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Current Editor: Dr. Robert T. Howell  bhowell@fhsu.edu
Volume 38, Number 2
Winter 2001


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Mentoring for Beginning Trade and Industrial Teachers: A Case Study

Virginia M. Osgood
University of Central Oklahoma

Despite their completion of a four-year teaching degree, including observation and practice teaching opportunities, nearly 30 percent of teachers in the United States leave teaching in the first five years of their profession. Some school districts experience even greater attrition rates. Even worse, research points out that the most gifted and talented of these new teachers are those most apt to abandon their teaching careers (Halford, 1998).

Vocational education suffers teacher departure as well. Heath-Camp and Camp (1990) stated that, at the national level, 15% of newly hired vocational teachers vacate their teaching positions after their first year, and 48% of trade and industrial (T&I) teachers leave before the third year has ended.

This increase may well be due to the fact that only a few T&I teachers have had the benefit of pre-service teacher training. In 1994, the National Assessment of Vocational Education (NAVE) reported that more than 45% of secondary T&I teachers do not possess baccalaureate degrees. At the national level, the average number of credit hours of college level professional education teaching courses held by beginning T&I teachers is only five (Heath-Camp, Camp, & Adams, 1993; Heath-Camp & Camp, 1990).

Adequately preparing beginning vocational teachers to the degree that they do not abandon the profession is crucial. The induction phase has been identified as the most critical facet in the professional life of a vocational teacher. This phase must be used to inform teachers about the magnitude of their responsibilities (Heath-Camp & Camp, 1990).

Since 1975, the Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technical Education (ODVTE) has offered induction programs, dubbed "teacher survival" programs, to increase beginning teacher effectiveness. This workshop has historically been offered over five full days. The new teacher survival workshop focuses on classroom and laboratory management, curriculum alignment strategies, safety concerns, teaching methodologies, vocational student organizations, certification requirements, and more. Although the workshop certainly gives teachers a glimpse of what their new responsibilities are going to be like, it is unrealistic to think learners can retain all they are taught. Participants come away with comments like these: "I am scared to death;" "I'm not sure I even want to teach now;" or "They have given me so much to learn, my brain is on overload" (C.B. Knight, personal communication, August 26, 1998).

Professional development of new teachers is costly to school districts and state agencies. Unfortunately, induction efforts to bring new teachers "up to speed" appear often to fall far short of intended goals. Despite various induction efforts, when teachers do not experience some degree of success, they become frustrated, feel isolated, and often choose to leave the teaching profession (Paese, 1990).

The ODVTE, charged with supervising vocational education in Oklahoma, formed a professional development committee in an attempt to combat new teacher despair and eventual exodus, as well as to promote the professional development of vocational teachers. "As a result of ongoing local evaluation of the quality and quantity of vocational teachers on the local level, the teacher development system evolved to promote a stronger alignment between all stakeholders in the teacher development process for vocational education in Oklahoma" (Warner, 1997, p. 4).

The Professional Development Committee membership consisted of agency division supervisors, vocational school administrators, teacher educators, and "master" vocational teachers. The Professional Development Committee began meeting in October 1996, to identify needs of both new and incumbent teachers and to determine strategies to bring improvement into the system. The ODVTE's implementation of a peer-mentoring program was initiated as one of the strategies. This effort reflected national trends that suggested the increased use of assigning mentors to new teachers. Its purpose was to increase the inductee's teaching skills, and improve socialization and retention of new faculty.

Organized mentoring, where veteran teachers (mentors) and inexperienced teachers (mentees) are matched by third parties (e.g., instructional supervisors within the vocational school setting), is designed to help beginning teachers become more effective and experience more success. In fact, successful beginning teachers have identified the mentoring experience with an appropriate support teacher as the most helpful element in their professional induction (Hoffman, Edwards, O'Neal, Barnes, & Paulissen, 1986). Mentors, willing to respond to whatever specific concerns beginners express, are able to provide valuable support to new teachers (Enz, 1992).

Within this initiative, local school administrators were encouraged to begin mentoring approaches within their school systems whereby new teachers were assigned mentors. The ODVTE offered $500.00 subsidies to selected veteran teachers to serve as mentors. Instructional support through the development and sponsorship of mentor training workshops was also made available. Additionally, the ODVTE provided inducements, including substitute teacher pay and travel reimbursement so the new teacher and/or mentor could be involved in as many as four off-campus observations (Warner, 1997).

A review of the literature reveals that not all mentor-protege relationships are considered effective or beneficial. Some can actually be devastating to the new vocational teacher. Problems often cited include a misuse of power by the mentor, mentor abandonment, excessive reliance upon one or the other, incongruous values or ethics, vulnerability to hero/heroine worship, or other difficulties which prove restrictive to the professional development of the mentee or mentor (Dean, 1992; Robinson, 1993). When these problems occur, the effectiveness of the relationship is certainly jeopardized and can even result in the new teacher's career abandonment.

Others agree and have cited reasons for the inconsistency between beneficial or devastating relationships. Some have to do with the way the mentoring relationship is structured, including:

  • Inadequate screening of mentors prior to being matched with mentees (Reiman, Head, Thies-Sprinthall, 1992).
  • Failure to determine shared interests (e.g., leisure time activities, age relationships, or other denominators) between mentor and mentee (Robinson, 1993).
  • Inadequately informing mentors about the terms of relationship objectives, commitment, time, and so on prior to the relationship's formation (Enz, 1992).
  • Lack of appropriate training for mentors with regard to stages of apprentices' cognitive or psychological development, open communication, problem solving strategies, and conflict resolution (Robinson, 1993).
  • Inadequate incentives (intrinsic and extrinsic rewards) and/or administrative support during the relationship (Aaronson, 1996).

Some difficulties can be attributed to the proteges themselves, including:

  • Mentees may feel intimidated by the mentor's knowledge or practice. Because they do not want to appear inexperienced or ineffective, mentees do not ask for needed assistance (Gratch, 1998).
  • Mentees may not respect mentors because some mentors may appear inept in communication, technical, or teaching abilities.
  • Mentees may not share the same philosophy, moral standards, integrity, or ideals of their mentors (Robinson, 1993).
  • Mentees may not trust their assigned mentors because of mentor roles in evaluation processes, connections with administration, or similar reasons (S.S. Fairbetter, personal communication, February 10, 1998).
  • Mentees may not understand their own personal roles, or the role of their mentors.
  • Mentees may not share the same expectations from the relationship as do the mentors (Gratch, 1998), and/or mentees may simply not want to participate.

Difficulties can also exist that relate to the administrator within the mentoring team. These difficulties might include:

  • Administrators may use the "good ole boy" approach for selecting a mentor simply to provide an opportunity for extra income for a friend.
  • Administrators may choose mentors because they are assured the mentor attitudes will echo and support administrative approaches rather than advocate for the mentee (C.B. Knight, personal communication, August 26, 1998).
  • Administrators may not take into consideration the time involved for mentors to effectively interact with mentees, nor provide adequate compensation or release time from typical teaching duties (Robinson, 1993).

