Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

University Faculty, Colleagues and Teachers' Federation as Mentors in Collaborative Action Research/les Membres D'une Faculté, Les Collègues et Une Fédération D'enseignement Comme Mentors Dans Une Action De Recherche Collaborative

Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

University Faculty, Colleagues and Teachers' Federation as Mentors in Collaborative Action Research/les Membres D'une Faculté, Les Collègues et Une Fédération D'enseignement Comme Mentors Dans Une Action De Recherche Collaborative

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT. This research reports on collaborative research projects supported by a teachers' federation. We compare research teams involved in the first year of the project, where they had free choice of research purposes with those in the second year who had the subject area defined for them. University faculty, teachers' colleagues, and the teachers' federation served as mentors for participating teachers. The action research resulted in change in teachers' practice and in the development of leadership skills.

LES MEMBRES D'UNE FACULTÉ, LES COLLÈGUES ET UNE FÉDÉRATION D'ENSEIGNEMENT COMME MENTORS DANS UNEACTION DE RECHERCHE COLLABORATIVE

RÉSUMÉ. Cet article fait le compte-rendu de projets de recherche collaborative soutenus par une fédération d'enseignants. Nous y comparons l'expérience de l'équipe de chercheurs impliqués dans la première année du projet - lesquels ont eu libre choix quant à leurs objectifs de recherche - à celle de la seconde cohorte de chercheurs, devant travailler avec des objectifs déjà définis. Des membres de la faculté universitaire, des collègues enseignants ainsi que la fédération des enseignants ont agi à titre de mentors auprès des participants. L'action de recherche a eu pour résultantes des changements de la pratique enseignante et le développement d'habiletés de leadership.

In much of the research on mentoring teachers to improve professional practice, the mentors have been associate teachers or instructors of teacher education courses working with teacher candidates in university teacher education courses or practicum settings (e.g., Cherian, 2007; Feiman-Nemser, 2001; McCann & Johannessen, 2009; Walkington, 2005; Wang & Odell, 2002). The goals of these mentoring efforts have primarily been to foster and maintain teacher candidates' positive views toward teaching and of themselves as teachers, and to help teacher candidates adapt to school culture and norms of teaching. Underpinned by social constructivist theory (Bruner, 1990; Vygotsky, 1986), research on teacher mentoring is understood to involve a relationship between a more experienced teacher and a novice teacher. Through practices such as engaging in reflective, encouraging conversations on teaching experiences of both teachers and providing access to classroom-tested materials and teaching practices, mentors scaffold the beginning teacher's professional learning. Novice teachers' professional growth is enhanced not only through adding materials and instructional methods to their teaching repertoires, but more importantly, through opportunities to make sense of their experience and develop their own theories and principles of effective practice in the reflective conversations with mentors.

Research on the mentoring of experienced teachers suggests that "the professional development of teachers can be improved through experimentation, observation, reflection, the exchange of professional ideas, and shared problem-solving" (Zwart, Wubbels, Bergen, & Bolhuis, 2007, p. 167). These practices underpin a widely practiced and researched context for mentoring experienced teachers, peer coaching (Gottesman, 2000; Weasmer & Woods, 1999; Zwart, Wubbels, Bergen, & Bolhuis, 2007). Peer coaching generally takes the form of pairing two teachers to plan together to implement instructional methods that are new to them, or to refine practices that they would like to improve. The teachers serve alternately as teacher coach and coached teacher. The paired teachers may observe each other's teaching and then give each other feedback, or if their schedules do not permit them to observe in each other's classrooms, they may take time to reflect together on their own teaching and discuss ways to improve their teaching.

Peer coaching is an element of the mentoring relationships created between experienced teachers in the Teachers Learning Together (TLT) initiative on which this report is based. Our research adds to existing research by showing how peer coaching, together with the mentoring of university faculty and teachers' federation staff to support experienced teachers' collaborative action research, contributes to teachers' professional growth. …

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