This post is part of a series examining research and theory on mentoring and coaching from the perspective of mentoring school videoconference coordinators.
Fairbanks, C. M., Freedman, D., & Kahn, C. (2000). The role of effective mentors in learning to teach. Journal of Teacher Education, 51(2), 102-112.
Note: This article is specifically about mentors in the process of learning to teach. But I wonder if the findings can apply to learning to teach with technology also? Let’s think about it!
The qualitative study focuses on mentoring relationship between the student teacher and the mentor teacher. The authors reference Britzman (1991) that learning to teach is a social process where the student teachers sort through the contradictions between the pedagogical knowledge they learned and the realities of teaching. The article also makes connections to Lave and Wenger (1991)’s situated learning and legitimate peripheral participation (which is a great model for the gradual taking over of teaching that happens during student teaching).
The major categories of assistance and mentoring that occurred during the student teacher / mentor teacher relationship are:
- Helping student teachers survive their beginning teaching experiences and define their teaching lives
- Establishing relationships based on dialogue and reflection (negotiation with each other, finding balance between leading and following, articulating craft knowledge)
- Building professional partnerships (partnering to teach a lesson, developing new curriculum together)
They ended the relationship more as a team than as a mentor/student relationship.
Application to VC
So think with me just a wee bit about how this same process goes on as teachers learn a new technology, such as videoconferencing.
The videoconference coordinator / site facilitator / VC champion, if she has a teaching background, often leads the lessons to begin with. The VC coordinator:
- Chooses the program based on the teacher’s curriculum
- Signs up for the teacher
- Helps to prepare the students for the videoconference
- Stays in the room during the videoconference to help run the camera and facilitate the dialogue
Then, hopefully, the partnership moves to more dialogue and reflection. The VC coordinator:
- Negotiates with the teacher and starts to encourage the teacher to participate in the process
- Finds a balance between leading and following, starting to let the teacher take the lead
- Articulates knowledge about VC: how to sign up, how to prepare students, how to use the remote to mute & use presets
Finally, there is a professional partnership.
- Teacher and VC coordinator plan lessons together
- Teacher and VC coordinator create new curriculum (collaborative projects) together
- The VC coordinator moves into a “supporting” role instead of a “promoting” role
What do you think? Does this model apply? Which stage are YOU at with the teachers in your school? If you’re at the educational service agency, are you moving through these stages with your school level VC coordinators? Is anything missing at any of the stages?
Please comment! How are you mentoring your teachers in using VC in the curriculum?