Still other factors come into play that can jeopardize mentor/mentee relationships. These include teacher bargaining groups that demand that the more experienced teachers be given mentoring responsibilities and stipends regardless of their dedication, desire, ability, location, or time constraints, and with no concern toward compatibility (S.S. Fairbetter, personal communication, February 10, 1998).

Statement of the Problem

While there is evidence in the literature that a formal mentoring program can have a positive impact on the preparation of beginning trade and industrial teachers, some mentoring efforts may actually be harmful to the new vocational teacher. Further, there is lack of data about perceptions of mentoring on the Oklahoma mentoring initiative for beginning trade and industrial teachers. Consequently, a need exists to study mentoring relationships for Oklahoma's beginning T&I vocational teachers. These needs include (a) determining what the strengths and limitations of the mentoring relationships are, (b) offering insight as to what challenges and successes can occur in the relationships, (c) determining if mentoring relationships are perceived as beneficial to the parties involved, (d) ascertaining why participants involved in the relationships feel as they do, and (e) learning more about the dynamics of mentoring relationships in the identified vocational education system.

Purpose of the Research

The purpose of this research effort was to determine whether mentoring relationships for beginning T&I teachers inducted into Oklahoma's vocational school system are perceived as beneficial to the parties involved. The mentoring processes' dynamics, including the matching of mentors to mentees, training needed, as well as the perceived challenges, successes, strengths, and limitations of the mentoring relationships were examined.

The research study was significant because it assisted in the development of mentoring support processes designed to provide assistance to beginning teachers so their induction and socialization into teaching is more effective. The study sought to answer questions relating to mentoring relationships, most especially to Oklahoma's vocational teaching mentoring initiative, by revealing how partners within the relationships perceived their mentoring experiences. It also reflected upon how mentoring processes might be improved. Thus, the knowledge base dealing with selected aspects of mentoring was extended.

Scope and Method of Study

The following research questions were used to guide the study:

  1. What perceptions do mentoring team members have of their mentoring experiences, including, but not limited to, structure, expectations, successes, and challenges?
  2. Upon reflection, how do mentoring team members think the mentoring process might be improved?

Qualitative design permits investigation and inductive logic as the researcher endeavors to understand what is occurring in a setting without placing expectations on the phenomenon. It describes in words, rather than in numbers, the depth and detail of the research and it reasons from general principles to specific situations (Merriam, 1988). The study at hand deliberated from the age-old theory that mentors are loyal advisors and coaches to the more specific: do mentor-protege relationships, a primary component of many teacher induction programs, really influence novice teachers' practices in a positive manner?

A qualitative case study design was selected for this research to examine mentoring relationships for beginning trade and industrial vocational teachers. Case studies fall within the qualitative research realm and are used to collect detailed information about a single item or circumstance bounded by time and activity. The opportunity to incorporate multiple methods of data collection is considered a major strength of qualitative studies (Otto, 1994). This study utilized more than forty face-to-face interviews, four focus groups, and participant observation to collect information, explore the mentoring phenomenon, analyze, interpret, and report the study. Eighteen members, comprising six different mentoring teams, were interviewed using two to three rounds of questioning per member. In addition to conducting interviews and facilitating focus groups, the researcher attended two mentor training workshops and engaged in note-taking throughout all activities.

Long interviews, conducted in face-to-face fashion with each member of the mentoring team, were used to elicit information relating to participant backgrounds, experiences, expectations, perceived roles and responsibilities, and perceived benefits/limitations of the relationships. The long interview is one of the most powerfully revealing tools in the qualitative researcher's entire toolbox. This method provides more than a mere glimpse into the respondent's perception of the universe (Stake, 1995). Qualitative interviews usually take place privately, in a naturalistic setting comfortable to the interviewee (Yin, 1994). The setting for this research typically was the interviewee's office within the school site.

The review of the literature presented specific issues that appeared inherent to mentoring relationships. These included, but were not limited to, the appropriate selection of mentors, satisfactorily matching mentor to mentee, adequately determining mentor roles, and setting suitable expectations for the relationship's outcome. These issues, as well as the research study's questions, were analyzed by a team of experts who worked together to formulate the long interview questioning format. The result was a "grand tour" instrument that was to be used over three rounds of interviewing (Appendix A).

The instrument consisted of open-ended questions designed to ensure that essential exploratory, unstructured responses would ultimately produce elements of "freedom and variability" within the interviews (Merriam, 1988, p. 25). The first round of interview questions asked participants to address the issues of mentor and mentee backgrounds, characteristics, various roles, and expectations perceived by members of the mentoring teams. Interview rounds two and three dealt more directly with the mentoring team members' perceptions of the mentoring process. As a means to verifiability, member checking, which is a process Stake (1995) used to describe the examination of interview transcripts, was utilized. If a participant found anything questionable in the verbatim transcript of an interview, he or she was given an opportunity to refine what was said in the initial interview.

Additional data gathered from focus groups consisted of input from a group of mentees only, a group of mentors only, a group of administrators only, and finally, a combination of mentors, mentees, and administrators. A scripted list of questions was used in the focus groups that allowed for group discussion of perceptions, with an emphasis on member ideas toward possible improvement of the mentoring process (Appendix B).

Finally, information was collected from field notes derived from participant observation. The notes were compiled during face-to-face interviews, focus group facilitating, and while attending various mentor training workshops and planning sessions.

All of the data was compiled, examined, and reexamined to identify emerging themes. This process involved preparing verbatim transcripts of interviews and focus groups transcripts. Audiotapes of the interviews and focus groups were linked to field notes to interpret pauses, body language, facial expressions, and other indicators that might reflect sarcasm, cynicism, emotions, and similar nuances. Verbatim transcripts were read and reread to illicit core ideas, concepts, and emergent themes. Thorough analysis examined content similarities, inconsistencies, and contradictions. Triangulation was used, as Stake (1995) suggested, to search for additional interpretations other than from one single meaning.

Participant Selection

In choosing the sample to be studied, the researcher sought typical-case beginning teachers. Because it was important that entire teams take part in the study, it was necessary to find six new teacher/mentor/administrator triads willing to participate in the research effort. Eventually, six triads from six different school sites agreed to be involved in the study and provided the bulk of the data for the research.

Of the six teams chosen for this research, the following information was gathered relating to both the mentor and mentee: industrial experience, previous teaching experience, and educational background. Additionally, age relationships, gender, and ethnicity were indicated.

Mentees and mentors all had considerable industrial experience, ranging from 5 to 20 years. Four of the six mentees had more experience in industry than their mentors. Mentees had only limited prior formal teaching experience, ranging from substitute teacher service over a one-year period, to short-term instructor for a vocational schools' business and industry training division, to a religious education instructor at a place of worship, to absolutely no teaching experience. Mentors' teaching experience ranged from 6 years to 24 years, with an average of 13.1 years full-time experience. Educational background of the mentees and work experience varied. The data is reflected in Table 1.

