Professional experience, mentoring and transformative spaces in initial teacher education: a praxis perspective

Year: 2016

Author: Hadley, Fay, Kelly, Nick, Talbot, Debra, O'Brien, Mia

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper describes the praxis of mentoring in order to provide a foundation for exploring the potential of non-traditional mentoring arrangements, such as online and group mentoring. We draw upon Freire and Habermas to establish a foundation of what is meant by a quality of praxis in mentoring: What does a high quality praxis of mentoring look like, and how does it translate into non-traditional arrangements?Existing frameworks for mentoring (e.g., Hudson 2004) describe the current paradigm of one-to-one, predominantly face-to-face, mentorship. Using the literature we distil the essence of the mentoring relationship; establish the conditions necessary for it to flourish; and discuss the root needs of autonomy, competence and connection for both mentor and mentee (Ryan & Deci 2008). We argue why there is a need to talk more about socio-cultural context, philosophy and ethics when we talk about mentorship – for mentees and mentors.The paper provides examples of how some of these principles have been actioned in the non-traditional mentoring relationships developed in the TeachConnect platform through peer mentoring, one-to-one online mentoring, mentor education, and group online mentoring – where TeachConnect is an online state-wide platform to support teachers in Queensland as they enter and flourish in the teaching profession.We attempt to trouble the existing paradigm of mentorship by discussing the multiple perspectives that have been encountered on controversial topics during our research: Is group online mentoring really mentoring? How can or should quality of praxis be established in both formal and informal mentorship programs? On what basis does or should the “gatekeeping” of who becomes a mentor occur?