Mentoring beliefs and values and their impact on the styles of mentoring

Your style of mentoring will be governed by the many motivations and sense of self already alluded to in the previous two sections. It should be said that the reason why such an emphasis has been placed upon your own understanding of who you are is because your role is pivotal in the development of a beginning teacher. Essentially, the beliefs and values you hold as a teacher and as a mentor determine very much the actions you take (Korthagen, 2004). This is illustrated through your reflections on the two Case studies below. Now read these two Case studies (2.1 and 2.2) and answer the guestions in Task 2.4 and 2.5.

Case study 2.1: Harry

Harry is a beginning teacher in his ITE year. He is placed in a school with a good reputation and he likes the department, the school and the people in his department. However, he is growing increasingly concerned about the feedback he is receiving from his mentor. Feedback is framed most often as 'I wouldn’t do it like that' and also 'I would do it like this, because I know it works'. Harry feels as if he is being asked to conform to a particular style of teaching that his mentor values, but one that he is less convinced by. Harry would prefer teaching to be more pupil focussed and less teacher directed. Harry shares this with his university tutor who asks Harry if he would like her to intervene on his behalf. Harry does not want the tutor to do this as he feels this may cause friction, which he is keen to avoid. It is this which has stopped him from raising his concerns directly with his mentor so far. After considerable reflection and conversations with his university tutor, Harry chooses to comply with the instructions coming from his mentor as he does not want to alienate his mentor or other staff in the department.

Task 2.4 Reflections on Case study 2.1: Harry

Answer the following guestions:

  • 1. How do you perceive this situation?
  • 2. What would you advise the mentor and Harry to do?
  • 3. How would you respond if you were in this position as a mentor?
  • 4. Are your values and beliefs so important that you would want to pass these onto a beginning teacher you mentor?

Case study 2.2: Razina

Razina was placed in a science department of over 12 full-time staff and a further four part-time staff in a large secondary school. It was a lively department full of teachers with differing experience. Her mentor was not one of the most experienced staff but had taught for a few years. Razina liked the messages she was getting from her university course, which championed an approach to assessment for learning based around a dialogue between the teacher and the pupils. There appeared to be no specific policy in the department about the way written feedback was given, only that there was an expectation that it occurred every two weeks. Razina initially thought this was a straightforward instruction for her. Razina was diligently responding to her pupils work in the manner she had interpreted; the 'two weeks' making her feedback relevant to the activities. Her mentor kept asking Razina to stick to written comments in a particular format, one on spelling, one on presentation and one for progress. Her mentor was insistent that this was how it was supposed to be done. Razina was becoming anxious as she was unsure about the 'best' way to provide written feedback, given the number of different perspectives she had been given and the structure reiterated by her mentor.

Task 2.5 Reflections on Case study 2.2: Razina

Answer the following questions:

  • 1. What do you think is happening in this Case?
  • 2. What extent do you think the mentor's actions are justified?
  • 3. What advice would you give Razina and how would you see this issue being resolved?

In your mentoring, the aim is to avoid what Bullough (2008, p. 70) described as 'becoming little more than a weak exercise in vocational socialisation', or supporting beginning teachers in becoming part of a group of others doing the same thing. What is commonly happening is that mentors in situations such as that experienced by Razina are re-enacting the status quo of the department as it already exists and asking beginning teachers to follow these norms (Jian Wang, Odell and Schwille, 2008). It would be useful to reflect on the extent to which you may do this when mentoring and what, if any, impact this may have on your relationship with a beginning teacher.

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