The administrators within the study also had varied experiences and backgrounds. These settings encompassed teaching disciplines including T&I, Health Occupations, Vocational Marketing, and junior high school Science. The supervisory positions were held from one to twelve years.

Table 1
Mentee's Educational/Work Experience

  New
Teacher
#1
New
Teacher
#2
New
Teacher
#3
New
Teacher
#4
New
Teacher
#5
New
Teacher
#6

H.S. Diploma Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Some Gen. Ed. College hours Yes No Yes -3 No Yes -6 No
Some Pedagogy, College hours No Yes -13 No No Yes -3 No
Baccalaureate Degree Yes No No No No No
Previous
Teaching Exp
Sunday
School
No No No Substitute
teacher
Short-term
adult
Non-Teaching Work Experience 7 years 5 years 15 years 12 years 15 years 18 years

Only one team was composed of mixed genders -- a male mentee, a female mentor, and a male administrator. All other triads were either all male or all female. In the mixed-gender case the ethnicity was also mixed, while all other triads were similar in ethnicity. The mix of gender and ethnicity was recognized as advantageous by that triad's members.

Mentee:
Our program is a mixed-race program and being provided a mentor with a different race and gender was important. I mean, there are not many male teachers in cosmetology, so I think it was good for my mentor and for the students. I think it was good for us all the way around . . . Differences in skin tone and hair texture are essential components in our curriculum. When I (mentee) brought that expertise into the classroom, it not only was beneficial to our students, it helped my mentor as well.

Mentor:
In this particular field, a female mentor can caution a male about working with women. Of course, _____ (mentee) had shop experience, but not with high school age students. We talked about being really careful about what was said. Being really careful how he judged women to be, especially cautious about touching women. In cosmetology we touch people all the time, so it's not real unusual for us to walk down and put our hands on someone's hair or on their shoulder or to massage their neck, if they have a headache. People interpret that differently, if they are not a cosmetologist or a doctor or something along that line. So, you have to watch that, especially with young people. So, I shared my concern and I also cautioned ______ (new teacher) about facial rooms . . . and dressing rooms. Real basic things like that. Same gender mentors and mentees might not ever have thought about it.

Findings from the Case Studies

Perceptions of Mentor Characteristics and Team Structures

According to the literature reviewed, one of the reasons for the inconsistency between beneficial or devastating mentoring relationships is failure to carefully match mentor to mentee. Matching efforts often do not include a method of determining shared interests, leisure time activities, age relationships, or other denominators between the mentee and mentor. Mentor to mentee matching was of apparent concern to this study's instructional supervisors, especially regarding shared interests. All mentor/mentee teams were matched within their divisional area (T&I). In no case did a crossover into another division occur. Additionally, if exact matches in technical areas (e.g., cosmetology mentor work with cosmetology mentee) could not be accomplished, similar areas were sought (e.g., power mechanics with automotive technology).

The findings relating to team members' perceptions of the characteristics an effective mentor should possess took different pathways based on the roles held by mentoring team members. Instructional supervisors focused more often on paths that dealt with high levels of competence in technical or occupational areas, teaching abilities, classroom management, and communication. They considered the ability to instill trust, identify strengths and weaknesses, impart the value of students, and act as a team player as important characteristics to the mentor's success.

Mentors, perhaps due to their humility, did not identify outstanding teaching or technical expertise as their team members did. Rather, they concentrated more often on accessibility, understanding, patience, creativity, flexibility, and organizational skills (particularly in handling paperwork) as key characteristics of mentors. They also thought mentors should be capable of listening to and encouraging beginners.

Mentor:
Characteristics that I should have as a mentor are to be willing to have an open ear and listen to them - really anticipate what their problems are. Realize that they have his own sets of problems. Be available. Have a desire to see the new teacher succeed.

The mentees wanted mentors who were trustworthy, available, understanding, patient, proactive in identifying problems, and reactive in solving problems. They wanted excellent listeners and expected to see modeling of good teaching.

Mentee:
A mentor has to be a good teacher with a lot a varied experiences. The mentor should be a friend because you've got to confide in them. Not only professionally but personally. Personally, if it's just related to professionalism, you are defeating your own purpose because you have to confide in this person. You've got to. I figure if it is my mentor, then I should be able to talk to him about my department and my personal life.

Mentee:
My mentor is organized and has excellent rapport with his students. He gives them autonomy and he gives that to me as well. His classroom management is great. Besides the fact that he's a good teacher, I know he has my interest at heart. He wants me to be a successful teacher.

It was also perceived that the beginning teachers should possess certain characteristics if mentoring was to be effective for them. These included open-mindedness, truthfulness about strengths and weaknesses, willingness to ask for help, being capable of accepting criticism and advice, and being amenable to change.

Administrator:
I think the mentee is going to have to show a keen level of interest, a willingness to learn, to make observations of their own using that mentor as a role model. They should try to refine what that person does, but make sure that your eyes and ears are open to other staff and faculty that you work with. Use those people. The mentee wants to be careful about what he or she uses in their observations. You don't necessarily want to utilize it all. I guess, I could wrap that up by saying "Take what is good and use it. Take the good and throw away the bad."

Administrator:
A new teacher must be willing to accept the fact that he is a beginner, and he's in it to learn. He doesn't have all the answers and only experience and a lot of help will provide those answers. If he's not willing to accept advice, he's probably not going to make it.

No objective pre-assessment of new teacher strengths or weaknesses occurred. In only one case was it apparent that efforts were made to match mentors and mentees based on strengths or weaknesses.

All administrators expressed a desire to identify mentors with whom the mentees would feel comfortable. They sought to complement the new teachers' personalities with the personality strengths of the veteran teachers.

Administrator:
I picked this particular mentor because of her mothering characteristic. _____ is very capable, strong, outgoing, moves well throughout the classroom, works constantly as a teacher … is an excellent one-on-one counselor for students …. Because of the (mentor's) personality, and I really looked at personalities, I thought ______ would assist ______ (new teacher) in coming out of the shell.

Administrator:
If I were to ask you which teacher in your lifetime made the biggest impact on your life, you wouldn't say, "Mrs. Smith because she knew her English real well." Rather, it would be that Mrs. Smith impacted me because she made me realize my strengths, or made me feel good about myself, or something like that. I selected _____ partially to serve as a role model because he makes students feel good about themselves and recognize their self-worth.

Administrator:
I felt _____ (mentor) would be able to assist the mentee in identifying teacher roles without making him feel uneasy. Help the mentee connect. Connect with the students, faculty, administration, school policies, procedures … to get a real feel for the people he worked with and the students he served.

Administrators also sought to match by proximity of classroom locations.

