She feels the universities need to do a better job of preparing students to become teachers. She wants the university to prepare people more efficiently to come into the field. She re lates her concern about the new teachers she works with and sees: They donÂ’t know what special education is about. They come in and donÂ’t like it and they leave-they leave a big gap, too. She feels it is important to continue in her own educational skills and emphasizes the need for teachers to continue learning for the sake of their students. LukaÂ’s affect is gentle, and calm but firm. She refers to he r students a Â‘pumpkinsÂ’ and Â‘my babiesÂ’. She strives to do the best she can for her mentees as well as for her students. It is easy to know where she stands: I continue on. IÂ’m taking two classes now and itÂ’s killing me. IÂ’ve always got the need to find something else. I think thereÂ’s more out there and the more I find out the more I can bridge that gap between my pumpkins and where they should be. All the mentors interviewed spoke highly of the need to be committed to the field of education and specifically, special education. One ment or spoke of the need for accountability on the part of mentors and felt th at his willingness to commit fully to the field by continuing in his educat ion. Mixael, who is very kno wledgeable as a behavioral specialist, is a mentor who works hard to stay on top of his field and watches out for his mentees and colleagues. He is willing to he lp all who need it. He is a gentleman and
72 makes sure he is meeting with mentees. If he feels he doesnÂ’t know something the mentee ask, he delves into the subject or s ituation until he finds the answer. He feels very responsible for his mentees-past and present and believes in the accountability necessary to be an efficient mentor. His goals for the future as an educator are to always remain a mentor and to work with student s with special needs as well as with his colleagues, who teach students with special needs. Much can be seen and understood about this strong advocate for special educa tion through the comments he shared in his interview: I think you always want to learn mo re, too and if something comes up and itÂ’s new you donÂ’t just want to just kind of be the last one to find out about such a thing. You want to go out there and actively engage yourself on how to improve certain areas. I donÂ’t know if mentoring has changed it a lot. Like I said, itÂ’s kind of that desire (commitment) to do it just because you know it seemed like the right thing to do. It seems like, why wouldnÂ’t you want to help the people that are helping the kids and especially, when you are working on a team. You know when you have kids like with autism in there, generally, going from one class to the next, you know at least the majority of the kids w ould go from pre-k to primary to intermediate. So, itÂ’s lik e youÂ’re the extended family type of thing. So itÂ’s always something I want to do. So, I think it may have helped it by not hurting it. You know what I mean? If I hadnÂ’t done that, (become a mentor) maybe IÂ’d be less inclined to be still committed the way I am. How itÂ’s helped I think itÂ’s probably the biggest Â‘ahaÂ’! I just thought of
73 that. If nothing else, it probably keeps the fire stoked, at least a little bit, because it gives you more buy in. It gives you more something to think about, thatÂ’s more helpful, and that you know is positive. They might not always know it, but I think you know that itÂ’s really helping (mentoring). So you know I donÂ’t think IÂ’d be out of education if it wasnÂ’t (helping), but maybe itÂ’s keeping kind of the fires alive a little bit more than you think about. Yeah and it gives you more of a reason to go the extra mile and stay involved and to keep ev erything going in the right direction. As each mentor spoke, during the interview process, it became evident that there was a strong sense of self-worth in the commen ts that they made. It became apparent to the interviewer that the mentors had selected to become a part of the study in order to give voice to their views, commitment to education and concerns about mentoring and the mentoring process. Each offered s uggestions in how the school district might improve upon the training for mentors, support for the mentees and ways to help retain teachers in the schools. Even though some spoke of how difficult it can be to be a mentor, all the mentors spoke of continuing to mentor. They view mentoring to be a positive vehicle to help new teachers, but th ey also felt they benefited from being a mentor. 3. How does mentoring affect the mento rsÂ’ perceptions of their own teaching and sense of professionalism in their own classroom? Throughout many of the interviews, the ment ors readily spoke of their desire to help the new mentees in their transition from college student in th e teacher preparation classes, to the new teacher in a Â‘realÂ’ cl assroom in charge of the education of young
74 students. Throughout this transition process, the mentor guides, teaches, and supports the mentee, as well as serves as a sounding board The mentor is there to help the mentee acclimate to the school environment and introduces him or her to new ideas and methods of teaching. The mentor is able to help the new teacher grow and gain practical knowledge to use in the classroom. This expe rience helps mentors polish their own skills and abilities. The mentor teacher is viewed as supportive, professional and a teacher leader. He or she is expected to model and teach the me ntee skills that will help enhance educational proficiency. When mentors work with th e mentees and offer their expertise and constructive feedback, it is e xpected that the mentee will be able to incorporate this learning into the classroom. The mentors also offer the s upport and advocacy the mentee need to ease through their difficult tr ansitional first year of teaching. However, as Zachary (2000) reminds us Â“TodayÂ’s mentor is hardly the allknowing source of wisdom that dispenses know ledge, hands out truths and protects and guards. Rather, todayÂ’s mentor is a f acilitative partner in an evolving learning relationship focused on meeting mentee goals and objectivesÂ” (p.161). The successful mentor teacher is one who realizes that cont inuous education is necessary to help the mentors enhance their own proficiency and skills as the teacher in their own classroom. In his interview, Mixael explai ns his understanding of the need to continue training as an educator: I think so. I think it makes me defin itely want to keep abreast of anything that might be new or different. I mean I would like to think that I would do that anyway, but thereÂ’s always that in the back of you mind where youÂ’re
75 responsible for other people. So it probably does encourage you to do some more of that. He also finds that mentoring has allowed for an understanding of advocacy and the need to support the me ntee. Mixael states: (Mentoring) has prompted me to advocate for educational values and conditions; values and conditions of schools, education and schooling. I think itÂ’s a positive. I mean, IÂ’ve always, like I said, IÂ’ve always thought about wanting to do more as far as being a teacher leader type of person, so I think that gives me a little more satisfacti on, just knowing that IÂ’m there to help people, not just with th e kids, but also the teaching. You get at chance to work with so many more a dults that are interested in the same things as you and you get to help them. Mixael, who began his informal mentoring as a counselor at the YMCA, feels that all teachers, parents and students need a mentor He feels he has benefited from being a mentor and not only working with his mentee, but with colleagues, students and their parents. He reveals his view of the e ffect of mentoring on his own teaching and professionalism in the following passage: I think itÂ’s made me a l ittle bit more into the de tails on a day to day, as opposed to maybe coming in some days when you donÂ’t really feel like being there and you kind of just do what youÂ’ve got to do, just to get through the day. Having that extra little bit kind of helps out. I think in little ways, it maybe keeps you focused on a lot of the details. Maybe not on a daily basis, but I think there are times when you stay more focused
76 and you stay more involved in whatÂ’s going on around. Just because you know youÂ’re responsible to get that information to other people. Kind of like being a team leader or some ot her responsible person. Where youÂ’re not only responsible for yourself. Y ou have to see things when you need to. If youÂ’re dealing with other people you need to talk to them in a timely fashion, because you might not get the chance again. Some mentors felt their desire to continue adding to their own teaching skills was just a part of their own need to go on l earning and to enhance their own professional repertoire. Luka, who as a younger teacher f eels it is important to keep training, bases her desire to take more classes on the need to learn more. While she wasnÂ’t sure this was due to her role as a mentor, she did feel that mentoring has given her an awareness: IÂ’m seeking reading endorsement ri ght now, but I donÂ’t think thatÂ’s because of the mentoring. I just alwa ys am reading and always wanting to do something else. I think that the mentoring has made me more vocal towards things. I tend not to sit and observe as much. I tend to express my opinion on how I think certain th ingsÂ…I donÂ’t know if thatÂ’s from mentoring though. It probably is but I donÂ’t know. ItÂ’s hard to say. Luka also spoke of her abili ty to recognize her professi onalism through her role as mentor: I think IÂ’m more conscious of what I do in the classroom. Just little things like making sure that I am continually monitoring their progress so that they can be mainstreamed, there out there. Testing, more option, keeping track of their work a little better so that I can pull work samples easier. I
77 think just being organized overall writing things down as opposed to trying to remember it all. ItÂ’s a little easier. LukaÂ’s role as mentor made her feel more accountable to her mentee: When it was just me I could kind of get by but now thereÂ’s me and someone else. On the other hand, Barbara, a veteran teacher, who feels she needs to continue to grow in her own teaching stra tegies, related that doing so would benefit her and her mentee: Yes, I do, because the best way to learn something or review something is to teach it. And I would remind myself of things as I was showing her. And it just made me feel good to be able to be there for her. Barbara was a very reflective mentor a nd enjoyed discussing mentoring. She felt one of her roles was to be a sounding board for her new mentee. She feels that she is perceived as knowledgeable in her field of Special Education and feels honored to have been selected to mentor at her school. She is very serious about her role as a mentor and speaks of her responsibil ity toward the mentee: Well, I think you want to make sure that you show her everything in exactly the way itÂ’s supposed to be Cross your tÂ’s and dot your iÂ’s because you want to show her the rightÂ…how do things properly. WhatÂ’s expected. You become more professional because you have to show someone exactly how things are Â– by the book. To put terminology (on IEP)Â…Â’the student willÂ…and makes it m easurableÂ’. Criteria Â– 8 out of 10 times.
78 This very compassionate mentor, who wa s not mentored herself, as she was beginning her career, spoke ofte n of how she tries to watch out for others who may need help. Barbara also emphas ized the fact that she had become a stronger, more professional educator due to mentoring. The best way to learn something or revi ew something is to teach it. And I would remind myself of things as I wa s showing her. And it just made me feel good to be able to be there for her. Another mentor spoke strongly about her concerns about the mentoring program in the school district and felt mentoring played a large role in the experiences of both the mentor and the mentee. Christina, who had many suggestions for the school district, spoke caringly about her mentoring role: I think it makes you think more about your teaching so then whenever you think more about it, hopefully youÂ’ll do more. Whatever youÂ’re telling the new person, it brings it back to am I doing what I told her she should be doing? I think it may help organize me more because I have to help them do that. So then IÂ’ll do that. And you have to be able to spend time with them. I think, yeah, it makes you th ink about your teaching more and probably any time you do that youÂ’re better at it. Although Christina has been teaching el even years, she felt that mentoring expanded her teaching abilities: I think you just think about how to do things better or if youÂ’re helping them come up with ideas or somethi ng then maybe itÂ’s an idea you could use. So I think itÂ’s mostly positive.
79 Christina also discussed the fact that me ntoring a new teacher gave her awareness in how she may be perceived and, therefore, helped her polish her own strategies as a teacher and mentor: I think sometimes when youÂ…maybe when you hear other peopleÂ…I know that I do that and itÂ’s not on ly with people I mentor but people around the schoolÂ…when you hear them speak to the kids and then you think to yourself, Â“Oh my gosh, do I sound like that?Â” You know those kinds of things that you donÂ’t even reali ze. I think if anything, instead of just doing stuff, you think more about it. Reflect more about it and think, Â“Gosh, I didnÂ’t sound that way today, did I?Â” So if youÂ’re helping someone else to try and keep positiv e and deal with situations, hopefully, you are helping yourself to continue to do that, too. So if anything I think it just makes your behaviorÂ…again, you think about it. IÂ’m telling her to do this, am I doing this? I need to keep doing this, too and not just get into aÂ… Practice what you preach. An awareness. Christina mentioned one way she fe lt mentors could expand on their mentoring and professionalism: Organize yourself so that if you are going to do this, you have to find the time to help them because theyÂ’re going to need you. So get your stuff together. Find out what they need. Whether theyÂ’ll tell you or not, is not always the case. You know, they may be afraid. So find a way to figure out what they need and give them that.
80 Christina, a very knowledgeable and con cerned advocate for mentoring explained how she felt mentoring has benefited her: I think it showed me how many diffe rent types ofÂ… not people, butÂ…. you know, different things that youÂ’re goi ng to go learn about. You know that they are dealing with all these di fferent situations that I really have never dealt with. During each successive interview, Christina revealed that she had the chance to reflect on the previous interv iew and discussion. She divul ged that this gave her the opportunity to reflect upon her own mentoring and its effect on her own teaching abilities and her experiences as a mentor. She viewed these experiences as positive contributions to her growth as a teacher and mentor: I think it makes you think more about your teaching, so then whenever you think more about it, hopefully youÂ’ll do more. Whatever youÂ’re telling the new person, it brings it ba ck to, Â“Am I doing what I told her she should be doing?Â” I think it ma y help organize me more because I have to help them do that. So then IÂ’ll do that. You have to be able to spend time with them. So then you canÂ’t get something done that you need to get done. I th ink, yeah, it makes you think about your teaching more and probably anytime you do that youÂ’ re better at it. I think you just think about how to do things better or if youÂ’re helping them come up with ideas or something then maybe itÂ’s an idea you could use. So I think itÂ’s mostly positive. ItÂ’s fun when you hear them come up with something to go back and use it, too. Anothe r tool. And thatÂ’s fun.
