Mentoring: Bridging the identity crisis for beginning teachers

Year: 2003

Author: Peeler, Eleanor, Jane, Beverley

Type of paper: Refereed paper

New teachers who enter Australian educational systems must acquire suitable knowledge that enables them to function effectively as a teacher here. Whether they are beginning teachers or overseas born professionals new to the system, mere transfer of knowledge does not suffice; neither does it satisfy their professional perception of self. While beginning teachers lack knowledge about teaching and learning, teachers born and trained overseas lack culturally specific educational knowledge. These shortfalls can initiate unforseen dilemmas for their professional development and shifts in their definition of self. Acquiring new knowledge requires teachers to understand the social knowledge of learning and teaching in local contexts and to apply this appropriately. Mentoring relationships are a means of bridging the gap between the newcomers' former ways of knowing and current practice, thus mobilising their capacity to operate effectively as a teacher in their new contexts and develop a positive professional identity. In this paper our conversation draws on experiences of two studies, one involving interviews with overseas born teachers, the other a mentoring initiative that facilitated beginning teachers' transition to university life.