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A mentoring mindset (Meddylfryd mentora)
A mentoring mindset (Meddylfryd mentora)

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1.1 Bringing together school and university

Beginner teachers often view their time spent in school as one of the most useful aspects of their learning. It is where they learn about good practice in the practical context of their school and start the difficult process of learning how to draw on the ‘craft knowledge’ of more experienced teachers (Hagger and McIntyre, 2006).

Figure 1

There is also important research-based knowledge that beginner teachers must understand, and this is traditionally where universities have played a central role. However, in modern initial teacher education (ITE) programmes there is an increasing emphasis on the need for students to understand, blend and apply intellectual and experiential forms of knowledge, and for programmes of ITE to design their provision and curricula to support this integration (Lofthouse, 2018). Hagger and McIntyre (2006) call this process ‘practical theorizing’. In this process, a beginner teacher draws on theory and research to identify ideas to improve their practice and then begins to critically examine the usefulness of these ideas in the context of their own practice, their subject or phase, their pupils and their school. The mentor has a key role to play in this process. They support beginner teachers to develop sufficient competence to use practical theorizing as they move towards teaching independently.

How the work of a mentor is perceived will vary greatly in schools. Senior leaders have a duty to choose as mentors those teachers who have a sound knowledge of the programmes the students are engaged in, strong interpersonal skills and a clear understanding of the needs of a beginner teacher working towards the expected standards (Estyn, 2018).

A mentor must also support a beginner teacher by nurturing the growth of particular dispositions. These dispositions include recognising the need for continuing development by taking responsibility for their own professional learning throughout their career, and developing an appetite for critical engagement with research to continually improve and innovate their classroom practice and their response to the learners for whom they are responsible.