81 Some of the mentors did not feel mentor ing was the only aspect of their teaching career that allowed them to grow in their professionalism as teachers. Sevi, who has taught for thirty years, has had many experien ces in her life that sh e feels also added to her professionalism. She parallels her role as a military wife to her role as a mentor, since she acted as an informal mentor to many. Her understanding of her growing professionalism brings those aspects of her life to her classroom and mentoring: I mean I try to always be professiona l. When you mentor you have to have just be a little bit more of the protocol you know you have to be careful. I think itÂ’s helped me see other persp ectives even as experienced as I am, sometimes I still pickup on something that I go, Â“Wow, thatÂ’s really good. I should use that!Â” So, y ou know, it helps me not to also be so closed minded. That one way is the only way you can do something. IÂ’ve always been flexible because of the military and weÂ’ve always had to move, so flexibility is one of those things thatÂ’s a ch aracteristic of being in the military. When asked if mentoring had changed he r behavior as a teacher, Sevi spoke on her thoughts and reflections: Gee, I hadnÂ’t thought about that one! I think it helps me probably to be open to things. You know, I canÂ’t say it changed my behavior from a positive to a negative or a negative to a positive. Maybe in the way IÂ’ve approached something could be a li ttle bit different. Depending on if I think that would really work in my classroom, which the mentee has shown me or just because I observe them or theyÂ’re sharing with me. So I
82 think that has helped me as a teacher. ItÂ’s helped me grow because I still pick up on things and each person is different that you mentor. Hopefully, you learn from everybody. Tino, a gentleman who teaches in a mid-so cioeconomic school and has taught for nine years, also credits his pr ofessionalism to other experien ces in his life, along with his teaching experiences. He is well respected by his peers and administrators and enjoys the fact that he is c onsidered highly respect ed in his school. He is quick to speak his opinion and discussed the necessity for ment ors in the school setting to help new teachers. In the following comments he speak s of his willingness to continue working as a mentor throughout his interview sessions. He speaks of this in the following passage: In all honesty, probably just likeÂ… I have certain principles and philosophies on how these kids need or can learn or the hierarchy of what I think is important for them. IÂ’ve done a lot of research and reading on it, so I feel like I am correct and I want to be able to let somebody else know, Â“Look, this is what I do and this really works. You need to do this and try it.Â” I feel like everything I do alwa ys makes meÂ…each year I feel like, wow, I learned something again. You never know it all, you never will and no one will. So yeah, I think. You get a different perspective from someone when youÂ’re working with them every day. You pick things up from other people that they donÂ’t ev en know theyÂ’re passing on to you. You learn something all the time, so youÂ’re never at the end of it. If I took and intern or a mentee for the next 10 years in a row itÂ’d beÂ…IÂ’d still be, IÂ’m sure, I could do this better or I should have been doing this all this
83 time. ThereÂ’s always going to be something that youÂ’re going to pick up on. I donÂ’t care what it is. I donÂ’t care how small or major it is. So I donÂ’t know that there isÂ…that you could place a timeline on it until maybe I retire and then I could tell you what I felt like at the end. Because I think itÂ’s just an ongoing process. In summary, all of the mentors in this study felt they learned and continued to learn from their experiences as mentors. Some reflected upon their life experiences as well and related how these life experiences gave them a fuller perspective as to who they were as teachers and mentors. All the mentors credited thei r ability to work with new teachers as a benefit to their own teaching and their growth as professionals. Mentoring helped to establish each of them in th eir school environment as knowledgeable, professional and advocates for teaching and for new teachers. They each perceived themselves as strong teachers and well-resp ected by administrators and colleagues. 4. What contexts and supports do mentors s ee as most important to successful mentoring? In mentoring, many things are important wh en working with a new teacher, some of which include building a st rong, supportive, professional rela tionship with the mentee. This helps establish a safe and ethical envir onment. It allows the mentee the ability to come and ask for help and become willing to accept constructive instruction. The mentor is responsible with helping the mentee feel comfortable in the school and acts as an advocate for the mentee. The mentor introduces the mentee to their new colleagues and helps them learn where to find necessary res ources that will enhance strategies learned. The mentor oversees the mentee in a non-eval uative way and works through obstacles
84 which may arises. This support can be essent ial in the retention of the new teacher. Each of the mentors in this study were aske d to discuss which supports where important when mentoring a new teacher. Barbara had many ready responses and took them seriously. She felt these not only helped the mentee, but allowed her to strengthen her own mentoring strategies. I donÂ’t have the exact words, but my goa l is to effectively mentor a brand new teacher by showing her Â‘xyzÂ’ and including learning strategies. The only thing that I could find impeding is that there is not a time frame. If theyÂ’re going to set up a mentoring program they should make a time frame. If you have a good relationshi p, which I do, that new teacher is going to get to vent every Thursday mo rning and get a little more insight and find out sheÂ’s not alone I think thatÂ’s so import ant. I think the support and just knowing that person is there a nd is on your side and is going to be there to listen. Barbara voiced some concerns as to wh at she and many of the mentors felt the mentoring program in the school district needed to take into consideration. While they loved being mentors, they did feel that more could be done to help them help the new teacher. She very astutely spoke on those concerns: If they (school district) really beli eve that mentoring serves to retain teachers, if they really believe that, then they need to provide time in order to do this (mentor). I really thi nk they can improve on the individualism and the structure on how they set up a me ntoring. I think thatÂ’s one of the ways to help, but itÂ’s got to be on a re gular basis, just even if itÂ’s to check
85 in how did things go this week. The only thing I would criticize about the program is that there is no time (to mentor). I mean, we didnÂ’t have mutual planning periods; we didnÂ’t have lunch at the same time. Actually, I had my planning period when she had her lunch, so sometimes she would bring her lunch in. But you know yourself as a teacher there are meetings every morning. ItÂ’s crazy. Barbara often spoke of the necessity to support the new teacher in order to help them through the first year and want to re turn the following. She felt her ability to mentor a new teacher had an impact on help ing them want to stay in the teaching profession: I think itÂ’s really a crucia l step in retaining teachers. To give that them that support and remind them that Rome wasnÂ’t built in a day. Just when you think youÂ’ve learned it, itÂ’s go ing to change anyway. You know, go with the flow. And, too, let them kn ow that theyÂ’re not alone, you know. That itÂ’s very admirable that they w ould choose that type of profession. It takes a special person. They need a lot of positive input, because often you question your own competency when you start something and you make a mistake. Barbara truly believes that mentoring a ne w teacher is important and realizes the magnitude of the commitment she has made as a mentor. She sums up her dedication to mentoring in the following statement: I think that mentoring in my life ma de me realize how important I could be to someone else who is just starin g out. People seem to forget that
86 when you are a brand new teacher yo u know nothing and you just take it for granted that they know something. ItÂ’s amazing the little things that they donÂ’t know and to have someon e that supportive and non-judgmental there for them to work right next door and to be able to run over and say, Â“What do I do now?Â”, made me feel impor tant in her life and I was glad I could help. While Barbara did discuss some concerns about the mentoring program and did give some suggestions for remedying them, Chri stina chose to take a proactive approach to the situation by preparing lis ts and suggestions for the sc hool district to help new teachers travel through that difficult first year and to assist mentors in their roles as facilitators and advocates. She initially descri bed what she felt her role was as a mentor: Really my role is to help her with, kind of acquainting her to the school. I didnÂ’t get her until she was already at least in school about a month or more. I should have helped her in the beginning because she was lost. She was very happy to have me when I got there because she wanted someone to ask the little questions of: how the school runs, how do you do this, and about all of paperwork. A lot of it was asking if itÂ’s important, should I do this, should I know about this. My mentee was trying to help another mentee who one had just graduated college and this one had never been in school so they were both sitting in the same room together saying, Â“What do we do now?Â” So, I would talk to the other one too because it was just a matter of, Â“What do you need, what are you doing?Â” and they would just be able to ask questions of someone who
87 could possibly help them. We are just there for the school stuff, for the school environment and the climate, a nd that a lot of times can play a larger role, so IÂ’m sure she appreciates that. She continues with comments on what sh e feels mentor characteristics are: I think you have to be open, you have to be honest, you have to be willing to do this, you know put the time in wh atever they need. Different people need different amounts of time. You have to be patient. Christina feels the school district can help the mentoring program and that it should be more accessible and continues to be focused on retaining new teachers, especially in the field of Sp ecial Education. She readily sh ares her ideas and plans to discuss them at the school district le vel. She suggests the following ideas: I think each year we (mentors) shoul d have an update or meeting or something. I think we should have to do a certain number of hours (inservices), I really think we shoul d. Maybe we should do some kind of checklist, or something saying, Â“How is this person doing?Â” They (school district) should think logistically. Where you are placed is important. You have to be near them (mentee), you just have to be. I was in a very big school, my menteeÂ’ was not clos e by. We didnÂ’t have the same planning; we didnÂ’t have the same lunch, so you always had to get together after school. That means, this person is probably staying a lot anyway getting their stuff together, now they have to stay to get some help, you know? Support for the mentee, I think, itÂ’s like anything time. Time to give them (mentee) that youÂ’ re not having to take care of your
88 own stuff. I think that probably on e of the biggest th ings; you donÂ’t get a break from your stuff to go help them. I think that would be one of the biggest supports. Being near by would help. It would help you to support them. There need to be supports for me ntors, such as getting together with other mentors and saying how do you do it at your school; maybe even having more meeting at our school, as mentors. You could be helping each other (mentors) if youÂ’re doing something good and that another mentee could go watch. So youÂ’re (mentors) working together more. Truthfully it would be more beneficial to do that than to pay us. The pay is divided up so much anyway, so IÂ’d rather have it that way. I donÂ’t think anybodyÂ’s doing this for money. So, if you knew that you were going to be given time, maybe they would get more people to do it (mentor) if they knew it wasnÂ’t on their own time. I thi nk people might be more willing to take the time. That would be something you could plan for. You would know, Â“OK, weÂ’re going to cover this and we can take care of these things.Â” I think that would help tr emendously. I think finding a way to get together with other mentors, to see what theyÂ’re doing, what you could be doing would be very beneficial. Because I think that youÂ’re put out there and then you donÂ’t talk to anyo ne else unless you happen to know one. So I think ways of getting toge ther with other mentors would be a great support. Maybe a yearly m eetingÂ…not on your own timeÂ…I mean the one I went to at district was on our own time and it was really well attended, which means that it must be needed. I think they were shocked
89 that this many people wanted to come. Even in the summer during one of those preplanning days. Christina also shared suggestions for other mentors, as well: First thing, get to know your mentee as soon as possible. Make them feel welcomed. Help themÂ…just let them know there is someone there to talk to. Just give them a face and a person to talk to. Second, find time to mentor. Organize yourself so that if you are going to do this, you have to find the time to help them because theyÂ’re going to need you. So get your stuff together. And third, I guess just find out what they need. Whether theyÂ’ll tell you or not is not always the case. You know, they may be afraid. So, find a way to figure out wh at they need and give them that. YouÂ’re going to be a mentor, you are a mentor. How can we help you? I donÂ’t think anyoneÂ’s ever asked me Â“I s there anything you need?Â” I donÂ’t know who I would even ask, truthful ly. The school district should remember all of those things that the mentees need, so do the mentors. As a mentor, I donÂ’t know who IÂ’d go to. Even a newsletter or something would help. Perhaps a website coul d be developed. You could look on the mentor website. I mean I love doing those things. I would click on that. WhatÂ’s new for mentors? Try this. Maybe one of those kinds of things. While Christina had many ideas and suggestio ns for the school district, she also wanted to help the administration of her sc hool become more aware of the needs of the mentee and the mentor:
90 If the mentors got together with the administration and came up with information to tell your mentee, Â“Thi s is whatÂ’s going to be happening. So youÂ’re going to have to help them find a way to prepare for that. I think something like that would be a bi g help. Really if the mentors met with the administration as a groupÂ… wouldnÂ’t that make some sense? During her final interview, Christina s poke of having reflected on all of her suggestions due to the questions asked and has chosen to go to the school district and ask to help out beyond her role as a mentor at he r school. She has written her ideas down and will go to the school district and discuss ways to implement some of them. She felt the interviews she participated in help her de cide what she could do to help enhance the mentoring programs in the school district. Luka also spoke of what she felt mentor ing should be for the mentee and also discussed supports that would benefit the mentor. She has concerns about the retention of teachers and she felt mentoring was a good tool to use to help the mentoring program. The whole idea of mentoring somebody is to help them out, to make them successful at the job that they have If you are not providing what they need then it should be noted somewhere. You should also look at it as a reflective piece. IÂ’m not perfect Â– I make mistakes. There may be something that I missed altogether th at would have been an important piece of the puzzle, and even maki ng a check sheet: yes, it was accomplished, or no, it wasnÂ’t and give them back the feedback. The whole idea is to keep them as a teacher so you want to build that
91 relationship so they want to stay at your school and not go to a different school. Luka, who is a very strong advocate for he r children with special needs, also spoke of what is necessary for a mentor to have to support the mentee: You need an open relationship wher e you can either walk into the classroom or they can walk into yours and ask you a question at any time. You also need to have administration that is very supportive, as you want them (mentee) to come and observe you or you going and observing them, doing a lesson so you can provide feedb ack or they can pick up on some of the things that you would like them to incorporate more into their lesson plans. You also need a staff that is willing to work with new teachers and new ideas because weÂ’ve had a bunch of people retire so thereÂ’s bunch of new faces this year Those are probably the biggest essentials that you need. ItÂ’s kind of like molding someone to be a teacher. To get the skills that they ne ed so that they can be successful and have success teaching the children so th at theyÂ’ll want to stay instead of having a high turnover rate where youÂ’re always training ne w people. ItÂ’s better to get them in and help them be successful so theyÂ’ll want to stay. The administration definitely has to be there. Because not only can you go up there to get support, like leaving your own classroom to go watch or they can leave theirs to go watch you, but you also need that in case thereÂ’s something else going on. Can you go down there and observe? Do you see if this, this, and this is going on? Are things different when
92 youÂ’re in the room that when IÂ’m in the room? Those types of things. Get them (administration) to sit in on a pa rent conference or two so that they know what is being presented to the parents or how itÂ’s being presented because thatÂ’s hard when you Â’re a first year teacher. When Luka was asked how long a new t eacher should be mentored, she had a ready response. She had previously discussed the fact that she had worked with mentees who were not ready to work without support from a mentor. I think the relationship probably needs to last for more than a year. Even if itÂ’s not, our school district pays you to be a mentor, but I donÂ’t know that you necessarily have to have a m onetary value assigned to doing it. I think, even after a year of teaching, you still need support, especially for ESE teachers. There is so much to do, especially with IEP and providing accommodations and finding those hooks to getting those kids attached to wanting to learn. I just think there ar e too many valuable things in an ESE classroom that you canÂ’t learn in a ye ar. You need a little bit longer. Many of the mentors also spoke of the loca tion of the mentee. Most preferred that the mentee be close to the mentor, to allo w for easier access. Luka supported this thinking: I think it would be hard if she was across the campus. I wouldnÂ’t be able to get over there. Plus with only a 35 minute schedule, special schedule, by the time you get over there, youÂ’re time is gone.