Administrator:
I wanted the mentee to feel comfortable with the mentor and I looked at occupational similarity as the key. With the occupational similarity they could feed off each other a little bit. And the proximity. You know the distance (between teachers' classrooms) will cut down on communication.

No mentor's classroom was more than 150 yards from his or her protege's. The farther the distance, the fewer contacts for assistance resulted.

Mentee:
My mentor was down a long hallway from me so sometimes it was more expedient to call on the teacher across the hall. That program was more similar to mine, but ______ (mentor) was a relatively new teacher. I asked so many questions that I felt like I was a bother. It could be a bother, but I never really received that kind of response from those I was asking questions of. They were always helpful.

Within the study, half the mentees expressed a need for compatible personalities within the team. This half also recognized that no initial, natural bonding or informal mentoring existed between their mentor and themselves before assignment to each other. These same individuals expressed a desire to have some input into the selection process.

Perceptions of Mentor Roles

In a presentation given to prospective mentors of new teachers, Johnson (1997) identified seven different roles mentors could assume: advisor, advocate, broker, coach, communicator, counselor, or referral agent. Within the six triads, congruence was evident in determining mentor roles as "coach" and "communicator:"

Mentee:
I think the mentor has to be available for the instructor to be mentor to the mentee. There needs to be a relationship between the two so they can talk and feel comfortable in asking questions. Both of them need to be able to communicate back and forth in asking questions, and both of them need to be able to communicate back and forth according to the newest directive's needs.

Mentee:
The mentor must be someone who can help new teachers connect. Connect with the students, the other faculty, the administration . . . "Connecting" is understanding the school's culture and fitting into it. It means understanding the procedures, policies, little ins-and-outs, about collecting money and fund-raisers, etc.

Mentee:
A mentor must be willing, capable, and able to pick up the slack when you drop the ball, because new teachers do drop the ball. We just pray that it's not something earth shattering or extremely major. You need to have someone there to help you pick up the pieces and put it back together. And, it has to be someone who's good at it. You just out and out have to have somebody that you can rely on. I feel like I can probably go in there and say "I've really screwed up with this!" And he would simply say, "Well, hey, we're just the boys that can fix it, bring it over!"

All members of the triads agreed that the veteran's role as coach was to teach and role model classroom management and instructional processes.

Mentee:
A mentor's responsibility is making sure that I go by the right procedures. My mentor made sure I stayed on track and did the right things … would explain things like, for instance, performance tests, how to work grades, put them in the book correctly. My mentor made sure I could do all the little things that I was not familiar with and did not really take an interest in. I didn't think some were important, but as the year went on, I learned how much some of the little things can impact the student. What I do at the beginning of the school year impacts the year's effectiveness. I've got to get things together and get them in on time (laughs) and how things have to be. Actually, there was a lot of reminding. If you didn't have a mentor, you wouldn't know.

Mentor:
A mentor should be a guide. Someone willing to help you determine what you need and when you need it. To make sure that you are aware of what they are going to be asking for next week, like six-week grade reports, or when a particular function is coming up. There is no way a newcomer can be aware of everything that's going to happen or what they will need to know.

The mentee's need for the opportunity to observe the mentor and vice versa appeared to be obvious to all. This critical process was considered to be the best avenue by which gaps could be identified and effective performance encouraged. Unfortunately, the observations occurred infrequently (usually limited to three or less visits by the mentor and even fewer by the mentee to their partner's classrooms). Even more discouraging, mentees were disappointed by the lack of substantive feedback stemming from the observations. They wanted constructive criticism and recommendations for specific behaviors to employ for problem correction.

Mentee:
I think it's really good that he (mentor) can observe and be willing to observe. I have always appreciated what anybody would say to me to help me improve. Yeah, I wanted someone to tell me "you could do better" with this or that, instead of saying that everything is fine. I hoped I would see even more. I think that would have helped me out. I wanted some reinforcement and constructive criticism.

Mentee:
Well, I expect to get recommendations in methods of teaching and ideas in that area, but also the way the program and the school run - paperwork, events coming up, how I need to manage my time, what I need to prepare for.

Mentees, mentors, and administrators recognized the role of "counselor," one who helps novices understand and identify teaching and management skills, school interests, and cultures, as important.

Mentor:
It's important that he learn the school system. Because it's an all-new government. It's like changing countries when you change schools. Things that you thought were absolutely law, were the way we did things there. But, not the way they do it here. It's just getting used to the system.

As a counselor, the mentor should assist the beginner in setting and achieving mutually-agreed upon roles. Acknowledging that mentors should assist mentees in planning strategies to become better teachers and survive the first year was a given. At question was the issue of whether triad members actually did agree upon goals mutually, or whether goals were set primarily by the administrator. While administrators counted upon mentors to serve as referral agents capable of identifying resources to assist the beginner with difficulties, others within the groups did not recognize that role.

Mentee:
I don't think I knew what a mentor was supposed to do, initially. I was kind of told. You know, we had an initial meeting, the team did, and I was given a sample of the evaluation (instrument), but not really what the mentor was going to do. So, I don't think I had any prior idea.

Rather, they felt the mentor should be able to "have answers to all the questions."

Mentee:
What I expected was that my mentor would be someone I could check with when I had no idea how to proceed. I found it saved me a lot of trouble, because I could go in there and ask _____ (mentor) what he thought before I went the wrong way. What I am talking about are a lot of things we were dealing with - some conflict resolution things with students and different things like that. You know, when you have that first big fight break out in your classroom. He made sure that I got my documentation down, things like that. I expected him to come to my aid if I needed him, and he did just that.

Mentee:
I expected my mentor to be my support. _____ (mentor) was really good support, knew the students, knew the paperwork. There wasn't too much I would ask of him that he didn't have the answer for. He would make me try to put it together, but if I couldn't he was there to support. He was a good teacher. We expected progress. If he hadn't been with me, things probably would have happened differently than they have. I knew he would cut the line at some point. After the first year I knew I couldn't be leaning on him too much, I had to be ready on my own.

It was often burdensome to the mentor and disappointing to the mentee when all the answers could not be supplied.

Mentor:
Probably the biggest disadvantage was not knowing enough about his trade. If he were another teacher in my specific trade it would really click. I don't mean he didn't know his trade, because he has more skills than we had equipment for. But if I was more knowledgeable in his area, I could have helped him set up his equipment, lab arrangements, look at his work-flow and his live work procedures, establishing goals for his students. I know his students needed to have job assignments, but I didn't know how to tell him how to get there.

A strong match relating to the role of adviser was lacking. Mentors often stated a desire to see the mentee become successful, but no strategies were outlined. Nor was mentee input sought toward planning for that development. Additionally, a formula to communicate opportunities for advancement to the new teacher was not in place.

Only one mentor and a single administrator used the term "advocate."

Mentor:
You have to be an advocate. I'm not really sure my mentee ever knew I went to bat for him, but I did. And it helped.

