Academic journal article Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development

A Humanistic Approach to New Teacher Mentoring: A Counseling Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development

A Humanistic Approach to New Teacher Mentoring: A Counseling Perspective

Article excerpt

The authors explore the current state of teacher mentoring, asking the question, Has teacher mentoring evolved into a product economy/managed care, "prove it" mind-set? Humanistic concepts gleaned from counseling are proffered, highlighting the interpersonal relationship that exists between teacher mentor and mentee. Suggestions are provided for facilitating the personal development of the teacher mentee.

The evolving needs of society for quality education require the development of paradigms for teacher training and mentoring that keep pace with and anticipate how education will look in the decade ahead; the accompanying needs of those ever-evolving paradigms must also be considered. This is a daunting task, to say the least. In the rush to keep up, and perhaps to keep ahead of the demand, school systems have mandated new teacher mentor programs and have devised standards for measuring the success of students and of teacher training and mentor programs. There is certainly a need to focus on skills and the delivery of skills through competent teaching and to remediate when skills are lacking. As new paradigms are developed for teaching, training, and mentoring teachers now and in the future, there is also a need to consider the person of the teacher, the human instrument that parcels out the skills and knowledge associated with teaching. The humanistic, person-centered perspectives of counseling can help maintain the soul of teacher mentoring as it evolves to meet the needs of a changing society for well-trained teachers.


New teacher mentor programs are one of the most visible forms of systematic professional development for teachers in school districts across the United States. The exponential growth of mentor programs since their emergence more than 30 years ago has been well documented (Darling-Hammond & Sclan, 1996; Fideler & Haselkorn, 1999; Huling-Austin, 1990). Interest in new teacher mentor programs outside the United States is also very evident (e.g., the United Kingdom journal Mentoring & Tutoring; Britton, Paine, Primm, & Raizen, 2003; Martin & Trueax, 1997; McBain & George, 1995; Moskowitz & Stephens, 1997). The second author of the current article has assisted in providing mentor training for the Bermuda Teacher Induction Programme and is currently consulting with school districts in Sweden and Finland in designing, implementing, and evaluating new teacher mentor programs.

Teacher mentor programs have entered into a "second-generation" phase as experience with such programs deepens and the understanding of the interconnectedness of mentoring, teacher recruitment, retention, and development grows more sophisticated (Hare & Heap, 2001; National Foundation for the Improvement of Education, 1999). Although current programs have much in common with earlier prototypes, today's most effective programs proactively take into account several new trends, including (a) the growing prominence of many new types of "beginning" teachers, (b) an expansion of the "routes" leading to a teaching career, (c) the role of mentor programs in recruiting and retaining teachers, and (d) linking mentoring to licensure and standards (Ganser, 2002a, 2000b).

Mentor programs in the 1970s and 1980s were intended for the most common type of beginning teacher: young adults beginning their first career who had been prepared in traditional 4-year programs. Today, the proportion of beginning teachers who are older and changing their careers has increased dramatically (Feistritzer, 1999). Moreover, there is evidence that a growing portion of new teachers enter the field with the intention of leaving it after a few years. This includes both young adults who view teaching as a limited-time service opportunity before moving into another profession as well as older, retired adults who consider teaching as a service or a supplemental source of income (Peske, Liu, Johnson, Kauffman, & Kardos, 2001). …

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