93 Although Luka felt there were aspects of the mentoring program that needed reconsiderations, she really felt the school dist rict was at least attempting to enhance the mentoring program. I like the fact that we do have the mentor system. I feel that as long as itÂ’s there, weÂ’ll maintain and keep the stronger of the teachers and the ones that werenÂ’t meant to be will weed themselves out. ThatÂ’s what we need to do. You donÂ’t want anybody in there for too long thatÂ’s going to have an impact on the children negatively. I think the mentor program is a positive thing. I donÂ’t see it as being a negative. I see it as beingÂ…I think youÂ’ll always need support. Mixael also voiced his ideas of what good mentor characteristics encompass. He spoke of how he makes a point of being th ere for his mentees, the parents and, most importantly for Mixael, the students. He sees them as his first consideration. I think you need to be very open and willing to accept that there are things you donÂ’t know. YouÂ’ll have to find out if you are going to have to be the kind of person who not only initia tes going and looking for opportunities to help with a person, but just bei ng open minded as far as the kind of questions they might ask you. They might ask the same question 5 or 6 times you know over in just a little bit different way. Then, obviously they didnÂ’t really understa nd the answer. You have to be patient with that. You have to understand that a lot of th ings you might have said they were just not able to fully comprehend. A lot of times you are talking 10 minutes after school or 5 minutes before school, so itÂ’s a litt le bit chaotic.
94 ItÂ’s very important to be patient, an d open. Make yourself available and supportive. You definitely need to be there to just encourage the person. There are a lot of days that things ar e not going real well and they need to hear that itÂ’s probably a lo t better than they think it is. Make sure they get their questions answered. Make sure that they ha ve you as a back up type of deal. ThatÂ’s what I see it as important. Mixael also had his preferences of placem ent of the mentee in conjunction to the mentor. He emphasized the need to make things most accessible for the mentee. Well, I think the most obvious preferen ce would be on the same team. So if itÂ’s just a primary team and youÂ’re in the same building at least, then, you know that you can go to that person. You donÂ’t have to go to someone else and hope itÂ’s the right an swer. If you need an answer then itÂ’s quick and also probably eliminat es a lot of maybe meeting for no reason. I still think you need to have that formal meeting, also. ItÂ’d be definitely preferential to be on the same team or at least in the same building. Mixael made an interesting observation when he noted that the mentee could benefit from meeting with other mentees as a support system. He felt mentees would understand what each of them was experiencing and discussing issues together could help make mentees feel as though they were not alone in their concerns and questions. I think the mentees should probably meet together, too. It might help to get a group together. This would be good and seems like a positive thing.
95 I think itÂ’s good for the mentees also to have to know that maybe itÂ’s a bigger process sometimes. It would be supportive. His feelings about the school district program are positive and he appreciates the fact that the school district takes the mentor and mentee into consideration. He discusses his thoughts below: Over all, I think itÂ’s a great theory (mentoring), you know? ItÂ’s a great thing to have people who are there for the mentees and someone they could turn to, hopefully and someone who, hopefully, will help them with a lot of little issues th at can be big ones, too. When asked what supports a mentor should offer to the mentee, Sevi spoke of her experiences with her mentees, as eith er a formal or informal mentor: They should be flexible. You have to be willing to try something that you may think is not going to work but you know you have to give them the opportunity to try it, cause if you donÂ’t fail at something you donÂ’t know how to pick yourself up and keep goi ng with it I think you have to be willing to listen and not always be opin ionated. Be open, be flexible. If I need to go to her (mentor) or she needs to come to me, the door is always open. Sevi took her initial mentor training in Colorado and she spoke about the program she took to become a mentor. She spoke a bout some of the supports she found helpful: I went through resolution facilitation and that was a really good class because they put us in situations where weÂ’d have all kinds of conflicts between parents and teachers and teachers and students and
96 administration. That was a really good training and would be helpful here. When I did mentoring and co aching here, it was really good, but they didnÂ’t put you in situations. You had basically had to go back to your school and practice situations or tr y to find a situati on to get into, you know, because itÂ’s just different. The resolution facilitation was really, really good. When asked what supports sheÂ’d like to see in place for her as a mentor, Sevi answered: Wow, I would think to have time within a day that you feel like your not rushing. YouÂ’re not rushing from your classroom to that classroom, back to this classroom and that youÂ’re leaving the kids that you have to leave in a good place. IÂ’ve always left my classroom to go to their classroom. For me to get coverage was easier having an instructional assistant and having another teacher in a classroom has ma de it easier to get from one place to another place. TinoÂ’s understanding of the characteristi cs a mentor should possess sound much like the other mentors in the study. He is a se rious individual and th is shines through his answers. He spoke often about his idea of the mentorÂ’s role. They need patience. A lot of patie nce and seriousness about what youÂ’re doing. YouÂ’ve got to not take it ligh tly. I wonÂ’t judge other teachers, but I know myself that I think this is a ve ry serious job. Bottom line. But you have to be patient. I donÂ’t think its lif e or death but itÂ’s extremely serious. I mean you have to be real patient w ith someone. Patience is the biggest
97 thing and seriousness. When itÂ’s really important to get serious and let it be known that this isnÂ’t something you take lightly. IÂ’d say be up front with whomever youÂ’re working with, first and foremost, all the time. Be patient. And make yourself a very good listener and do a lot of it. Because they say a lot of things that they donÂ’t realize theyÂ’re saying and when you repeat it back to them itÂ’s like, Â“Oh, I didnÂ’t realize I was there. I said, Â“Yeah, yeah, listen to yourself.Â” He also speaks about the schoolÂ’s and administrationÂ’s responsibility to the mentee: Make sure the principals and assistan t principals are w ith everything and these two are. So itÂ’s a support that you donÂ’t even notice, because itÂ’s just there. Well, IÂ’ve got a histor y with the one (principal) for the lastÂ…IÂ’ve been with her at three different schools. So itÂ’s something I donÂ’t really give a lot of thought about anymore. ThatÂ’s why IÂ’m with her because sheÂ’sÂ…you go to anybody in this school and if itÂ’s needed, sheÂ’s there to support you. So, sheÂ’s terrif ic. Terrific. But yeah, IÂ’d say anything you can imagine that would come under that heading, IÂ’m sure I have it because itÂ’s always there. IÂ’ve never heardÂ…her door is always totally open. And thatÂ’s important. I think that part helps. But it also helps just that you know that. You know what I mean; it just helps all the time. That just makes this even more easier. And they thinkÂ…I like the way they take notice and they let th e interns know that theyÂ’re in the school and they let them know that they appreciate them being here. That
98 type of thing. I think the biggest th ing is whatever school youÂ’re at that the administrator gives you 100% backing. In summary, this question seemed to totally focus the mentors on what they would like to have in place to help the mentee and, in turn, help themselves. They were all willing to have more training and spoke of ways to make the program better, although they did feel that the school district was doing much to s upport the mentee and to help retain good teachers. Each of the intervie wed mentors was committed to their mentee and to the school district program, even bei ng willing to offer suggestions that would enhance the program. It was very interesting that many of the mentor s didnÂ’t feel that they even needed to be paid to mentor only be supported by the school district, the school and, most importantly, their admini stration. This should be taken into consideration by all counties who are attemp ting to establish a strong, well-received mentoring program. As the mentors explai ned, this would help recruit and keep good teachers from leaving. The strongest commen tary that emanated from the mentors was that they wanted to help ne w teachers and that they desire to be supported by individuals that would most benefit the mentee. 5. Does mentoring affect th e mentor beliefs and/or values? A personÂ’s beliefs and values are truly a very personal consideration. Each person comes to have certain beliefs and va lues that encompass their entire thinking about all aspects of their liv es, including their teaching and mentoring experiences. These beliefs and values are learned and deve loped through each individualÂ’s experiences in life. All teachers bring their values and beliefs with them into the classroom. Care must be taken that those beliefs and values do not ove rshadow the need to view
99 colleagues and students as indi viduals with their own beliefs and values. This becomes paramount between a mentor and a mentee. Th erefore, beliefs and values become large considerations when mentori ng. The mentor becomes an observer and support system, not an evaluator of things thought to be different than those that others may hold important. Mentors interviewed in this study had a strong understand ing of the need to be cautious when working with their mentees. Most mentors felt that their beliefs and values led them to want to help others and thus, brought them to the decision to become mentors. Christina, who truly believes in advocacy for the mentee and the need to be supportive, explains her views: Yeah, I think so. I think you have to be an advocate; you have to know what needs to be done and being the person whoÂ’s helping the ones coming in. YouÂ’re the one who can speak logically and be able to say, Â“You know, this person needs this, or we need thisÂ”. Then, try to make it better and we would try to have mee tings where we would discuss what would be a good idea and how to do this. So, yeah, I think itÂ’s definitely helped me want to help people and try to advocate. Christina, who always thought through the questions and answered reflectively during the interview process, shared more of her beliefs: I think pretty much my beliefs and valu es are pretty set. However, I think they get opened up. You know, maybe I look at them more, think about them more. I donÂ’t think they change maybe they become stronger. It confirms that you canÂ’t make someon e be something theyÂ’re not. You canÂ’t, it just goes to show, this is wh at I do believe. I believe everybodyÂ’s
100 different, and we need to treat them differently and with respect and maybe it just makes them stronger if anything. I donÂ’t think it changes them, it makes them stronger. Christina is empathetic toward being ther e for her colleagues and strives to help them whenever she can. She is awakening to her own mentoring proc ess and is realizing she is an advocate for the field, for the teachers and for the children. She feels very strongly about the needs of the mentee and the children. Beliefs and values, thatÂ’s a hard one Maybe itÂ’s opened my eyes to people. I think that you get to know t eachers. You get to know them in a different way, you know and getting to know the people that youÂ’re helping. You probably know more a bout their teaching and all that kind of stuff, where you donÂ’t necessarily know that about other teachers. So maybe beliefs about how teachers should treat each other. My old mentee always felt judged, always; like she wasn Â’t doing it right (teaching). It made me really realize th at you canÂ’t do that. You canÂ’t do that to people and those people should not be doing this job if theyÂ’re ju st, if theyÂ’re not going to make you feel good. I mean to me, I think you should be boasting about what they are doing. IÂ’ m sure that they are doing as good a job as they can and to hear they are doing it wrong and to make them feel bad would be terrible. So, I think in terms of ways that theyÂ’re learning, just like the kids. So, they need to be told that they are doing a good job and all those kinds of things.
