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First impressions do count: mentoring student teachers

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In 1992 plans were published for the reorganisation of secondary Initial Teacher Education (ITE) courses in England and Wales which increased the amount of time student teachers were to spend in schools. From 1994 two-thirds of a secondary Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course was to be school-based (i.e. 24 weeks in a 36-week course). One result of this was that school teacher mentors had a more substantial part to play in the initial professional development of student teachers. To assist them in this developing role, all higher education institutions developed training’ courses and support materials for mentors. Drawing upon evidence gathered during the development of mentor support materials within the University of Nottingham – Schools Partnership, this article argues that the student teacher needs to develop quickly a feeling of friendship with, and trust in, the mentor. The effectiveness of the mentor in familiarising and socialising the student teacher during the early days of school-based experience is crucial to the student teacher's acceptance of the mentor as a critical friend. Once this critical friendship has been established, the student teacher is likely to respond positively to constructive criticism and challenge, and be less inhibited by the assessment role of the mentor, thus creating a climate conducive to effective initial professional development.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Nottingham, United Kingdom

Publication date: March 1, 1997

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