Understanding Mentoring: Reflective Strategies for School-Based Teacher Preparation

Understanding Mentoring: Reflective Strategies for School-Based Teacher Preparation

Understanding Mentoring: Reflective Strategies for School-Based Teacher Preparation

Understanding Mentoring: Reflective Strategies for School-Based Teacher Preparation

Synopsis

The current move to school-based mentoring offers the possibility of considerable improvement over traditional arrangements for initial teacher preparation. But this opportunity will only be realized if old assumptions about theory and practice are modified and new practices based on a better understanding of ways in which effective teaching may be acquired. Starting from the assumption that practising teachers already possess many resources relevant to mentoring, Understanding Mentoring offers practical strategies and programmes for mentoring in the context of recent work on intelligent skill development, professional thinking and learning, counselling and helping strategies, and the nature and assessment of teaching competence. It should therefore be a useful resource for teachers taking on a mentoring role, and for those engaged in training and academic courses on school-based teacher education.

Excerpt

In a number of countries at present initial teacher preparation is undergoing an important transition from settings and systems dominated by separate, often higher education institutions (HEIs), to being situated much more in schools themselves. In Britain, at the time of writing, the government is requiring school-based initial teacher training (ITT) courses within schoolHEI partnerships in England and Wales and going beyond this to experiment with wholly school-centred arrangements. As usual, the Scots are taking a more thoughtful, experimental approach, Northern Ireland likewise, in a similar direction.

As with any major development in something as large and complex as an educational system, the current moves are recognized as posing both opportunities and challenges. Perhaps most significant is the widespread view that as a practical activity, teaching needs to be learned through engagement in the practice of teaching. There is evidence that this is the majority opinion of today's teachers, which they typically relate to their own university and college-based courses: 'you only really learned anything once you got into teaching practice'. Existing teachers are therefore tending to see school-based ITT courses as an opportunity to make teacher preparation more relevant and effective, and most teacher educators seem to concur with this. Teachers are also welcoming this development as a recognition of their professional competence and status.

On the other hand, apart from the crucial issue of adequate resourcing . . .

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