101 While Christina was very verbal as to her concerns about the mentoring programs in the school district, Mixael was strongl y connected to the a ccountability factor connected to mentoring. He s poke about his own beliefs and va lues and the care he took to keep them separate from his task of bei ng a mentor. His consideration for his mentee, students, and colleagues is reflected in his response: You mean do my beliefs come in on to them? IÂ’m sure they do, especially this day and age; there ar e a lot of different ideas of what right for kids. Well, I do try and be open-minded. I like to think I was before (mentoring), but now I definitely do. We have to. You know, itÂ’s not always my wayÂ’s the right way, which I donÂ’t think it ever really has been. You never know, it might come off that way sometimes. But, I think itÂ’s definitely more of giving people opt ions and trying to help them talk through things and think about the pros and cons. Let them know this may a certain way, a district thing, where itÂ’s a mandate that has been handed down. This is the way you have to do this, then being clear That this is what that is vs. there is a couple of ways to handle some things. You need to use your best judgment. Y ou know the kids the best and giving them (mentee) that power to make th e choices, too. I guess I wouldnÂ’t say they definitely havenÂ’t changed (beliefs and values). I could say they have a little bit. IÂ’ve always tried to be flexible and I realize things change and you might have a certain idea abou t something and somebody else can do it a different way and that works too, you know?
102 MixaelÂ’s solutions to helping the ment ee without ignoring whose own beliefs and values are mentioned in the following passage: Well I think itÂ’s a matter of making them to feel comfortable with coming to talk to me for one thing and the other thing is just letting them know that I do know what I am talking about as far as if it is a district mandate or is it something that they can c hoose from. A lot of the questions do have to deal with. I am honest with them if you ask 3 or 4 different people at district office or supervisors a nd you might get different answers, slightly different answers and then we kind of have to figure out what we are going to do. I also want them to feel like they ar e secure in the decisions they are making, too. I th ink the impact is knowing that they have somebody to talk to. Hopefull y, thatÂ’s something that makes them more secure in what they are doing to. Everything about it seems to be a process that we are going th rough; a different process. Mixael also spoke of the effect and impact he feels mentoring has made on him as a teacher and mentor: Well, itÂ’s a nice way to feel like youÂ’re helping teachers officially kind of feel youÂ’re counted on, on things outside the ordinary. Which is good. I think itÂ’s rewarding. It can be fr ustrating on those days when you feel like youÂ’ve told the person especially what needs to happen, and theyÂ’re just kind of like blowing it off at the time Then, they have to keep asking you about it or they didnÂ’t do it. It could be frustrating and then a lot of times you just you know if itÂ’s a person whoÂ’s just generally trying to do
103 the right thing. ItÂ’s just a little easier to accept. IÂ’d say, generally, itÂ’s rewarding and itÂ’s definitely worth it. ItÂ’s (mentoring) probably reinforced a lot of those values a bout helping others; the professional development of others. Really, itÂ’s all about helping the kids. If youÂ’re helping teachers do better, then, hopefu lly, the kids are doing better. I donÂ’t think theyÂ’ve changed (beliefs a nd values). I think theyÂ’ve been reinforced. Enhanced. For Barbara, beliefs and values revolve around her understanding of herself and who she is as a person. She has high expecta tions of herself as an honest individual and brings that into her mentoring. For Barbara, her beliefs and values have been internalized from her own history. No, I think my values are my values and because IÂ’m mentoring does not change the way I feel about anything. IÂ’m like seeing it from a different aspect, but it doesnÂ’t change my valu es, no. Honestly, I mean I am honest, and have integrity. I had those values, but I underscored them, because now youÂ’re showing someone else the right way to do things. The values were there they have just been highlighted. She explains her perspective on what is im portant to offer the mentee as a mentor and what she feels she brings to a mentoring relationship. Well. the number one thing is that you have to be sincere and love children. And if you donÂ’t have that, then, you donÂ’t belong there. IÂ’ve always thought that way, but I think you get a sense of that in other people as well. I think that getting to know where someone is coming from in the
104 relationship is a big part of it, because they could be very disillusioned if they were expecting ABC and got DEF. You donÂ’t know everybodyÂ’s individual expectation, but I imagine there are people who come into the profession and expect to be like, Â“E verybody sits in their seat in this perfect little classroom and everybody learns what theyÂ’re supposed to.Â” ThatÂ’s just not reality, especially in ESE. There are a lot of stumbling blocks, and the paperwork, we ll thatÂ’s another story. Barbara is very articulate in her respons es and she reflects upon what is being asked and thinks about what she will say that will best match her thinking. She had suggestions for mentors and also felt that this is how she perceives her own strategies with her mentee: Communicate that youÂ’ve been there and that you will be able to get past that first year and youÂ’ll look back on it someday and realize that, yes, it was hard, but it was doable and that you got through it. Because knowing that other people feel the same wa y is, to me, personally a wonderful thing. Validating the mentee and allowing them to realize that their ideas and opinions have merit was an important component of mentoring for the mentors in the study. Luka, who describes herself as being Â‘child -centeredÂ’, makes a poi nt of helping the mentee feel less burdened and protected: I try not to let any of the outside bu rdens dictate what is going on in the classroom. We you know itÂ’s what they (mentee) need to be successful. I hope that I convey that to the people th at IÂ’m mentoring. That itÂ’s not
105 only to their benefit, but that itÂ’s for t hose children and they come first. All the other stuff that they want you to do comes after you fulfill their (students) needs. She goes on to explain the reason why sh e feels professional growth in her teaching and what she believes is the mo st important aspect of her career. I think IÂ’m more conscious of what I do in the classroom, just little things, like making sure that I am continually monitoring the childrenÂ’s progress so that they can be mainstreamed. Keeping track of their work a little better, so that I can pull work samples easier. I think just being organized overall, writing things down as opposed to trying to remember it all. ItÂ’s a little easier. My personal opinion is that IÂ’ve always been studentcentered first. I mean it doesnÂ’t real ly matter what else is going on. I never let the children know that, Â“O h my God, I have to learn the new IEPs!Â” I still believe the children sh ould come first and I think sometimes we tend to want to make decisions based on what we would like to do, as opposed to what the children need. And itÂ’s evident in these end-of-theyear placement issues where we are deciding based on who the teacher is going to be and I donÂ’t think that is always the right decision. While Luka readily expounds that she feels the children should always come first, she also admits that she feels her mentor ing may make a difference. In a positive manner, no matter what the mentee decides about teaching: I kind of feel more of a pride knowin g that I might be like the hook to keep them in this school or the push to get them out if I think that they are
106 not doing the job. Which happens. So me people come into teaching and suddenly realize that theyÂ’re not really cut out for and itÂ’s not for them. IÂ’d rather have them find out early instead of trying to stick with it. The mentors definitely had a very dis tinct understanding about how they felt. Many defended their beliefs and values, but were sure to not color the thinking of their mentee. Some reflected on how they came to ha ve the beliefs and values they claimed as their own and realized this he lped to form the person they became. Sevi credited her family for her values and felt that these life lessons follow them into their classroom. Sevi, who is part Native American, discusses her b ackground and the lesson taught: My father used to say that you always give back. You may not always give back money. You may not alwa ys have the money but you give of yourself and he used to help others. Christmas Day was never a holiday for us. Our Christmas Day was spent feeding the police department, the telephone company, and everybody who ha d to work. We would feed them. So you were always giving b ack something. It was a natural thing to do and so I grew up that way. Sevi does bring some of these same va lues with her when she works with a mentee, but not in a way that is overbearing and judgmental. These values and beliefs are so much a part of this mentor, collea gues automatically recognize her passion: You should always help. I try not to be opinionated. I try to be very, very careful not to have that, Â“I know it al l!Â”, because I neve r will know it all. We were raised to live a good lif e, you respect everybody else, and you value everybodyÂ’s opinion and whatever religion they are. ItÂ’s who they
107 are. I always think that people have choices. ItÂ’s when people donÂ’t have choices that they run scared. Even in the classroom, they donÂ’t see their choices and our jobs as teachers is to help them that thereÂ’s a choice as to how to handle a situation. I think it he lps me to look at the world, not with blinders on but with leadership. They need to look at the big picture. ThereÂ’s always a big picture. I hop e the way I was raised is to look was to be open minded and not be very narrow minded. However, I think I had pretty good values to begin with. For Sevi, the perception of her own idea of beliefs and values is a simple one. She feels everyone should re spect everyoneÂ’s views and opinions. She explains how mentoring has helped her expand on her ow n feelings about beliefs and values: I think mentoring is important. I thin k that it bonds peopl e together and if itÂ’s really a good experience for people they are willing to look down the road and say, Â“You know what? That person helped me! Let me help somebody else!Â” I think a lot of peop le in education tend to help each other. Mentoring to me was just an extension of what I do. ThereÂ’s a lot of value to it, for those who receive it and what they do with it. If they do nothing with it, then it hasnÂ’t been valuable. Tino also viewed his professionalism and hi s beliefs to have been fostered in him as he grew. His mother passed away when he was nine and his father passed away while he was serving in Viet Nam. He took on the role of mentor and pa rent to his fourteen year old sister. For Tino, these experiences help to mold the individual he is. He explains that his beliefs and values are more than mentoring:
108 We do come in with certain values and beliefs and of course people say your not suppose to hand that on to someone else. I donÂ’t think itÂ’s changed anything (mentoring). What it does is it helps you review all the stuff, you know, as you get on in years, youÂ’ve done a lot more in your life. We have all have forgotten a lot more than we could all hope to remember. So in the 9 years that I have been teaching, there is a lot of stuff, you know it, you just donÂ’t think about that with the hectic day and there are some things that will come around. No, IÂ’m not sure mentoring has done that. TeachingÂ’s got me a lot moreÂ… In summary, it was not a diffi cult task for the mentors to express their ideas about beliefs and values. All felt they did have ve ry strong views and opini ons as to who they were as people and as mentors. None of th e mentors hesitated to verbalize their thoughts on the subject. Most importan tly, however, every one of the mentors felt it was important to help the mentee grow in their own beliefs and values and to le arn to express these ideas in a way that did not overwhelm or offend anyone. They know who they are because of their beliefs and values, but they stressed the importance of allowing their mentees to grow through their own beliefs a nd values and become successful teachers who are strong in their desire to b ecome proficient in their field.
