Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Early Childhood Education

First Advisor

Dr. Caitlin McMunn Dooley

Second Advisor

Dr. Julie Dangel

Third Advisor

Dr. Rhina Fernandes-Williams

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Stephanie Lee Behm Cross

Abstract

Educators and policy makers recognize the need to provide a continuum of support for beginning teachers to facilitate the transition from preservice preparation to independent practice. As a result, both have responded with the recommendation of increasing and expanding induction programs. Teacher Residency programs have recently emerged as an innovative model for new teacher induction. This qualitative study was situated within a charter school context and investigated how five beginning teachers participating in a New Teacher Residency Program perceived and experienced mentoring. Drawing on sociocultural theory, situated learning, and communities of practice as theoretical frames, the research question was: How do new teachers participating in a residency program experience mentoring? This study specifically sought to explore the expectations of mentoring held by Resident Teachers as well as the ways mentoring support aligned with their personal and professional needs. Multiple data sources were analyzed, including in-depth interviews, written reflections, surveys, and pupil work samples. Data analysis was iterative and axial coding revealed six key categories including (a) expectations; (b) support; (c) gaps in support; (d) teacher development; (e) social identities; and (f) Critical Friends Groups. Findings revealed that Resident Teachers found mentoring to be a source of emotional support as well as a resource for professional learning, particularly with reflection, lesson planning, and instruction. Recommendations for residency program improvements include (a) release time for mentors; (b) defined roles and responsibilities for Resident Teachers; and (c) an increase in Resident Teachers’ stipend amount. As educators and policy makers continue to view mentoring as a way to improve teaching and learning, insights gained from Resident Teachers being mentored can inform the way mentored induction translates from policy to practice. In addition, the mentoring experiences of Resident Teachers can be used to guide the development of new induction programs or help strengthen existing programs.

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