Learning to mentor: unravelling routine practice to develop adaptive mentoring expertise
While studies have shown that mentoring is central to new teacher development, few investigations have examined what mentors learn about themselves as mentors. The purpose of the study was to illuminate mentor learning. The article reports on two case studies that investigated the development of mentoring expertise over a two-year period. During this period, the two mentor participants were engaged in a professional development intervention focused on fostering mentoring expertise. Data sources included transcribed professional conversations, interviews and action research documentation. Analysis of these data found that despite good intentions, mentors’ preconceptions of their role were difficult to change. Where substantive change was evident, there was a conceptual shift from a focus on mentee and student learning to include mentor learning. The study suggests that the development of mentor expertise is complex and cannot be assumed. The complexity associated with letting go of deeply ingrained beliefs and practices to develop mentoring expertise is illuminated in the dynamic interaction between the school context, the mentor’s preconceptions and re-conceptualisation of their role along with the on-going assessment of professional learning opportunities.
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