109 Chapter 5 Discussion The literature on mentoring is rich with information relating to how much a new teacher or mentee benefits from the help and encouragement of a veteran teacher. The importance of mentoring has been discussed ex tensively in the research literature for many years. Mentoring has been found to be a very beneficial aspect of new teacher programs as an avenue for helping in the retention of new teachers and as a way to acknowledge and use the talents and expertise of veteran teachers. The mentor teacher has been found to be the most important element in mentoring programs throughout the United States. However, very little literatur e addresses the impacts of mentoring for the mentor Mentors Interviewed In the present study, the researcher interv iewed six special education elementary school mentors in an effort to discover wh at, if any benefits to themselves, mentors perceive in the mentoring process. The si x mentors selected for this study had been teaching from 5 to 25 years and they had b een mentors between 2 and 15 years. All participating mentors currently teach in el ementary schools in a county near Tampa, Florida, and all are special e ducation teachers. Two of the mentors also serve or have served as behavioral specialists for self-cont ained special education classes. Three teach in middle socioeconomic schools with one being close to a high socioeconomic rating, two in low socioeconomic schools, and one in a high socioeconomic sc hool. Two of the
110 schools earned a grade of A fr om the state based on FCAT results, two earned a B and two earned a C. One high and one middle so cioeconomic school earned the A, one mid and one low earned the B, while one middl e and one low socioeconomic earned a C grade based on the FCAT testing results. F our of their schools earned a provisional Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) score, while two did not. The mentors, who consisted of four fema les and two males, had taught grades K through 12th grade. Four had been trained throug h a Clinical Education course at the county, one had obtained trai ning through an on-line Mentor Training program and one had received mentor training and counseling courses in Colorado. She also had some training in the county. All ment ors were very willing to be interviewed and reflect on their experiences. The interview questions were derived from the literature and from the researcherÂ’s experience as a mentor. Study In preparation for the study, interview ques tions were developed and tested in a pilot. The methodology for the study wa s based on SeidmanÂ’s wo rk on the interview process (1998). Three interv iews were conducted with each mentor on three separate occasions and the interviews were recorder and transcribed. Once the interviews were conducted and transcribed, common themes th roughout the interviews were identified, coded, categorized and analyzed using the text analysis software, ATLAS.ti. This analysis enabled the researcher to identify themes that emerged during the interviews. These were matched to the or iginal research questions.
111 The research questions posed in the study were: 1. In what ways do mentors undergo a discernable developmental process based on experience in mentoring other teachers? 2. How does mentoring affect the ment orÂ’s perception of job satisfaction, sense of efficacy, and commitment to the education profession? 3. How does mentoring affect the mentorsÂ’ perception of their own teaching and sense of professionalism in their own classroom? 4. What contexts and supports do me ntors see as most important to successful mentoring? 5. Does mentoring affect the mentorsÂ’ beliefs and/or values? In order to establish inter-rater agreement, the researcher developed clear definitions and rules for coding, which are contained in Appendix 4. Then, she and another doctoral student inde pendently coded one interview. There was 94% agreement was found between the two. This study was established to help address the gap in the literature on the effect mentoring has on the mentor. Since research has shown that little is known about how mentors experience the process of providing mentoring to the new teacher, interview questions were created that would help di scover how mentors perceived their roles as mentors and how this information might be used to benefit the training of new and established mentors. This information could help establish potential opportunities needed to improve the conditions under which mentoring takes place. In response to the
112 research questions, the mentors provided thei r perceptions of the mentoring process and ideas about how to strengthen the progr am and help retain new teachers. The main theme resulting from the interviews was that the mentors feel a need and desire to help. Mentors shared the need to increase support for the new teacher and the necessity to provide the tools to create stronger and fully supported mentor training programs. Several of the mentors had not been mentored themselves and believed that all new teachers needed to have someone who wo uld provide a support system. Some spoke of having had problems in school, with either learning disabilities or insecurities during their own first years of teaching, while ot hers had positive experiences as Â‘informal mentorsÂ’ with children or colleagues prior to becoming teachers. For them, becoming a mentor was a natural progression to ward their teaching career. Many of the mentor characteristics disc ussed by the mentors interviewed are found in the mentoring li terature including: Mentors help the mentee to survive their beginning teaching experiences; Mentors establish mentoring relationshi ps that were ba sed on dialogue and reflection; Mentors help build professional partnerships with their mentees (Fairbanks, et. al., 2002); The mentors interviewed in this study al so emphasized the need to understand that mentoring is not just a formal event, but may include informal support. Many of the mentors found that informal mentoring was ve ry satisfying and made them feel as though they were an important influence in their school environment.
113 The mentors were all quick to mention that they did not mentor for the monetary incentive established by the county. They reiter ated time and again that their decision to work with the new mentee was based on their de sire to help new teachers do well in order to help children do well in school. The me ntors believed that a strong teacher would create strong students. They spoke of the need to retain special education teachers and were concerned that the numb er of special education teachers who leave the field very early in their careers has increased and will co ntinue to increase if the new teacher is not supported. The mentors expressed the view that mentors should exhibit the ability to communicate, be nonjudgmental and diplomatic and be aware of the differences among personalities. According to the mentors, being knowledgeable with subject matter, understanding individual differences, and be ing willing to share new ideas with the mentee, were important parts of mentoring new teachers. They also expressed that it was important to be well-versed in different teachi ng strategies to help new teachers with the actual teaching process. The mentors held honesty, truthfulness, and the ability to know when to step back, as valuable tools for crea ting a workable relationship with the mentee. While the mentors had expectations for the mentees, they also felt strongly about being advocates for them. Building a strong working relationship with the mentee was considered to be essential to the success of their mentoring process. Throughout the interviews, the mentors di scussed mentee charac teristics and how these characteristics could enhance the mentori ng relationship. Mentor s stated that it was important for the mentee to be willing to accept constructive comments from the mentor and to be willing to attempt to implement what the mentor had suggested. They spoke of
114 the lack of mentor and mentee time to meet a nd plan together. They indicated that the new teacher was often either unable or unwilli ng to meet before or after school hours. The problem of time to meet was mentioned often, and the mentors pointed out that the county program needed to help find a solution. This concern was also found to be a large problem with mentoring programs described in the literature. The mentors interviewed expressed the view that the training they had received to become mentors was sufficient to begin with but lacked important components. They believed that more training should occur beyond the beginning of the mentoring process. They thought more time to plan with the ment ee was vital and that all mentors should have the opportunity to meet with other ment ors. This would allow them to discuss mentee concerns and to share effective strate gies for working with the mentee. Mentors suggested that a checklist of requirements w ould help the mentor become accountable for their responsibilities with the mentee. Th ey recommended that some sort of evaluative instrument be created that c ould help define specific goals and rules when working with the mentee. As the interviews progressed, the mentors became more willing to voice their concerns for the training of mentors and the monitoring of the mentoring process. Many suggested that more administ rative support and faculty was n eeded to aid in retaining new teachers and making them feel part of the school. Such efforts by administrators could create a safe environment for the mentee and promote their success. When the mentors spoke of their own be liefs and values and how these were influenced or impacted by mentoring, they expressed the view that their beliefs and values were not totally cha nged, but they were enhanced. They spoke of being more
115 cautious and detailed in their own teaching ha bits. For the mentors, mentoring was an Â‘extensionÂ’ of who they are as teachers and pe ople. The mentors stated that they learned along with the mentee every time they worked together. Their sa tisfaction came from seeing the progress of the mentee and th e success in their classrooms. Proximity was an important factor in the mentoring process according to the mentors interviewed. Being at the same sc hool and possibly on the same team was the most operative situation for working with th e mentee. This would make it easier to observe and assist the mentee when they needed it and not after the fact, when the mentor and mentee could find time to meet. Many of their experiences were different and they continued to be willing to wo rk through any obstacles in m eeting. Time was the biggest concern, since there was never enough time to plan or meet. By discussing the impact of mentori ng on the mentor, the mentors interviewed spoke of ways to identify the benefits of serving as a mentor and to help mentors understand and reflect on the pr ocess. The mentors did have a strong understanding in the process of mentoring for themselves and how they might impact the mentee with whom they might be working. They were reflec tive in their understandi ng of the mentoring process and made attempts to search for ways to best meet the needs of a mentee. They spoke of their reasons for choosing to become mentors and their desire to do the best they could to build upon their own knowledge base of teaching in order to benefit novice teachers, school systems, and, most impor tantly, the education of students. Throughout the interviewing pr ocess, it was found that the selected mentors were committed to the field of special education. They spoke of the need for professionalism in their chosen career and the need to he lp create a strong, well-supported environment
116 for the new teacher. The mentors spoke often of their desire to encourage the administrators of each individual school a nd the mentoring program in county to also help the new teachers feel safe a nd supported in their new school. On the whole, mentors found mentoring a very rewarding endeavor and planned on continuing to mentor. They also menti oned that the monetary incentive was not a factor for them to continuing to mentor They spoke of their own professional satisfaction and believed that mentoring wa s enhanced by mentoring, but that many of them expanded their education because they ex perienced the need and desire to Â‘do moreÂ’ and the need to seek out new. One ment or expressed a desire to build on her own professional education: Â“Yeah Mentoring has helped me want more, but I think so because I am not satisfied with just knowing. ThereÂ’s always something out there that I donÂ’t know about, so it always leads to someth ing elseÂ”. Others spoke of always having been satisfied teaching because they liked wo rking with Â‘the kidsÂ’. For this mentor, personal satisfaction was already in place. He states, Â“If anything, it has a positive impact just because it makes it more f un. When you have a good menteeÂ…it makes it easyÂ”. Many mentors took great pride in mentor ing and believed they might be Â‘the hookÂ’ to help retain a good teacher. Also, so me spoke of increasing the time to mentor the new teacher should go beyond the first year, even if Â‘there were not a monetary value assigned to being a mentorÂ’. Some believe d mentoring made them better teachers and found the process rewarding. They agreed th at mentoring was time consuming, but also purposeful. Several of the mentors expresse d the belief that ment oring had given them
117 purpose and an understanding of how powerful the mentoring process was for them. The responses of the mentors continuously came back to their desire to help. Implications of the study show that ther e is satisfaction and many benefits for the mentor due to the mentoring process. Th e responses to the questions asked throughout the three interviews showed that thes e mentors responded very similarly. One of the essential questions in the st udy was if the mentors believed that they experienced a discernable developmental pro cess through mentoring. Their perceptions of the process and whether it existed for th em was sometime unclear. When asked about their own experience of the process, and where the mentors saw themselves on this continuum, they were not always aware of wh ere they were. Some expressed they were just at the beginning, while other saw themselves at the ending phase of their Â‘journeyÂ’. Through the interviews and the discussions s timulated by the questions, the mentors were often able to recognize that they had progres sed through their years of mentoring. Much of this understanding revolved around the num ber of years the mentor had taught and mentored. The more years a mentor had ta ught and mentored, the more recognition of a developmental process was mentioned. Mullen, (2000) relates the experiences of several mentors involved in a comentoring partnership that para llel the findings of this st udy. Mullen discusses the fact that the mentors had an understa nding of their own goals, con cepts of their projects, and how they worked to develop them, much as the mentors in this study came to an understanding of their own development as me ntors. Mullen points out, Â“Participants said they are continuing to learn about mentoring, synergy, and support groups. They noted they are learning from others, their liv es have become enhanced, and they feel
118 more comfortable mentoring others. They i ndicated a need for mentoring relationships and values that support collaborating fo r a common goal. One teacher responded: Working on this project has increased my aw areness of mentorship and deepened my understanding of the importance of the process. I have always liked working with others and using them as sounding boards for my ideas but I did not realiz e how much I "drew" from others.Â” In the same respect, many me ntors in this study s poke strongly of their experiences as mentors and how they have learned and benefited from being mentors. ResearcherÂ’s Perceptions As a veteran teacher for twenty-six years and a formal mentor of nearly twenty years, the researcher believes very strongly in the necessity to assist the new teacher. Acting as an advocate for new teachers and co lleagues helped the researcher develop as an educator and realize the be nefits to be found in mentor ing. This study was conducted to understand how other mentors experience th e process. The inte rview questions were informed by her experiences as a mentor. The researcher discovered more than anticipated from the responses of the mentors in the study. Not only were their an swers closely connected to the perceptions and beliefs of the researcher but they mentioned benefits due to mentoring that the researcher had not recognized. The mentors listed many of the same characteristics of a successful mentor written in the literature. Their answers showed their proactive attitude in helping to make the ment oring process even more succ essful in their county. One of the most exciting aspects of th e conversations with the mentors came in the form of their gratitude in being asked to be a part of th is study. All were willing to participate and felt they had much to share a bout their experiences with mentoring. They
