Mentors report on their own mentoring practices
There are only two ways to implement reform in an education system, namely through inservice education of existing teachers and preservice teacher education. Implementing the Australian Curriculum will require targeting both teachers and preservice teachers. Classroom teachers in their roles as mentors have a significant role to play for developing preservice teachers. What mentors do in their mentoring practices and what mentors think about mentoring will impact on the mentoring processes and ultimately reform outcomes. What are mentors’ reports on their mentoring of preservice teachers in science and mathematics? This mixed-method study presents mentors’ reports on their mentoring of primary preservice teachers (mentees) in mathematics (n=43) and science (n=29). Drawing upon a previously validated instrument (Hudson, 2007), this instrument was amended to allow mentors to report on their perceptions of their mentoring. A questionnaire elicited extended written responses that focused on: (1) the mentors’ rapport with their mentees, (2) successful mentoring strategies, (3) aspects that may lead the mentee to feel unsuccessful, and (4) ways to enhance their mentoring skills. Mentors claimed they mentored teaching mathematics more than science. However, 20% or more indicated they did not provide mentoring practices for 25 out of 34 survey items in the science and 9 out of 34 items in the mathematics. Educational reform will necessity mentors to be educated on effective mentoring practices so the mentoring process can be more purposeful. Indeed, mentors who have knowledge of such practices may address the potential issues of more than 20% of mentees not receiving these practices. These mentors also claimed that professional development on effective mentoring can enhance their skills. To ensure the greatest success for an Australian Curriculum will require targeting mentors for professional development in order to assist mentees’ development into the profession.