Towards making a difference through a university-TAFE partnership : mentoring potential teacher aides
Universities promote partnerships as an investment of social capital that may benefit communities. Mentoring of university students in schools has become key to induction of education workplace practices. One such arrangement is the mentoring of students from TAFE who endeavour to become teacher aides. However, there is no theoretical model for mentoring teacher aides and, similar to mentoring preservice teachers, such practices vary in quality and quantity. What are mentors’ perceptions of mentoring potential teacher aides within school settings? This mixed-method research involves a survey with extended responses. The aim is to determine practices and strategies for mentoring potential teacher aides (PTAs). Results indicated that PTAs require induction about the school culture and infrastructure, which includes ethics, values, operational plans, awareness of facilities and a range of other inductions that would aid the PTA’s work practices. Findings also revealed that many of the mentoring practices employed for preservice teachers may be used for mentoring PTAs in school settings. Indeed, mentors require personal attributes to facilitate the mentoring process. They also indicated outlining the education system requirements as fundamental to workplace operations. In addition, as most PTAs work with students in the classroom, the mentor’s pedagogical knowledge can further assist PTAs to develop an understanding of effective pedagogical practices, particularly for small groups or one-on-one sessions. Finally, a mentor’s modelling of practices and providing constructive feedback about the PTA’s practices can assist the development of workplace operations. In conclusion, the survey employed in this study may assist organisations to develop protocols of practice for workplace mentors. PTAs require mentors who are versed in effective mentoring practices that can more readily guide them towards success.