119 related the fact that no one had ever asked th eir opinion or asked th em to reflect on their own perceptions of mentoring. The most beneficial aspects of their interviews were the comments and recommendations they wished to share with the county. They believed their suggestions could benefit the mentor ing program in their county. Two mentors interviewed were committed to planning meeti ngs with the director of mentors in the county. They planned on taking their suggestio ns to the director and to volunteer their help in the implementation of their ideas. On e of the suggestions was to design a website that would help connect all mentors and ment ees to each other and enable them to ask questions, make suggestions and offer teaching and mentoring strategi es. The researcher believes their proactive attitude will be beneficial to the ment oring program in the county. During this study, it became evident to the re searcher that the comments of the mentors showed a strong commitment to mentoring a nd a strong desire to help the mentoring process grow and improve in the county. In the perceptions of the researcher the mentors came into the interviews with different reasons for agreeing to be a part of this study, but with one goal. They all wanted to voice their concerns for novice teachers and the mentoring program in general. The mentors gave many sound suggestions as to how to help the county improve its mentoring program. Some of th eir suggestions included: Create a web page where mentors c ould connect with one another and share things that worked, as well as concerns with the mentoring process; Continue training and taking refr esher courses on mentoring; Reduce the amount of paperwork requi red, especially for the Special Education teacher;
120 Create more accountability in the ment oring process for the mentor and the mentee; Allow the mentee to give suggestions to help evaluate the partnership; Keep mentor and mentee in close proximity; Focus more attention on matching of mentor and mentee Set clear and concise goals and expect ations for mentors and mentees. Recommendations Future studies of the impact of me ntoring on the mentor should include mentors in middle and high schools. The recommendations of the mentors in this study should be considered by other counties to help improve th e effectiveness of their mentoring programs. Additional training for mentors is needed. The mentoring process could be established in preservice teacher education programs to help beginning teachers adjust more readily to the transition from student to novice teacher. More research is needed to understand how mentori ng can be used to help retain teachers in sp ecial education. Studies of the veteran teachers co uld be useful in understanding who should mentor novice teachers. Current research discusses the need to be selective when matching a new teacher with a mentor. Literature on mentoring suggests that retired teacher s could benefit the new teacher and
121 be able to spend more time in assist ing the mentee through the first year of teaching. Most importantly, mentors should be supported in th eir position as mentors by the county in which they teach, as well as by the administration in the school in which they teach. Conclusion This study was conducted to help determ ine the effects of mentoring on the mentor. There was a clear indication that thos e interviewed did believe their lives have been affected by their work as mentors. Many spoke of their own beliefs and values being enhanced through the mentoring process. The mentors were motivated to help new teachers. They found mentoring to be a sati sfying part of their own careers and many chose to increase their own professional education. They found mentoring to be rewarding and stated they would mentor even if they were no t paid to do so. Many went into mentoring because of their own background, as some stated they were Â“raised to be care giversÂ” and to help when needed. Th e mentors interviewed were strong advocates for their mentees, and more importantly, for the ch ildren in their classes. They stated that mentoring made them more involved and eff ective teachers in their own classroom. The mentors perceived themselves as important in their school environmen t due to their roles as mentors and a few mentors even wanted to stay with their mentees after the first year of mentoring. The mentors spoke of taking pride in knowing that they could help a novice teacher want to stay in the field of sp ecial education, therefore, helping to retain good teachers. For these six mentors, mentor ing was important and helped define them as good teachers, good mentors, and strong advo cates. A few of the mentors felt that
122 mentoring was a journey for them and they beli eved that they too developed as teachers and as mentors. Through the responses of these six mentors, the study concludes that mentoring does indeed affect the mentor. Fo r these six mentors the effect is clearly perceived as positive and beneficial. Mentoring programs should attempt to es tablish strong mentor relationships between mentors and mentees. Through the es tablishment of strong mentoring programs, counties and schools will be able to positivel y affect the lives of many novice teachers, many veteran teachers and more importantly, the lives of many students who would benefit from having the best teacher in their classroom. This study revealed feelings of self-worth in the mentors. Many said that having someone ask their opinion on this subject gave them a voice in an arena they had not been given before. They expressed their desi re to be a part of the study because they wanted to make the mentoring program in the county better. They wanted to participate because no one had ever asked their opinion on such matters before and they wanted to help new teachers and mentors benefit from their experiences as mentors. While every mentor and mentee relationship is different, many of the mentors interviewed for this study expressed the belief that what they had to say was important and could help establish a stronger desire help the novice teacher. The perceptions of the researcher str ongly match those of the mentors in this study. It was obvious that these mentors we re committed mentoring and could be strong advocates for their county. The caliber of the mentors in the study is evident through their responses and commitment to mentor ing. They could be a strong foundation of mentors to build upon. The perceptions of the re searcher are that these mentors should be
123 given a voice and guided to become proactive in the mentoring program to help establish guidelines and assessment to be used with mentors. Their expertise, commitment and desire to help new teachers could be used to enhance the mentoring programs in the county.
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137 Appendix 1: Local County SchoolsÂ’ Mentoring Program The mentors will be teachers in Possib le County with a range of teaching and mentoring experiences. There are approxima tely 1950 mentors in Possible County. Mentors will be asked a series of questions from the interv iew list in three sessions. The first interview will aim at understanding the me ntorÂ’s personal history of mentoring. The purpose of the second interview is to ascertain sp ecific details of their understanding of the mentor process. In the third intervie w, the mentor will be asked to reflect on the meaning of the mentoring process as it relate s to their own values and beliefs about the psychology of professional development. The interview process, as suggested by Seidman, is expected to be iterative with th e mentor's reflections in each session, building on the previous session. The mentors will have all gone through mentor training, in order to be able to work with a beginning teacher in Possible County. Possible County has established many mentoring programs to assist new teach ers and recently has begun a program that will have selected mentors acting as liaisons between the schools and the county, in order to provide support for the new teachers and mentors. Teachers are required to take a Clinical Education class in order to be properly prepared to work with beginning teachers. In Possible County, there are state-trained teachers who mentor those individuals who are coming in fr om other fields of study. Th ey are alternative teachers and the mentors who work with them are requi red to have special training to work with them. Possible also requires all mentors in the county to complete a mentor add on course.
138 Appendix 1: (Continued) Programs offers for mentors also includes a volunteer mentor training that helps increase mentoring skills and also help in working with non-education majors. The programs offered include overview of teachi ng and learning, PossibleÂ’s curriculum and support and classroom management. The pr ogram offering information on classroom management is called Go TAGS, Â“Getting Off to a Good Start: The First Three Days of School!!Â” With the support from the county an d administrators of all schools, Possible County mentor programs feel that all schools, mentors, teachers and students will benefit from this supportive environment. It is hope d that this will allow for preparation and retention of teachers. Last year, there we re 800-900 new hires in Possible County. Some of these new teachers hired were re-appointment s from the previous year. In Florida, 4547% of new teachers leave within the first five years they are hired, 33% leave in the first three years. This pattern is seen in Possi ble, as well. One al ternative certification program in Possible, in its third year, offers support for non-education teachers. Through this program, the statistics showed 85% rete ntion of the teachers who participated. Those who left teaching did so because of transfer maternity leave or moving away from the area. Such programs can help this count y build a strong founda tion of teachers and mentors. The mentors who work with these non-al ternative teachers through a competencybased program are national board certified teach ers. They, along with the site-based and district-based mentors, help the new teachers adjust to all aspects of teaching and school dynamics.
139 Appendix 1: (Continued) The policy for new teachers in Possible is th at all new hires get district support. Â“All new teachers will receive district and school support and will participate in district and school induction activities. Teachers in their first year of teaching receive mentor support. Teachers required to demonstrate mastery of competencies receive buildinglevel administrator support.Â” (Possible County Induction Program Sequence of Events) If an administrator feels a teacher needs support, they can ask the district to allow this teacher to receive a mentor. The county also conducted a pilot with St. Petersburg College that provided mentors with leave time to work on clinical s upervision to help them improve their skills for working with new teachers. A mentor lia ison role was established in each school to support all beginning teachers and any teacher who seeks help with school situations. The program also facilitates communication with the county and enables the county to provide training and support to all mentors. Basic educators, special education teachers, and alternative certification teachers are also provided with mentors. The purpose of the program is to help the county retain good t eachers and therefore strengthen the abilities and knowledge of all students. While Possible County offers a good deal of support to mentees and mentors in its schools, the biggest concern which faces them is the accountability factor. It is the goal of the county to assure that mentoring is more equitable for all teachers/mentees. It is hoped that the programs will become more struct ured, with stronger expectations so that all mentors and mentees receive the appropriate level of mentoring and instruction. It is
140 Appendix 1: (Continued) hoped that the information garnered from this study, will the county in its endeavor to establish well-planned and e quitable mentoring programs.
141 Appendix 2: Informed Consent Statement The Possible County Public Schools str ongly support the mentoring process and programs for mentors in the c ounty. Many programs and pilots have been established to help support the mentee in many aspects of their induction into the school setting. Mentors play a large part in this induction. To learn more about how the mentor feels about their role as mentors, several exemplar y teachers have been selected to participate in several interview sessions that will he lp the researcher understand the mentorÂ’s progress through the mentoring process. Th e project you are being asked to participate in will reflect on Â“The Effects of Mentoring on the MentorÂ”. The purpose of this project is to understand how mentors are affected by mentoring novice teachers. The research hol ds the potential for improving training for mentors, helping you reflect on and improve your own mentoring, and for development of data-driven approaches to recruiting teachers to become mentors. If you choose to participate in the pr oject, you will participate in the three interview sessions, each of which will last approximately 90 minutes. On session will cover the historical facts of your own mentoring. The second session will establish details about your perception and understandi ng of the mentoring process and the third session will reflect on your meaning of ment oring and how it has affected you as a teacher and individual. The researcher will record each interview session by audiotape so as to not lose valuable information by forgetting content. The recording will be transcribed by the researcher. Written transcripts of the interview may be reviewed by members of the
142 Appendix 2: (Continued) researcherÂ’s doctoral committee at the Un iversity of South Florida; however, no information that might be used to identif y any individual will be included in the transcript. There are no known risks to participating in this research. You are free to choose to pa rticipate in the study or not participate in the study. By giving your written consent to participate in this interview pro cess, you are consenting (a) to be interviewed, (b) to provide releva nt information on your mentoring experiences and (c) to judge the credibility of th e projectÂ’s findings and outcomes. Your privacy and research records will be kept confidential to the extent of the law. Authorized research personnel, employ ees of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the USF Institutional Review Board may inspect the records from this research project. The results of this study may be published. However, the data obtained from you will be combined from data from others in the publication. Names of participating individuals will be kept confid ential and will not be used in any written reports about the project. A copy of this c onsent statement is being provided for you to keep. Each participant may withdraw consen t at any time. Should you decide to withdraw, please notify Mari a Angeliadis, Interview C oordinator, at 727-93*-**** or 727-50*-****. Please remember that your pa rticipation is solic ited, but strictly voluntary. If you have concerns about the st udy or participation in it, please donÂ’t hesitate to ask questions. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Maria Angeliadis, EdS
143 Appendix 2: (Continued) Consent to Participate and Be Quoted Having read and understood the attached Info rmed Consent Statement and the material below, I agree to participate in the intervie w project and to be quot ed.* I also understand that I have the right to read the interv iew, as it is used in the project. __________________________________________________ Signature of Participant Date *Consent to be Â“quotedÂ” means that I agr ee that the information I provide during an interview may be quoted in writing, but that my name will not be attributed to what is said. In addition, I consent to having my ro le as mentor stated in connection with the quotation.
144 Appendix 3: Interview Questions Interview One: (focused on history) 1. Why did you become a mentor? Descri be your own history as a mentor. 2. Was there anything in your own experi ences in elementary, middle, high or college schooling that encourag ed you to become a mentor? 3. Discuss events or experiences during your own school life that may have lead you to becoming a mentor. 4. As a mentee yourself, did any events encourage you to become a mentor. The items listed above partially addre ss the following research questions: Research Question 1: In what ways do mentors report undergoi ng a discernable developmental process based on experience in mentoring other teachers? Research Question 5: Does the mentor believe mentoring ch anges his/her beliefs and/or values? Interview Two: (giving details) 1. What is it like to be a mentor? 2. What characteristics do you feel an effective mentor should possess? 3. Describe your best day as a mentor. 4. Explain your most trying or difficult day as a mentor. 5. Has the context in which you mentor or work facilitated or impeded your effectiveness as a mentor? Explain. 6. How has mentoring influenced your beliefs and values? Have they changed?
145 Appendix 3: (Continued) 7. What training strategies w ould most benefit a mentor? 8. Did your mentor training define speci fic mentor goals and roles to be followed? 9. How should the mentoring process be m onitored to determine if the goals of mentoring are met? 10. Has mentoring motivated you to advance your own professional education? Explain. 11. Has mentoring prompted you to advo cate for educational values and conditions? Explain. The items listed above partially addr ess the following research questions: Research Question 1: Do mentors report undergoing a discer nable developmental process based on experience in mentoring other teachers? Research Question 2: How does mentoring affect the mento rÂ’s experience and perception of job satisfaction, sense of efficacy, and commitment to the education profession? Research Question 3: How are mentoring affect the ment orÂ’s perceptions of his/her own teaching and sense of professionalism in his/her own classroom?
