Mentoring for Early childhood teachers research Report 2012

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Mentoring for Early childhood teachers

research Report 2012


Prepared for:

Department of Education and Early Childhood Development

Prepared by:

Assoc Prof Andrea Nolan*

Dr Anne-Marie Morrissey^

Dr Iris Dumenden*

*Victoria University

^Deakin University

December 2012





1.Introduction 6

1.1Aim 6

1.2 Background 6


2.1Overview and the BES Method 7

2.2What is Mentoring? 9

2.3Conceptual concerns, issues and tensions in mentoring 12

2.4Summaries of Research Evidence 14

3.exploring mentoring within the early childhood field in victoria: individual initiatives 29

3.1Methodology 29

3.2Summarising the initiatives 30

There is quite a bit of networking that happens within the group…. it is a particular interest in something or knowledge about something, you know, somebody knows how to get rainwater tanks, or somebody knows how to get a bilge pump, or somebody knows where to get butterflies, and we would put general information on, but they can talk to the person who actually has that information, and get it directly as they need. 34



6.Appendices 45

Appendix A: Empirical research on mentoring in the Early Childhood Contexts

Appendix B: Empirical research on mentoring in Schools

Appendix C: Empirical research on E-mentoring


Figure 1: Beaunea’s model of teachers’ perspectives of influences on mentoring relationships (2009, p. 99)…..Pg. 17

Figure 2: French’s (2004) conceptualisation of the purposes of narratives in e-mentoring exchanges………....Pg. 25


This Mentoring for Early Childhood Teachers Research Report 2012 grew out of the brief to explore the current mentoring capacity of the early childhood sector with a view to developing future mentoring arrangements for new to the profession or professionally isolated early childhood teachers. The report provides commentary on the current availability of mentoring opportunities for early childhood teachers in Victoria, including mentoring offered through kindergarten cluster management and other local networks. Therefore existing mentoring programs for early childhood teachers across the state of Victoria were mapped, and the characteristics of these mentoring initiatives noted. Interviews were conducted with representatives of the initiatives and related documents were sourced in order to build up a detailed understanding of each program. Working across the nine DEECD regions (Barwon South Western Region, Eastern Metropolitan region, Hume Region, Gippsland Region, Grampians Region, Loddon Mallee Region, Northern Metropolitan Region, Southern Metropolitan Region, and Western Metropolitan region) every effort was made to track mentoring initiatives, however, due to the unresponsiveness of some program representatives, local government officials and DEECD regional staff, not all regions are included in this report. However, most types of mentoring opportunities available within the state have been covered by more than one example each – from the large purpose-designed fully-funded program, to experienced teachers paid a few hours a week for their mentoring time, to free peer-to-peer mentoring within network groups. It must be noted that this report is dominated by the voices of managers, course coordinators and trainers. There was limited opportunity to involve the mentees themselves; however their views were incorporated where possible. Managers, trainers, and co-ordinators who were interviewed for this report were always asked for the names of mentees who could be approached to be interviewed. No names were ever forthcoming despite numerous attempts. It should be noted that some of the interviewees relayed feedback from the new graduates / mentees, in particular, on how having a mentor had benefited them.

Alongside the mapping process, an extensive literature review was conducted using a Best Evidence Synthesis (BES) method. Having a dedicated Research Officer assigned to the Professional Mentoring Program for Early Childhood Teachers project, meant that a comprehensive review of all relevant literature could be undertaken ensuring the evidence highlighted was current, extensive and representative. This review summarised the research evidence under the categories of:

Considering both the current state of mentoring in Victoria and the findings from the research literature, a number of indicators arise for mentoring programs to be successful. These relate to the value placed on mentoring and the role of the mentor, whether there is support and training for mentors, the availability of resources, the divisions between mentoring and other management functions, tailoring mentoring so that each individual receives a mentoring program that is unique to their professional needs, and the need for formal evaluations to take place which can inform the future success of programs.

Research shows that effective mentoring reduces teacher attrition and enhances outcomes for children. We could regard teachers’ professional lives as moving along a mentoring continuum, from being mentored as a pre-service and graduating teacher, to eventually becoming experienced mentor teachers themselves. Identifying the changing mentoring needs and roles of teachers, and providing resources to support them through these career stages, may be a profitable investment.

With infrastructure such as funding and resources being a major determinant of future programs we hope that this report can provide information which will help inform further decisions about the ‘shape’ of mentoring in the early childhood sector in the years to come.

Associate Professor Andrea Nolan and Dr Anne-Marie Morrissey

December 2012

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