Because the term was found so seldom in the transcribed interviews, the researcher is uncertain that mentors felt comfortable with the role, nor did mentees feel befriended enough to expect advocacy.

Problem solving skills are critical in today's work places and in vocational schools. Administrators repeatedly saw a need to match mentors capable of recognizing and solving problems for beginners. Mentors and mentees recognized the need as well. All knew mentors had to be proactive in identifying difficulties before they occurred and capable of reacting when emergencies arose. Problems were very real and frequent in the lives of new teachers. Mentors involved in this study were expected to be cognizant of what constituted problems and possess the skills to generate ideas that lead to solutions.

Perceptions of the Expectations of the Mentoring Relationships

Another area of concern identified in the review of the literature is the lack of clearly defined objectives or expectations of mentoring relationships for new teachers. Because this issue is so prevalent in the literature on mentoring, the researcher questioned participants about their expectations of the mentoring relationships.

Administrators stated that their focus was on getting the teacher "through the first year" by making the beginner more comfortable in the classroom environment and the system as a whole. It was noted that mentoring programs were to serve as a means to keep beginners and school systems "out of trouble."

Mentor:
I knew there was some paperwork and some observing, two formal observations. I knew I would be answering my mentee's questions and helping out when I was needed. The first meeting was a very short meeting. Its primary goal seemed to be to dispense the observation forms and to fill out paperwork.

Only two mentors indicated that specific goals and expectations had been set. Other than conceptions of bringing the mentee to self-sufficiency, a sense of vagueness prevailed when mentors and instructional supervisors described their expectations of the mentoring process. This was evident in mentor and administrator statements like "I wanted to make that person as successful as they could be," "I expected the new teacher to get better and better," and "The things the mentor did made it easier for the new teacher."

New teachers often admitted they did not know what the expectations of the mentoring relationship were. One thought peer evaluation was the major component of the process. Others simply hoped to receive support, general assistance, and short cuts to system and teaching processes.

Mentee:
I expected to get the help I needed to get me through the first year. Like managing the shop, how to handle 19-20 students at a time in a shop, keeping them busy, supervising them. I hoped to get some tips. I knew he was going to come down and watch me a couple of times, but I don't know if it was in an evaluating capacity officially.

In a check with mentors it became evident that they too had no clear picture of what the expectations were, nor did they know how to meet the vaguely described tasks at hand. They were at a loss to pinpoint measurable or well defined objectives.

Mentor:
I think it might be a good idea if the obligations or jobs or objectives were spelled out better. We had no idea what we were supposed to do when we came into the program other than achieve a school year together with more students, and we have done that. But I can see in other situations where it might really need to be defined.

Neither mentors nor mentees were able to recall anything more than a brief meeting at the beginning of the year which served little more purpose than to introduce the mentor to the mentee.

Mentee:
I don't think I knew what a mentor was supposed to do, initially. I was kind of told. You know, we had the initial meeting, the team did, and I was given a sample of the evaluation (instrument), but not really what the mentor was going to do. So, I don't think I had any prior idea.

At least two administrators felt very strongly about helping the mentor achieve higher levels of development and facilitating mentor self-actualization. Some expressed that mentoring roles proved to be excellent training grounds for potential supervisors.

Administrator:
I would absolutely select a mentor if I thought that person might be capable of filling my shoes some day. You do that. You start grooming. I think every good administrator I've ever met is trying to pull people up and see if they have good qualities that would make them good administrators. You always encourage staff development. Of course, sometimes you might be treading on dishonesty, because maybe you don't think they would make a good administrator. Of course, you want them to better their education, but you have seen people in administrative classes that you know are never going to be an administrator. I have to be a cheerleader for all the teachers on this campus. You have to encourage that, but you can do it more strongly for the ones you are convinced have the potential. Of course, not all people I would select for mentors are good administrator material, either.

Additionally, no mentor within the entire study was aware that he or she should provide a recommended 72 hours assistance to the mentee. All indicated there was a genuine effort "to stop by," take a break together, or "have lunch at least once a week." However, only one mentor/mentee team felt the 72-hour recommendation was unmet. Three teams felt the time recommendation had been far surpassed. The final two teams estimated it was "pretty close to accurate." No time frame or meeting schedule (other than that covered by those falling under Oklahoma's residency committee requirements) was arranged by any team, but all pairs were unanimous in that there was an "open-door, call-me-any-time-you-need-me-with-any-problem-you-have" policy in place.

Perceptions of the Relationships' Successes

According to the literature reviewed, mentoring relationships are often seen as successful in helping new teachers adapt to their first year of teaching. In this study, each administrator recognized successes in stronger teachers and programs. Two recognized growth because another "ear" was available to which mentees could speak.

Administrator:
The new teacher has a completely new ear to bend than the administrator's. One benefit is, they (mentors) have no stake in the employment or re-employment of that individual (new teacher). They merely are going to be the advice and counsel. So, that is helpful to me as an administrator, because I want the advice and counsel to a new teacher, or any employee for that matter, to be consistent.

While the administrator saw the mentoring relationship as an opportunity to provide advice and counsel, another expected the mentor to disclose new teacher performance problems. "It provides a way to ask another source how the 'baby' teacher is doing." These statements seem to indicate contradictory motives. The researcher detected the possibility of a breach of trust between mentor and mentee, if disclosing information about new teacher performance to supervisors truly was the mentor's responsibility.

Mentors agreed with administrators when they defined successes. They saw improved teachers, improved programs, and improved students. Beyond that, they saw beginners interacting more comfortably and more frequently with their peers and students. As mentors, they felt they provided essential advice and counsel.

Mentor:
When I took on this mentoring role, I had just left a teaching position and began a new role as a supervisor of nighttime programs. The mentoring that I did for ____ (mentee) reinforced the same thing when I started teaching. The most important thing is learning to back up and teach the basics to students regardless of what your trade is. Sometimes you take everything for granted. So it is the same way, you have to back up and teach the very basic things that you have kind of forgotten about. You have to be sure that those are right or you can't succeed as a craftsperson. You have to back up the same way with your mentee, remember all the basic things that made your life easier as a teacher. I had forgotten about those things. I can use that understanding I gained when working with _____ (mentee) now in my new position when I work with the teachers I am supervising.

Unanimously, mentors felt good about their involvement, reporting satisfaction with the process, increased motivation, renewed interest in their teaching, and a willingness to tackle the mentor's job again.

Mentor:
The mentoring process has helped our relationship grow stronger. I think it's caused all four programs down here to come closer together. All the teachers down here can see how the interaction has helped. Now that the first year is over, we will continue to work together. It won't be "Okay, it's over. Swim or drown." It will be an ongoing thing.

All mentees expressed high frustration levels during their first year: "I was so confused, I didn't even know what questions to ask, much less identify what I should study to make me a better teacher." Taking charge of their own self-directed learning seemed an insurmountable task. Mentees appreciated having an expert available to them. No mentee was too discouraged to return to teaching the second year.