146 Appendix 3: (Continued) Research Question 4: What contexts and supports do ment ors see as most important to successful mentoring? Research Question 5: Does the mentor believe mentoring ch anges his/her beliefs and /or values? Interview Three: (reflecti ng on the meaning of your experience as a mentor) 1. What does mentoring mean to you? 2. Do you believe mentoring has made you a better teacher? Explain. 3. Has mentoring changed your beha vior as a teacher? Explain. 4. Do you believe you are a good mentor? Explain. 5. Is your work or experience as a mentor satisfying for you? 6. If you could speak to all mentors in our county, what are the three most important things about mentori ng you would want them to know? The items listed above partially addre ss the following research questions: Research Question 2: How does mentoring affect the mento rÂ’s experience and perception of job satisfaction, sense of efficacy, and commitment to the education profession? Research Question 3: How are mentoring affect the ment orÂ’s perceptions of his/her own teaching and sense of professionalism in his/her own classroom?
147 Appendix 3: (Continued) Research Question 4: What contexts and supports do ment ors see as most important to successful mentoring? Research Question 5: Does the mentor believe mentoring ch anges his/her beliefs and /or values?
148 Appendix 4: Defining Rules 1. Mentor roles/ Being a mentor means: Responsibilities a mentor has assumed when working with a mentee. What mentoring actually means to the mentor. This definiti on also deals with what the mentor thinks mentoring means. How does the mentor define what mentoring means? Mentoring means to be able to : Â“Communicate that youÂ’ve been there and that you will be able to get past that firs t year and youÂ’ll look back on it someday and reali ze that, Â‘Yes, it was hard but it was doable and that you got thr ough it.Â’ Because knowing that other people feel the same way is, to me, personally, a wonderful thing.Â” Â“ItÂ’s very difficult because itÂ’s a realÂ…because itÂ’s elementaryÂ…IÂ’m developing somebody who I think I see progress made. So I know whatÂ’s good right now.Â” Â“I think itÂ’s very, very importa nt. I think it could make the difference between a teacher remaining in the field or not.Â” Â“ Well I think you want to make su re that you show her everything in exactly the way itÂ’s supposed to be. Cro ss your tÂ’s and dot your iÂ’s because you want to show her the rightÂ…how do things properly. WhatÂ’s expected.Â” Â“Â….really I think I am more of a person that she can talk to.Â”
149 Appendix 4: (Continued) 2. Mentor development/ Self-efficacy: Areas that the mentor viewed or recogni zed as growth in their own role as a teacher, mentor, or colleague, which may have resulted from the process of mentoring and working with mentees. Self-efficacy deal s with statements that relate to how mentoring helped the mentor gain self-worth and growth as a mentor and teacher. Â“I feel very worthwhile that some one would ask me to do it. And I think it is a compliment if some one asks you, feels that you are that capable that youÂ’d be able to instruct someone else. Â“Â… to some extent I think a lot of it is things that I was doing informally before, but not on a regular basis and then you go to class and you become trained and you become officially assigned. So, yeah, I think it has developed, if nothing else, then just the fact that itÂ’s just official at one point. Not that you donÂ’t want to help the other people, but I th ink itÂ’s more casual.Â” 3. Mentor satisfaction & Job satisfaction: These are statements that relate to how mentoring has an impact on how the mentor views their own job satisfaction. Are they happy in their own school and placement as a teacher? Are they happy with the school environment and colleague interaction?
150 Appendix 4: (Continued) There are also statements that indicate that mentoring helped the mentor feel satisfied with their role as a mentor, as well as, satisfaction with how they mentor and in achieving their personal goa ls and expectations. Â“I think itÂ’s a positive. I mean IÂ’ve always like I said IÂ’ve always thought about wanting to do more as far as being a teacher leader type of person so I think that gives me a little more satisfaction just knowing that IÂ’m there to help people not just with the kids but also the adults.Â” Â“ Well itÂ’s a nice way to feel like you Â’re helping teachers officially kind of feel youÂ’re counted on, on things outside the ordinary which is good, so I think itÂ’s rewardingÂ…Â” 4. Program problems/county fix/Mentors meeting (aspects of the mentoring program the county can remedy) : Mentors expressed concerns with the county training of mentors. Suggestions as to how the county can improve the mentoring process for the mentor and mentee were discussed. What problems are there with county program and what suggestions are gi ven? What should the county do or implement to make the mentoring program be tter? Mentor meetings relate to the ideas the mentors suggested in order to meet to discuss their experiences as a mentor and concerns about their responsibilities with mentees.
151 Appendix 4: (Continued) Mentors meeting allows them to talk to other mentors-discuss concerns and give suggestions about mentoring. Â“We donÂ’t meet, I think we should. We met one time this year, all the mentors, yeah and it really wa s just an informational, you need go give me a log so I can send it somewhere.Â” Â“Well IÂ’d definitely tell them to be open minded and flexible maybe thatÂ’s two different ones weÂ’ll use it as one ju st be open and flexible about the way you think about things cause othe r people donÂ’t always do it the same way.Â” Â“The only thing I would criticize abou t the program is that there is no time. I think there definitely needs to be more help for the mentors.Â” Â“More getting together, more e mail, more this is a good article, you know, any of that stuff.Â” 5. Mentor Efforts to Promote Self-Esteem: Self-esteem refers to how the mentor attempts to help the mentee feel better about themselves and how they are de veloping as a teacher that first crucial year. Â“ I think the support and just knowing th at person is there and is on your side and is going to be there to lis ten to you whether itÂ’s about you know: Â“I really canÂ’t stand the kids screaming today.Â”
152 Appendix 4: (Continued) Â“I just like sat there and she we nt through it and you know if there was anything really important I would say something, but she did a good job and after I told her, I said, you did a fantastic job. I said for the 1st time you would never know you were a new teacher.Â” 6. Mentoring influence/impact/ Retain good teachers: How has mentoring influenced/impacted th e mentor in educational situations? How can mentoring assist in retaining teach ers into the education field? Many new teachers leave the field of education and ment ors feel the frustration of not knowing what to do. Mentoring can help the new t eacher wish to stay in teaching. Â“Â…mentoring is a very positive thing and the impact that you can make making someone feel accomplished at the end of the first ye ar is just there is no way to measure that.Â” Â“I think the impact is in knowing that they have somebody to talk to and you know hopefully thatÂ’s something th at makes them more secure in what they are doing to.Â” Â“So I think itÂ’s really a crucial step in retaining teachers. To give that them that support and remind them th at Rome wasnÂ’t built in a day.Â”
153 Appendix 4: (Continued) Â“Oh weÂ’re losing teachers across the board. I absolutely think that mentoring would help that just you know even if itÂ’s just so much as a person to reality check now and then.Â” 7. Investment & Professional Advancement: What has mentor put into mentoring and personal development in their education and in their level of helping? How has me ntoring benefited the me ntor? Has mentoring encouraged the mentor to advance in their own professional goals or encouraged mentor to become an advocate for the mentee and education? Â“IÂ’ve invested personally a lot into the education field. I have two MasterÂ’s one that IÂ’m not even us ing. Compared to other things IÂ’ve done, I donÂ’t think this was a huge investment. I enjoyed it.Â” Â“Yes. When you stop and realize how litt le to nil that they know and then you realize that I was like that a nd look how much IÂ’ve had to learn by experience. Yes, absolutely. At th at point you say, Â“Wow I learned a lot over the years.Â” Â“Yeah, has geared you towards wanti ng to advance your own professional career.Â” Â“I think thatÂ’s probably the bi ggest Â‘ahaÂ’ what I just said I just thought of that that if nothi ng else it probably keeps the fire stoked at least a little bit caus e it gives you more buy in it gives you more something to think about.Â”
154 Appendix 4: (Continued) 8. Beliefs and values/Advocacy: Have beliefs and values changed due to th e involvement with mentoring? Beliefs and values are the mentorÂ’s understanding of wh at they belief in and what values they hold as important as to who they are and wh at they believe in. The mentors perceived being an advocate as someone who is willing to speak for the mentee when the need arises. An advocate acts as a Â‘sounding board Â’ for the mentee. An advocate supports and encourages the mentee throughout th eir first year and after. Â“Well the number one thing is that you have to be sincere and love children. And if you donÂ’t have that then you donÂ’t belong there.Â” Â“No. I think my values are my values and because IÂ’m mentoring does not change the way I feel about anythin g, you know? IÂ’m like seeing it from a different aspect but it doesnÂ’t change my values.Â” Â“No. The values were there they have just been highlighted.Â” Â“Well I do try and be open-minded, I like to think I was before, but now I definitely am.Â” Â“So advocacy, your advocacy falls in the line of whatÂ’s good for the children. The importance of advocacy a nd actually I was able to help...Â” Â“If thatÂ’s what education is coming to, which probably it is, where we donÂ’t want to pull kids out, and then those teachers are going to need somebody to help them get along.Â” Â“You know, IÂ’m a mentor. Are you w illing to help the next person who we hire?Â”
155 Appendix 4: (Continued) Â“I guess a matter of becoming familiar with maybe who they could turn to.Â” Â“I think you have to be an advocate, you have to know what needs to be done and being the person whoÂ’s helping the ones coming in, youÂ’re the one who can speak logically and be able to say, you know, this person needs this, or we need this and try to make it betterÂ…Â” Â“A first year teacher should not have been put into that position and I would have been her advocateÂ…Â” 9. Proximity/Time: Does the place where a mentor assists the mentee make a difference? Is on site better than off site of the prim ary campus? Mentors also voiced a concern about time to spend with mentors is heard throughout many of the mentor interviews. Mentors need to have ti me given to them to adequately meet menteesÂ’ needs. Â“But time is the biggest obstacle overa ll because itÂ’s just not enough of it. They could try to improve it by scheduling maybe planning periods together or building in something to make it even more successful.Â” Â“Time is really important. How can you do it successfully if youÂ’re not given time?Â”
156 Appendix 4: (Continued) Â“Wow, I would think to have time w ithin a day that you feel like your not rushing your not rushing from your cla ssroom to that classroom back to this classroom and that youÂ’re leaving the kids.Â” Â“I think itÂ’s much more helpful to be on site.Â” Â“I think that people that are mentor s that had to travel to another school would find it more convenient and more satisfying to being at the same school as opposed to driving someplace. Also, if there is an issue that the mentee wants to talk about from the faculty meeting you can identify with it much more because you were at the same meeting.Â” Â“Only that youÂ’re getting a differe nt perspective. Because maybe you have different administrato rs or different policies. Ummm, there could be some advantages. Ideas from whatÂ’s happening at another school how they solve problems.Â” (advantage to off site) : Â“I think they need to really do a better job on matching you. If youÂ’re on a team, or if youÂ’re in the same building, or just even the same proximity. Logi stically, if IÂ’m next door to you, IÂ’m going to stop in and see you more often than if IÂ’m across the building, you know?Â” Â“Probably, just time wise, flexibility wise. I can go into the class any time. I can observe if they need me to observe without worrying about covering my class. I can do things that need to be done.Â”
157 Appendix 4: (Continued) 10. Support/lack of support, No help/no mentor: Does the mentor feel that the admini stration is supportive of the mentoring position? Are colleagues and the county suppor tive? Many of the mentors did not have their own mentor to help them. Most of th em mentioned their desi re to mentor because of this. Â“There were no people assigned to me. I was just like put in a building by myself and the other ESE teachers were across the campus and it was almost like swim or sink.Â” Â“There should be someone helping ne w people. And so I decided to, you know, that what kind of made me do it (want to mentor) because I never had one and I thought that someone should be doing something.Â” Â“There was no mentor. There was no help. It was Â‘fly by the seat of your pantsÂ’.Â” Â“I had no mentor.Â” Support for the mentee I think, itÂ’s like anything. Time to give to them that youÂ’re not having to take care of your own stuff; I think that probably one of the biggest things. You donÂ’t ge t a break from your stuff to go help them and I think that would be one of the biggest supports, being near by would help, would help you to support them. Supports for mentors, getting together with other mentors and saying how do you do it at your school.Â”
