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Learning to teach: mentoring and tutoring student teachers
Learning to teach: mentoring and tutoring student teachers

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3.1 Identity

The body of literature around teacher identity is substantial, and impossible to cover within this space. However, it has been demonstrated that development of a teacher identity was seen as a key part of the learning to teach, by student teachers (Kagan, 1992, Maldrez et al., 2007).

Maldrez et al (2007) identify three perspectives from which to think about the issue of developing identity, which give rise to a number of strategies.

Firstly, within a socio-cultural perspective, the critical role of the mentor is in ‘supporting student teachers’ development of a comfortable and congruent sense of self as teacher (Maldrez et al., 2007 p239).

The second perspective they draw on is that of ‘robust reasoning’ within an investigation-articulation approach to teacher education. In this approach, revisiting questions about identity at regular intervals helps the student teacher to articulate their developing sense of self. The questions might include ‘who am I as a teacher?’ and ‘who is my professional community?’ (Maldrez et al., 2007 p 239).

The final perspective is that of developing a personal narrative, suggesting that ‘beginning teachers moved significantly towards establishing their own identities as teachers through creating their own stories’ (Maldrez et al., 2007 p239).

These three perspectives can be supported by the following practical strategies for mentoring.

  • nurturing and modelling
  • questioning and reflecting
  • exploring and facilitating the development of narratives.

The strategies you develop and draw on are likely to reflect your underlying beliefs about teacher education but may also reflect the nature of the student teacher you are working with and their own beliefs. Being aware of these different perspectives gives you access to a range of tools to support you.