Mentee:
I had resigned myself to the fact that I would at least survive the first year, hell or high water. By gosh, I was going to live through the first year and be a better man for it! But, no one was going to make me re-up for this! But by spring, everything had turned around so much and things were working so well. I expect it to be a whole lot better this year still. But from the beginning of that first year, I can't think of anything harder that I have ever done. I didn't need my mentor to encourage me from quitting, not that way. Whenever he came by and asked me how I was doing, popped his head in, he would check. Whenever I had problems I could always pull out this stuff I was having problems with, and he would sit down and educate me. He was very accessible. That's what I needed.

Some attributed their survival directly to the mentoring effort. All felt the school year was more successful because of the interaction between mentor and mentee.

Although degrees of satisfaction varied somewhat within the teams, no mentoring team member suggested that the relationships were without real merit. Despite a few shortcomings, successes were evident in all situations, even in situations where the mentors or mentees felt the matching was not the best choice.

Perceptions of the Relationships' Disadvantages

New teachers expressed few disappointments with the mentoring arrangement. The few concerns that were raised related to program dissimilarities, distances between mentor/mentee classrooms, and the fear of imposing too much on the mentor. Feeling they were "a bother" seemed to impact the frequency of questions asked.

Mentee:
The biggest disadvantage we had was my mentor has 50 students and he is consumed with that. Plus, not only does he have teaching responsibilities, he has production and quality of the output in his shop is critical. He has to stay on top of it all the time. You know, there was not a lot of time for me and I can understand because you get snowed under, you know. I think I was too hesitant, because I knew he was swamped. I know he has taught for a long time and he really has it down, but he is still very busy.

Rather than impose again, some mentees began to leave their questions unasked.

Another mentor considered an extended leave to be a disadvantage to the mentoring relationship.

Mentor:
The biggest disadvantage was that I had to be away for eight weeks in the middle of the year. No replacement was made. I'm not sure it made a difference but I could not share the time with the mentee that I should have. Looking back, I'm not sure it was wise to appoint me. At the time, no one thought it would be a problem, but it may not have been the best decision.

Other veterans regretted the necessity of taking any leave from school because they felt their mentees were left to fight battles alone.

Mentor:
Probably the biggest disadvantage, challenge might be a better way of saying it, was establishing that trust issue. He is around other teachers that might not offer the best advice, if you know what I'm talking about . . . teachers that are giving advice that is not good, not professional. He has to realize that I am going to help him and make sure that he does it right and make sure that he gets the best advice. So the first thing was, he had to trust me so he would realize what I was saying was not politically motivated. I wanted him to have the same philosophical view of students and teaching as the school held. I had to just openly tell him to stay away from some people. Don't spend too much time with this person because it can distort a new teacher's perspective of the entire school. One bad teacher seems ten times louder than good teachers sometimes.

Mentors were often discouraged because they had only limited knowledge about the beginner's occupational specialization, or lacked expertise in dealing with special needs students' learning and behavioral problems. Occasionally the mentor was unfamiliar with the delivery system (e.g., the mentee may deal with students in an individualized program or may perform a great deal of live-work while the mentor did not).

Mentor:
Our program delivery is pretty different. The only real similarities were we were both T&I, both had VICA chapters, and we're both _____ (gender).

Time lost to their own programs or that could not be provided to novices was disconcerting to mentors. Interruptions from new teachers were frustrating to mentors, especially when the mentee was located so closely that they could "pop their head in and say, 'Hey, I need some help here.'"

Mentor:
The biggest disadvantage, if there is one, I would probably say is that sometimes I am interrupted and lose my train of thought. But, I accept that because he doesn't realize it. I think it has strengthened our relationship somewhat because when I am really busy I have learned to say, "I am busy, can it wait?" Of course, if it's critical, we get right to it.

Administrators identified no disadvantages. They were pleased to be able to hook the new teacher to someone who was actually "in the trenches." They saw the mentoring effort as a "win-win situation" for the proteges, mentors, and school systems.

Perceptions of Other Mentoring Relationship Issues

Comments made by the mentors indicated that they felt intrinsically rewarded for their mentoring efforts. This mirrored the literature on mentoring, which suggests that participating mentors experience high satisfaction interacting with new faculty, increased motivation, and renewed interest in teaching.

Administrator:
I think educators, mentors, appreciate the fact that some of the responsibility to make better teachers falls on them, not just administrators. Stroke their ego. Stroke their self-esteem. Sometimes, that recognition could come in the title of "mentor."

Mentor:
You know I saw this sometimes as a more helpful thing for me than for my mentee. This gives me an opportunity to strategize or hypothesize over whatever you might want to do in your classroom. We were able to think of different theories and techniques to use.

Veteran teachers in vocational education have the added advantage of being exposed to the latest trends and technologies coming directly from industrial settings through the collaboration with new teachers. Some realized that they had advanced in their own teaching skills from the fresh ideas the beginners gave them and the necessity of getting out of their box as they helped novices solve problems.

Mentor:
Well, I didn't know too much about ____ (mentee's teaching field). I learned a lot about it. And, some of that relates to my field as well. Being with someone who is new, you get a whole new, fresh perspective from industry. I've been in teaching a long time. You get somebody who has been out in the real world and you realize the changes that have taken place. Quality is a big issue.

Mentees, on the other hand, often felt intimidated by the mentor's knowledge or experience.

Mentee:
You know, I really wanted to and hoped that I could give something to the relationship. But after dealing with my mentor, he has so much on the ball, I don't even know if that is possible.

The review of the literature indicated, and this study supports, that when such a situation prevailed, new teacher requests for assistance diminished (Gratch, 1998). For a more effective relationship, there should be a display of reciprocity between the novice and the mentor to reduce the sense of indebtedness (Reiman, Head, & Theis-Sprinthall, 1992).

Extrinsic incentive was an element that arose in this study as a recurring theme. Perceptions relating to incentives illustrated the same points that the review of the literature established: mentors are willing to take on the task with or without monetary reward because they feel it is their professional responsibility. The honor of being involved and witnessing mentee growth appeared to be enough incentive. However, it was determined that the protege might feel even more indebted to the mentor if no extrinsic reward at all was received. All of the mentees were, in fact, in favor of raising compensation for mentors.

Mentee:
If there was one thing I'd like to change, it would be more pay for mentors. They put in tremendous help. But that's not my jurisdiction. I wish it was.

Mentee:
Five hundred dollars? That's what he gets? (Laughs.) That's not much. That's not nearly enough. Especially when you think of the time involved.

Although stipends are rarely seen as incentive enough for mentors, rewarding them more appropriately could make mentees feel less guilty about demanding their time and attention.

