Early childhood teachers/educators experiences of mentoring and leadership

Year: 2018

Author: Grieshaber, Sue, Fox, Jillian

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Mentoring is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person to explore and build their potential. Whilst mentoring definitions across disciplines abound, numerous models of mentoring have produced benefits and positive outcomes for both mentors and mentees. In Education, much of the research has centred on ‘induction and mentoring’, that is, preservice teachers and their enculturation into the profession with the support of mentor teachers. Given the imperative to develop robust frameworks that support early childhood teachers’ professional growth and the requirement for all long day care centres to appoint an educational leader, this exploratory investigation probed the relationship between mentoring and leadership. We are interested in exploring connections between mentoring and leadership because of the potential for mentoring to be an effective tool to build leadership practices in early childhood contexts, and the seemingly lack of association between these factors in the early childhood leadership literature.
In this exploratory study semi-structured individual interviews were undertaken with 10 early childhood educators in long day care centres to learn about their experiences of mentoring, leadership, and connections between mentoring and leadership. Preliminary findings indicate that understandings and experiences of both formal and informal mentoring are wide-ranging, as are understandings and experiences of leadership. In terms of connections between mentoring and leadership, the presentation draws on data to show some of the understandings and experiences that existed and suggests ways in which educators might capitalise on these connections to enhance both mentoring and leadership abilities in early childhood education.