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Mentoring student teachers; a vulnerable workplace learning practice
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Dr Rachel Lofthouse
Lofthouse R, Thomas U
International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education
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The purpose of this research is to develop an understanding of mentoring as a workplace process. The mentees are post-graduate student teachers hosted in placement schools. The research aims to explore the experiences of key participants in a policy context where the role and scale of school-based teacher training is expanding rapidly. This is an interpretative case study of mentoring practices assigned to a secondary level initial teacher training partnership, with the mentors being subject teachers working in school departments which host post-graduate student teachers. The case study was investigated over two years and included focus groups, interviews, questionnaires and content analysis. Participants were student teachers, their mentors and both school-based and university-based tutors. Positive experiences of mentoring are not universal. Mentoring interacts with the required processes of monitoring and reporting, and in some cases the power structures associated with these processes conflict with the less performative aspects. However, when mentors are offered evidence of student teachers' perceptions and theoretical constructs of mentoring as practice they can start to recognise that it can be enhanced. The quality of mentoring in initial teacher education will take on even greater significance in jurisdictions, such as England, where the role of workplace learning is strengthened as a result of changes of government policy. The outcomes of this study will be relevant to policy makers, school-based mentors and system leaders for teacher education - whether school or university based.
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