Mentoring and Lived Experiences of Beginning Teachers in a Resident Teacher Program

Mentoring and Lived Experiences of Beginning Teachers in a Resident Teacher Program

Emmanuel Adjei-Boateng (University of North Dakota, USA) and Bonni Gourneau (University of North Dakota, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9948-9.ch013
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There has been considerable attention and focus, in the field of education, on development support for beginning teachers. The resident teacher program or a teacher residency is a comprehensive means of providing beginning teachers with support. This initiative is usually organized through the concerted efforts of a college of education and school district. Within this study, attention is given to the potential or real benefits and to the successes and challenges of an existing resident teacher program with six beginning teachers enrolled in an elementary education resident teacher program. The outcome shows that resident teachers' experiences is characterized by double commitment with a lot of responsibilities but double support; ability to bring what's learned in graduate courses into classroom teaching; and confidence to transition into regular classroom teaching after the program.
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Experiential Learning

Kolb’s theory of experiential learning focuses primarily on the dynamic relationship existing among learning, work, life activities, and the construction of knowledge and understanding in the context of education (Kolb, 1984). That is, it is an all-inclusive paradigm of learning, which encompasses experience, perception, cognition, and resultant behavioral changes (Kolb, 1984). The theory of experiential learning originated from models of learning by theories of Lewin and Dewey. These theories, which emphasized learning as a dialectic process involving experiences, observations, concepts, and actions also offered common ideas relevant to beginning teachers’ experience, learning, and growth.

Lewin’s model views learning as a cycle with four stages, starting with one’s current/immediate experience serving as reason for observation and reflection as the second stage. This is followed by construction of concepts and generalizations and their application in different situation to see how it fits (Kolb, 1984). This model was relevant to the experiences of beginning teachers since immediate personal experience serves as the focal point for learning, giving life, texture, and subjective personal meaning to abstract concepts and at the same time providing a concrete, publicly shared reference for testing the implications and validity of ideas created during the learning process. When human beings share an experience, they can share it fully, concretely, and abstractly (Kolb, 1984, p. 21). Another aspect of Lewin’s model, which was important for this study on beginning teacher experiences and learning, was the premium it placed on feedback as a learning tool. Lewin considers feedback as useful for social learning and for the problem-solving process.

These characteristics are relevant to the experiences and learning of beginning teachers because these involve a continuous process that continues after college education. It is also grounded in experience, which makes student teaching and developmental support like mentoring, induction, and resident teacher programs even more relevant.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Experiential Learning: Learning outcomes resulting from experience with a phenomenon.

Resident Teacher Program: Residency model of developmental support for beginning teachers.

Induction: Programs and activities aimed at ushering novices into professional practice.

Elementary Education: Relating to education and training aimed at preparing teachers for elementary schools.

Beginning Teachers: New entrants into the teaching profession.

Mentoring: Developmental support and assistance given to novices by veteran professional colleagues.

Teacher Education: Education and professional training offered to a group of people to become teachers.

Quality Teaching: Teaching practices based on high standards of instruction and student engagement.

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