158 Appendix 4: (Continued) Â“I have always had positive relationships and I think that is one of the keys to staying and having a team around you.Â” 11. Mentor characteristics, Mentor Needs & Help: What characteristics are found in an eff ective mentor? What is the mentorÂ’s history as far as school is concerned and what characteri stics does a mentor need to mentor? This refers to the desire of the mentors to help new people to adjust into the school community and to help them progress to their fullest abilities. Many mentors feel that since they were or were not helped, th ey have the desire and need to help new teachers. What characteristics does a mentee n eed in order to be successful in that first year and working with mentors and others in school? This theme deals with what mentors feel they need to be good mentors. Â“Keep your sense of humor. And itÂ’ s hard sometimes, especially with difficult populations. But I think that reminding the mentor that this too shall passÂ…itÂ’s a part of life and not the end of the world. Â“Â…just communicating that itÂ’s a safe environment.Â” Â“I became a mentor because as an ESE teacher you are cons tantly helping each otherÂ…Â” Â“Well anyway, the thing is, how do you say Â‘noÂ’ when youÂ’re out to help somebody. Exactly, yes thatÂ’s absolute ly true when you know that no one else is really out there yo u say, Â“Okay IÂ’ll do it.Â” Â“I think when you are helping someone else do something then you think about what youÂ’re doing, itÂ’s easy to tell somebody that you should be
159 Appendix 4: (Continued) doing this and then you think, am I doing this? So I think it makes you think more and hopefully youÂ’re following your own advice.Â” Â“Somebody thatÂ’s willing to have a mentor.Â” Â“Â…she also has no education background. I think that has a big hindrance. I think if you have somebody that has education background or even worked in a school system or so mething but when youÂ’re coming and youÂ’ve never been in a school or ta ken any background then I think itÂ’s kind of overwhelming.Â” Â“Well professionalism, obviously, because learning something in theory and actually doing it are tw o different things.Â” Â“Be fair. I mean, you give advice a nd itÂ’s not taken, donÂ’t feel offended. Because I would always say you might want to try. IÂ’d never say do this or do that or come in with this. Or I would say, "I used to do this." You might want toÂ… It was a conversation. ItÂ’s not like dictating words or she did try it and didnÂ’t like it. Just be fair and remember how it was for you.Â” Mentor should be: Â“Definitely, kind of open, open to different kinds of people because everyone is not going to be exactly what you hoped them to be or what you think.Â” Â“I think you have to be open, you have to be honest, you have to be willing to do this, you know put the time in whatever they need different people need different amounts of time.Â”
160 Appendix 4: (Continued) Â“I think you need to be very open an d willing to except that thereÂ’s things you donÂ’t know.Â” Â“I think itÂ’s very im portant to be patient open make yourself available supportive definitely need to be there to just encourage the person.Â” Â“So you need to keep on task with it. I think mentoring helps you keep focused. I think it kind of keeps you involved in the day to day things. It kind of keeps you invigora ted a little bit becaus e youÂ’re working with younger people or at least newer people to the whole idea of teaching and being in classrooms. So it kind of reminds you of what it was like and then it kind of it keeps you going too because you remember that it was tough and you want to give them every advantage.Â” 12. Experience: Experience refers to the experience of the mentor in the field of education. This could be based on the amount of years taught and educational traini ng, as well as years served as a mentor. Â“When I was in college, going for my b achelors, I was a mentor in writing for another student who was a young gi rl who was really, really good in math, but her English skills were not so wonderful and your ability to pass in that college was totally based on writing. There were no, you know, scan sheets or anything like that, so I helped her.Â”
161 Appendix 4: (Continued) 13. Goals/expectations: Goals and expectations are th e situations that the mentor and/or the mentee expect from each other. There are things the me ntor expects of the mentee and the mentee expects from the mentor, such as help in learning about the school, academic lessons to understand and time in which to work together. The mentor, in turn, expects the mentee to be willing to work with the mentor and to be committed to the classroom and school. Â“I donÂ’t have the exact words, but my goal is to effectively mentor a brand new teacher by showing her xyz and including learning strategiesÂ…Â” Â“I just think you need to almost be able to say, Â“So am I doing enough, good enough?Â” Almost ask someone else, Â“What are you doing, what do you think, should we be meeting more, should we be sitting in their classroom?Â” Â“Make sure they get their questions answered make sure that they have you as a back up type of deal.Â” 14. Informal Mentor: An informal mentor is someone who is not formally assigned to a mentee, but someone who helps the new teacher anyway. Of ten this is an individual who is on the same team or has befriended the new teacher Â“Â…when I was in college, going for my bachelors I was a mentor in writing for another student, who was a young girl, who was really, really
162 Appendix 4: (Continued) good in math, but her English skills were not so wonderful and your ability to pass in that college was to tally based on writing. There were no you know scan sheets or anything lik e that so I helped her.Â” Â“We did help her, you know, you couldnÂ’t not to help her. You felt so bad. So, we were helping her and ye t her mentor who was supposed to be helping her, did to some extent, but didnÂ’t almost know the extent to how much she was suffering, as we did.Â” Â“I like to make myself available to the person, just for general questions and answers, but also seek the actual mentee, when thereÂ’s something that I know is coming up.Â” 14. Length of mentoring: This refers to the amount of time ment oring should occur. Ordinarily, a new teacher is assigned a mentor for a full school year. There are occasions when the mentor is assigned for an additional amount of time. Â“If she chooses to stay (in teaching) I would you recommend that she has a 2nd year with a mentor.Â” Â“I think, really, for the first couple of years because there is so much to it.Â” 15. Mentor Evaluation of Mentee & Mentee Evaluation of Mentor: The mentors stressed the importance of having an opportunity for the mentee to evaluate the mentor and for the mentor to be able to evaluate the mentee. Not in a
163 Appendix 4: (Continued) punitive way, but in a way where they were able to discuss the progress of the mentoring partnership. There should be something like a back and forth, where IÂ’m hearing, you know, Â“How are you doing, am I doing enough?Â” You know and even at the end of the year, they maybe they should evaluate it. An evaluation of the mentee of the mentor, and the mentor of the mentee. Right, and say she never showed up, she didnÂ’t do this. I mean we shouldnÂ’t have mentors out there who r eally donÂ’t want to do this. They are doing it, you know, for whatever itÂ’s for, but maybe an evaluation at the end of the semester or year would be helpful.Â” Â“I think the mentees should have to grade you.Â” Â“If only they had asked us. If only someone asks real teachers teachers who are actually still in the classroo m. Teachers who havenÂ’t forgotten what itÂ’s like and we are intelligent. We have good ideas. We need to be asked.Â” 16. Motivation/ Always wanted to be teacher: What motivated the mentor to become a mentor? This refers to the reason why mentors selected to become mentors. The mentor stressed the desire to become an educator early on in their lives and from th e time they thought of a career choice.
164 Appendix 4: (Continued) Â“I was one those people who always wanted to be a teacher, you know. ThatÂ’s what I played when I was a lit tle kid and I was just always going to be a teacher and I guess that whole Â‘wanting to helpÂ’, you know, you donÂ’t only want to help the kids, the n, you want to help the teachersÂ…Â” Â“I was one those people who always wa nted to be a teacher, you know. ThatÂ’s what I played when I was a little kidÂ…Â” Â“IÂ’m sure that there were a lot of experiences where someone helped me and I was grateful and you know kind of like Â‘pay it forwardÂ’ type of thing. But to think of specific time when I can said Â“Oh, wow!Â” that may have made me think about mentoring.Â” Â“No, I probably didnÂ’t know what mentoring was. I just liked helping each other out.Â” Â“And so he, you know, he made all the difference, like he could tell me something and in a day I could change what I was doing while at work. So maybe that, you know, knowing that one teacher could change so much and the other teacher can really affect it. So maybe somewhere along the way maybe I wanted to be like that second one (teacher).Â” Â“Well, probably, my history of work made me do it.Â” (mentor)
165 Appendix 4: (Continued) 17. Paperwork: A complaint for most mentors and teachers is that there is entirely too much paperwork to deal with that becomes overwhe lming for everyone, especially first year teachers. Â“Paperwork was not easy. I did it a ll, but I didnÂ’t lik e it and I struggled with it and so did she of course. I didnÂ’t know everything and I think I just didnÂ’t pretend I knew it. Oh, my gosh, I donÂ’t know. I told her, Â“WeÂ’ll figure that outÂ”, and she was just happy to hear that someone who was just like telling he r it was okay to be frustrated and confused.Â” Â“It was always like she just didnÂ’t know what she was doing and a lot of it was the paperwork. A lot of it wa s the paperwork and so we would be staying after to do our paperwork. Then you had to stop yours and help her.Â” Â“And then on top of that, we get to do hours upon hours, upon hours, upon hours of paperwork for basically no extra compensation with very little help and with a constant ad ministrator or somebody telling you, Â‘Oh, they just changed that. YouÂ’ve got to do it this way and then go back and do that, but yet you donÂ’t ge t any more time to go fix it, but maybe you have an hour and a half to do IEPs. It almost took you about seven or eight hours!Â”
166 Appendix 4: (Continued) 18. Placement/ Matching mentee/mentor: This theme refers to the logistical prox imity of the mentee and mentor. Often, the mentor is not on the same team or in the same area as the mentee and this can add to the difficulty in meeting to help. This definiti on is also in reference to how well the mentor and mentee fit together as a team or partners hip. The mentors discu ssed the necessity to be sure that the county do a better job of placing and matching mentees with the correct teacher and matched the placement better. Â“And her philosophy wasnÂ’t that different from mine to begin with. That was one reason why I thought it was a good match when they asked me to do it.Â” Â“Oh, I think the fact that sheÂ’s right ne xt door is a good thing. ItÂ’s not like sheÂ’s at another side of the school I can pretty much hear whatÂ’s going on when it gets a little tense.Â” Â“I think logistically, where you are pl aced is important. You have to be near them. You just have to be. I wa s in a very big school, my mentee? That was another thing. We didnÂ’t have the same planning; we didnÂ’t have the same lunch, so you always had to get together after school. That means this person is probably staying a lot anyway, getting their stuff together, now they have to stay to get some help, you know.Â”
167 Appendix 4: (Continued) 19. Training/compensation: This refers to the training the ment or received through th e county to become a mentor, as well as, the compensation a mentor receives to be a mentor. Â“I took a clinical cour se through _____ County, which you are required to do in order to become a mentor.Â” Â“I became a mentor because I was asked to become a mentor and I had taken the clinical ed. part of it. I wa s very gung ho when I first went. You need I think 60 credits to recertify and service cr edits and then IÂ’m not sure if you need another 60 for anothe r certification, but within the first five years I had 400 and something without my college courses. So I was like basically taking everyt hing that interested me and mentoring was one of those things I wanted to utilize my skills.Â” Â“I think more ongoing, I took a class for a couple of days and that was like okay go ahead. So really I could be doing nothing or I could be doing an amazing amount and I really think there should be accountability too.Â” Â“Or not a, you know, thereÂ’s nothin g that says these are your specific responsibilities, but there probably is itÂ’s a big manual.Â”(county manual on mentoring) Â“I donÂ’t remember specific training enough to say that I donÂ’t think it could ever hurt to have more support you know.Â” Â“I took the professional test in the beginning.Â”
168 Appendix 4: (Continued) Â“I mean I donÂ’t know what the county can do about that unless theyÂ’re going to put more money into it. When I mentored in Colorado, I got $600-700. So it was a huge difference and you know that tends to motivate people because I guess money talks, but you know to me, there was not a money value on what you could do to help somebody.Â” Â“I donÂ’t think anybodyÂ’s doing this fo r money. So if you knew that you were going to be given timeÂ…now I guess if you had 2 and 3 mentees thenÂ…but maybe they would get more people to do it if they knew it wasnÂ’t on their own time. I think people might be more willing to take the time. That would be something you could plan for.Â”
About the Author Maria Angeliadis received a Bachelor Â’s Degree from Youngstown State University in 1981 and a M. S. in Special Education from Youngstown State University in 1983. She started teaching while in the Ma sterÂ’s program. After moving back to Florida in 1987, she taught Sp ecial Education and formed an inclusion classroom for students with emotional handicaps in the public schools in Pasco C ounty. She began an Ed.D. program at the Univer sity of South Florida. While in the Ed.D. program at the Univers ity of South Florida, she was an adjunct professor for the University for 5 years. Sh e now serves as an adjunct professor in the Special Education Department at St. Petersbu rg College. She teaches education courses dealing with curriculum and instruction, as well as character education in the public schools.