Once a mentor has proven his or her abilities as a peer teacher, administrators tend to use them over and over. Because mentors want to perpetuate and serve their profession, they frequently agree to serve more often than they should. The mentors in this study were functioning at high stress levels on a regular basis, being responsible not only for their own obligations and deadlines, but also for their charge's expectations.

Perceptions of How the Mentoring Processes Might Be Improved

Elements identified in focus group discussions as being essential to effective mentoring included satisfactorily matching mentor to mentee, connecting mentors with mentees as quickly as possible, setting expectations and objectives for the relationship's outcome, providing a sense of reciprocity and adequate compensation, and coping with the consumption of the mentor's time. To address satisfactory matching of mentee to mentor, administrators were encouraged to pair based on personality compatibility, program delivery similarity, ability level of students, proximity of classrooms, and availability of mentor to mentee.

A nearly unanimous plea came from the new teachers that mentoring begin at the onset of employment. New teachers have immediate needs and desperately seek answers and quick fixes. In this study, one teacher was hired the day before classes started and two were employed three weeks after classes started. Only one of those was provided with a mentor at the onset. Three worked "seven or eight weeks" without an official resource person to help them get through the rough spots. To avoid the panic a new teacher senses, a mentor must be ready to interact early. Teachers suggested that mentee-mentor connections be formed before classes begin -- preferably at the time of employment and in time to give advice in setting up classrooms, labs, and curriculum.

Mentees sometimes expressed concern because their classroom environments required that they operate equipment with which they were unfamiliar. Some mentees had outside contacts and could find assistance on their own; others could not. The latter turned to their handiest source of information -- their mentors. When mentors were unable to provide assistance with equipment or trade-related problems, they were placed in stressful situations. To avoid this difficulty, administrators suggested the possibility of adding an industry specific mentor from the beginner's advisory committee to assist with technical obstacles.

Establishing expectations and objectives was a recurring theme with mentors and mentees alike. Administrators admitted they needed to be more specific with mentoring partnerships in setting goals. Follow-up is always considered an important component of education and should have an important place in this situation as well. Team members stated that follow-up meetings could serve as opportunities to remind novices of deadlines, provide feedback, identify difficulties, and assess progress. It would also provide opportunity to share with mentees the reciprocal benefits mentors experienced.

Finally, coping with the consumption of the mentor's time was a factor all mentees felt guilty about and all mentors wanted to solve. Providing a second mentor, a mentor from industry, or identifying a bevy of experts across campus for mentors to tag for assistance all seemed to be viable strategies participants agreed would alleviate the load placed on mentors.

Summary and Recommendations

Beginning trade and industrial teachers, their mentors, and their instructional supervisors participating in this case study concurred that mentoring relationships for new teachers are important for new teacher survival and socialization. Findings from this study indicate that structuring teams with appropriate matching of novices to veterans for the purpose of mentoring is beneficial to both parties. However, if elements like availability, accessibility, similarity in programs and student learning ability, proximity, identification of roles and responsibilities, and the establishment of objectives are missing from mentoring relationships, the benefits become less profound. Additionally, if mentees are concerned that they are imposing too much, questions remain unasked despite their importance. Stipends received by mentors often are identified as "too small" by mentees. Mentors, on the other hand, noted that payments were "not necessary, but appreciated."

Recommendations for Practice

This study yielded the following recommendations for practice and for further research:

  1. Whenever a mentor pool is available to mentees, they should be provided an opportunity to be involved in mentor selection. If an adequate supply of mentors is available within a school to form a pool, mentor candidates' participation in new teacher employment selection interviews should be sought. In this way an association could begin to be formed even before employment, and mentor/mentee personality meshing may be more likely to occur. Furthermore, it is critical that a mentor be identified as early as possible so the new teacher can have access to that resource person at the onset of employment.
  2. An initial meeting between instructional supervisor, mentor, and mentee should be scheduled in a democratic setting. Within that meeting, objectives should be drawn and precise roles and responsibilities of all team members identified. In this way the educators could focus on growth together. Again, this should occur as quickly as possible to ensure proper direction for all team members. Mentors should not be expected to fulfill roles or perform functions within the relationship that might destroy the trust factor (i.e., be asked to divulge privileged information or to serve in an evaluative role resulting in renewal or non-renewal of the new teacher's contract). When each new member is fully aware of roles, responsibilities, and objectives, the mentoring relationship will function more effectively.
  3. Mentees and mentors should schedule frequent and regular meetings to share problems and concerns and to acquire feedback. These meetings should focus clearly on an agenda to assist the new teacher in meeting deadlines and teaching requirements. By tackling problems before they reach emergency status, the mentee would also be gaining valuable time-management skills and the mentor would experience fewer untimely interruptions from the mentee.
  4. Mentors should be accessible, but there are times when maintaining that availability is impossible. When a mentor cannot spare time to assist the new teacher, or feels inept with handling certain situations, a list of resources or other experts on campus must be in place for the mentor's use. If the mentor must be away, the mentee should be directed to an interim adviser. Assignment to a second mentor on campus, in industry, or at a nearby school is a consideration that could alleviate mentor overload and mentee abandonment. Mentors should never be "protected" from their mentees' questions by teaching assistants or other staff members. It is important that newcomers never feel their needs are being ignored.
  5. Pro-active training, offered in advance of need, should be provided to adequately inform the administrator, mentor, and mentee of their respective roles. Mentors should be supplied with coping skills including, but not limited to, time management, conflict resolution, critical listening, constructive criticism, and feedback. Specialized skills like observation and formative evaluation should be finely honed when such roles are prescribed in the stated objectives. Mentors should not be overused or taken advantage of, because it may easily lead to mentor burnout, and even worse, teacher burnout.
  6. Follow-up meetings in which the instructional supervisor, mentor, and mentee collectively offer feedback and follow-up should also be conducted. These meetings, perhaps held quarterly, should require input from all parties to identify and share strengths, weaknesses, and concerns. This strategy would allow for redirection of efforts or specialized training, if necessary, and recognize growth in both mentee and mentor. This implementation could offer encouragement to the mentee and mentor and allow the former to see reciprocity within the connection.
  7. Finding the time for the activities listed above will generate additional problems related to already time-starved partnerships. Therefore, mentoring teams will be required to plan in new ways. Meetings may need to be held over breakfast or lunch. Substitute teachers may need to take mentor's and mentee's classes to open up planning periods in which the duos could work together. Volunteers from staff within the school (e.g., placement counselors who would teach about employability skills, safety officers who could teach vocational safety aspects, etc.) or community volunteers (e.g., Toastmaster International members who could teach communication skills, advisory committee members who could teach about industry trends and employment needs, etc.) could be used to cover classes, freeing teachers for mentoring meetings. Such efforts would benefit members within the teams, students, school, and community.

