An analysis of teacher mentor programs and the perceptions of the ways in which mentor programs informed the experiences of first year teachers
Gatlin, Heather W.
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New teacher mentor programs are in place in many school districts nationwide, and support first year teachers, teachers new to a campus, district or grade level. Because of everything teachers and school districts face, (i.e state standardized testing, stricter accountability, budget cuts, curriculum issues, state involvement, etc.) the need for quality and meaningful mentor programs to help new teachers get acquainted with the daily responsibilities are especially important (Strong, 2006). In a day and age where many districts are faced with high attrition rates, financial woes, and demands for greater student achievement, many researchers have found that mentoring programs aimed at new teachers will show vast benefits to the district, the new teachers, the mentor teachers, and most importantly the students. Participants in this grounded theory study include two first-year teachers, their principals and one teacher mentor. The nine month data collection period involved gleaning insights from a researcher’s reflexive journal, two first year teacher journals, and two interviews with the two first year teachers, the mentor teacher, and the two administrators that participated in this study. Analysis was conducted through open coding. The main purpose of this qualitative study was to understand first year teachers’ perceptions of how mentor programs influence them in terms of how they teach, what they teach, and how they interact with students. This study also looked at the roles that administrators on each campus play in mentoring novice teacher. This study is framed around three major research questions: 1.) What are novice teachers’ perceptions of some of the ways in which involvement in a mentoring program influenced their first year of teaching? 2.) What are novice teachers’ perceptions of the ways in which principals influence campus mentoring programs? 3.) What are principals’ perceptions of the ways in which mentoring programs influence the success of novice teachers? This study found that the novice teachers perceived there were several benefits as a result of participating in the mentor program. This study also found that novice teachers perceived having a trained mentor who was a classroom teacher was more effective than having a mentor who was not a classroom teacher and worked at central office. Finally, this study found that novice teachers perceived principal involvement in the mentor program was the most important aspect of the program.
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