Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Teacher Induction: Exploring Beginning Teacher Mentorship

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Teacher Induction: Exploring Beginning Teacher Mentorship

Article excerpt

Induction programs, including mentorship, serve to bridge the transition from preservice to in-service teaching. This study explored the mentorship experiences of Saskatchewan beginning teachers. Analysis of interviews identified three themes: assigned/unassigned mentors, engaged/disengaged mentors, and single/multiple mentors. One moderating theme also emerged: the compatibility of the mentor and beginning teacher. The combination of themes provides preliminary support for an alternative model of mentoring based on learning communities and founded on the concepts of strong and weak ties and the constructivist model of knowledge.

Key Words: theoretical model mentor relationship, multiple mentors, learning communities

Les programmes d'insertion professionnelle, dont les programmes de mentorat, servent a faciliter la transition entre la formation initiale a l'enseignement et la pratiqued' enseignement. Cette recherche porte sur les experiences de nouveaux enseignants en Saskatchewan. L'analyse des entrevues effectuees a permis d'identifier trois themes: mentors attitres/non attitres, mentors actifs/peu impliques et mentor unique/mentors multiples. Un autre theme entre egalement en ligne de compte : la compatibilite entre le mentor et le nouvel enseignant. La combinaison de ces themes fournit un cadre preliminaire pour un nouveau modele de mentorat axe sur des communautes d'apprentissage et fonde sur les concepts de liens etroits et faibles et le modele constructiviste du savoir.

Mots cles : modele theorique, relation au mentor, mentors multiples, communautes d'apprentissage


Despite being well prepared and committed to teaching, beginning teachers (BTs) are often disillusioned by their initiation into the teaching profession (Le Maistre, 2000; McPherson, 2000). The process of teacher induction attempts to bridge the transition from pre-service to in-service (Ingersoll & Smith, 2004). The most common and essential component of teacher induction is mentorship (Carver & Feiman-Nemser, 2008; Corbell, Reiman, & Nietfeld, 2008; Ingersoll & Smith, 2004; Schmidt, 2008). Designed to induce communication and development of skills among BTs, mentorship provides appropriate support and resources. Previous research has found that mentor support positively influences BT satisfaction in the teaching profession and workplace (Carter & Francis, 2001; Darling-Hammond, 2003). Depending upon jurisdiction, both formal and informal professional development and mentorship programs have been established, but few models of mentorship exist.

The province of Saskatchewan does not currently regulate a mandatory, formal teacher induction program. Mentorship policies, which are decentralized to each school division, are usually implemented at the school level at the discretion of the principal. To develop a theoretical model of mentorship and to explain the process of induction for Saskatchewan BTs, this study examined mentorship experiences from the perspective of 12 Saskatchewan BTs in their first classroom teaching position following graduation.


Scholars have suggested various models of career development for teachers (e.g., Berliner, 1988; Fuller & Brown, 1975). Stage theories propose that teachers progress through a linear continuum of developmental stages (e.g., Berliner, 1994) with the first two years of teaching commonly referred to as the time of survival (Huberman, 1989). Researchers have suggested that the experiences of BTs in the first years of teaching have long-term implications for teaching effectiveness, job satisfaction, and career length (Bartell, 2004). More recently, teaching career cycle models have extended stage theories to better represent the dynamic and diverse nature of BT experiences (Fessler, 1985; Huberman, 1992; Steffy, Wolfe, Pasch, & Enz, 2000). Career cycle theory recognizes that BT experiences are highly contextual, influenced by the broader society, the culture of the teaching profession, the nature of a teacher's work, school related factors, and the communities in which the schools are located (Lynn, 2005; Steffy et al. …

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