Recommendations for Further Research

This case study has provided a description of perceptions held by mentoring triads within Oklahoma's new T&I teacher mentoring initiative. Although a great deal of information is available relating to mentoring efforts in general, very little exists in vocational education arenas. Thus, this study adds to the limited resources banked in T&I education research. Additional research is encouraged, particularly in the areas of informal versus formal mentoring, setting objectives for mentoring relationships, mentor/mentee matching, accessibility difficulties, paired mentoring efforts, time spans regarding mentoring relationship initiation and duration, reciprocity, and more. Additionally, research focused on mentoring trends and outcomes within other vocational fields is recommended.

Author

Osgood is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational and Technology Education at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, OK.

References

Aaronson, E. (1996). Going against the grain: Supporting the student-centered teacher. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Dean, H. (1992). A resource guide: Mentoring in Vermont. Montpelier, VT: Vermont State Board of Education.

Enz, B.J. (1992). Guidelines for selecting mentors and creating an environment for mentoring. In T. Bey (Ed.), Issues and Aspects of Mentoring. Reston, VA: Association of Teacher Educators.

Gratch, A. (1998). Beginning teachers and mentor relationships. Journal of Teacher Education. 49(3), 220-226.

Halford, J.M. (1998). Easing the way for new teachers. Educational Leadership. 55 (5), 33-36.

Heath-Camp, B., Camp, W.G., & Adams, E. (1993). On becoming a Teacher: A comprehensive induction assistance model for beginning vocational teachers. Occupational Education Forum. 19(1), 6-16.

Heath-Camp, B. & Camp, W.G. (1990). Induction experiences and needs of beginning vocational teachers without teacher education backgrounds. Occupational Education Forum. 19 (1), 6-16.

Hoffman, J.V., Edwards, S.A., O'Neal, S., Barnes, S., & Paulisson, M. (1986). A study of state-mandated beginning teacher programs. Journal of Teacher Education. 37 (1), 16-21.

Johnson, S. (1997). Techniques and tips for mentors of new teachers. Paper presented at the Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technical Education Mentor and Instructional Leader Workshop, Stillwater OK

Merriam, S.B. (1988). Case study research in education: A qualitative approach. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Otto, M.L. (1994). Mentoring: an adult development perspective. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 57, 15-23.

Paese, P.C. (1990). A review of teacher induction; Are special programs needed for beginning physical education teachers? The Physical Educator, 47(3), 159-165.

Reiman, A.J., Head, F.A., & Theis-Sprinthall, L. (1992). Collaboration and mentoring. In T. Bey & C. Holmes (Eds.), Mentoring: Contemporary principles and issues (pp. 5-34). Reston, VA: Association of Teacher Educators.

Robinson,V. (1993). Organizing effective school-based mentoring programs. Alexandria, VA: National Association of Partners in Education.

Stake, R.E. (1995). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage Publications.

Warner, K. (1997). Designing your local mentoring program. Mentor/Instructional Leader Workshop Manual. Stillwater, OK: Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technical Education

Yin, R.K. (1994). Case study research: Design and methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Appendix A

Scripted questions for participants in face-to-face interviews

The following questions, categorized by round and respondents, were asked in face-to-face interviews.

First round - Mentees

  • Describe your occupational experiences. To what extent are your previous experiences related to teaching?
  • Describe your educational experiences. To what extent are your previous educational experiences related to teaching?
  • What characteristics should a mentor possess?
  • What do you perceive the roles and responsibilities of a mentor to be?
  • Why do you think your particular mentor was assigned to you?
  • What are your expectations of the mentoring relationship?

First round - Mentors

  • Describe your occupational and educational experiences.
  • What characteristics should a mentor possess?
  • What do you perceive the roles and responsibilities of a mentor to be?
  • Why do you think you were selected as a mentor?
  • What are your expectations of the mentoring relationship?

First round - Instructional supervisors

  • What characteristics should a mentor possess?
  • What do you perceive the roles and responsibilities of a mentor to be?
  • Why did you assign this particular mentor to the mentee?
  • What are your expectations of the mentoring relationship?

Second round - Mentees

  • How has your perception of the roles and responsibilities of a mentor changed?
  • Discuss strengths and limitations of the mentoring relationship.
  • How are your expectations of the mentoring relationship being met?
  • How has this relationship helped you meet your challenges and achieve success, at this point?

Second round - Mentors

  • How has your perception of the roles and responsibilities of a mentor changed?
  • Discuss strengths and limitations of the mentoring relationship.
  • How have your expectations of the mentoring relationship changed?
  • At this point, what have been the relationship's challenges and successes?

Second round - Instructional supervisors

  • How has your perception of the roles and responsibilities of a mentor changed?
  • Discuss strengths and limitations of the mentoring relationship.
  • How have your expectations of the mentoring relationship changed?
  • At this point, what have been the relationship's challenges and successes?

Final round - Mentees

  • How did the mentoring process make your year more successful?
  • What are the successes associated with the relationship?
  • What were the challenges associated with the relationship?'
  • Were your expectations of the mentoring process met and why or why not?

Final round - Mentors

  • How did the mentoring process make your year and the beginning new teacher's year more successful?
  • What are the successes associated with the relationship?
  • What were the challenges associated with the relationship?
  • To what extent were your expectations of the mentoring process met or not met and why?
  • What rewards and/or incentives did you receive?

Final round - Instructional leaders

  • How did the mentoring process make your year and the beginning new teacher's year more successful?
  • What were the successes associated with the relationship?
  • What were the challenges associated with the relationship?
  • To what extent were your expectations of the mentoring process met or not met and why?
  • What changes(s) will you make in future beginning teacher induction efforts?

Appendix B

Questions asked in focus groups of members of mentoring teams

The following questions, categorized by respondent groups, were asked in focus group settings. Although some questions appear to be similar to face-to-face interview questions, group dynamics elicited deeper and more reflective thought and dialogue.

Focus Group - All Six Mentees

  • Discuss the advantages you experienced in your mentoring relationship.
  • Discuss the limitations you discovered in your mentoring relationship.
  • Discuss the successes and the challenges in your relationship with your mentor.
  • If you were asked to serve as a mentor, what factors would you consider before making the commitment?

Focus Group - All Six Mentors

  • Discuss the advantages you experienced in your mentoring relationship.
  • Discuss the limitations you discovered in your mentoring relationship.
  • Discuss the successes and the challenges in your relationship with your mentor.
  • What factors would you consider before you agreed to enter into another mentoring relationship?

Focus Group - Mixed Mentor/Mentee/Supervisors/ODVTE Trade Specialist
Note: Members of this group will consisted of one person from each mentoring team and a trade specialist from an area other than that in which the mentees were involved.

  • What were the advantages of the mentoring relationship in which you were involved?
  • What were the limitations of the mentoring relationship in which you were involved?
  • What successes/challenges are attributable to the mentoring relationship?
  • What conditions or preliminary knowledge might have improved the mentoring experience?
  • Based on your current knowledge and experience, how valuable is the mentoring activity for the beginning teacher? For the mentor? For the instructional supervisor?

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