Mentoring for effective teaching of writing in the primary school
Effective mentoring in English is considered paramount to a preservice teacher’s development as it presents real-life contexts for pedagogical understandings. This study provided qualitative data (questionnaire) and quantitative data (survey) on 24 mentors’ perceptions of their mentoring for teaching English and in particular teaching writing. These mentors are cooperating teachers who had mentored second-year preservice teachers (mentees) from one Australian university. Qualitative data indicated that developing a good rapport in a mentor-mentee relationship keeps lines of communication open in order to assist the mentee’s learning. In addition, the mentor’s modelling of teaching writing, demonstrating specific writing strategies, and providing positive yet constructive feedback were considered successful mentoring strategies, while a mentee’s lack of content knowledge, inadequate personal writing skills, and not knowing how to multi-task with many students may contribute towards a mentee feeling unsuccessful as a writing teacher. Mentors advocated methods for enhancing mentoring practices, which included university-facilitated professional development, linking syllabus content and teaching approaches, and sharing pedagogical content knowledge with colleagues. The quantitative data presented mentors’ perceptions of their attributes and practices across five factors for mentoring (i.e., Personal Attributes, System Requirements, Pedagogical Knowledge, Modelling, and Feedback) with 67% or more of these mentors (n=24) agreeing or strongly agreeing they provided all the 34 items associated with the survey. The factor System Requirements had the lowest percentage range (67-71%) while Feedback had the highest range (83-100%). However, mentees may not agree with their mentors’ perspectives, hence, further research comparing the two perspectives may lead towards targeting more effective approaches for mentoring the teaching of writing.