The process of mentoring: a close look at the context, the content, and the influence of mentoring

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Virginia Tech


In efforts to bridge the gap between the conceptualized theories about mentoring and the realities in progress, this study looks closely to the process of mentoring. Six veteran teachers and their beginning teacher partners were observed during their mentoring sessions, which were the basis of one public school district mentor program.

Three issues were addressed: the context of mentoring, the circumstances and conditions in which the mentoring occurred; the content of the discussions between mentors and beginning teachers, the types and degree of thought and interaction during mentoring; the nature of any influence that the mentoring experience had upon the mentor, ‘The mentoring sets met at similar times and places, after school in a classroom; however, the contexts in which they met differed in that each set established a unique tone, The mentoring sets discussed the same topics, the classroom, the school, the BTAP, and personal matters; however, the content of their conversations differed in that the interaction between the teachers in each set was unique. The veteran teachers in each set reported being influenced by the mentoring relationship.

The three issues were discussed separately but the connection between them is apparent and the effect that the context and the content of the mentoring relationships had on the influence that was felt by the mentor is summarized. Conclusions about the dynamic nature of mentoring relationships and suggestions for future mentoring programs are included.