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Specialist Classroom Teacher Mentoring and Knowledge Generativity: Exploring trust, support, challenge, risk-taking, and confidence.

The Specialist Classroom Teacher (SCT) position involves a mentoring function that is an integral part of mentoring and induction programmes for teacher-mentees in secondary and area schools in New Zealand. SCT-mentor and teacher-mentee relationships should be confidential and high trust relationships and should involve professional growth for each teacher-mentee as an increase in capacity. This small scale qualitative study involves three purposefully selected cases each of which comprises a SCT-mentor working collaboratively with a teacher-mentee. Challenge, for professional growth as generativity of new practice and/or knowledge for the mentee, should be evident within the mentoring relationship. This study begins by examining documentation on the SCT position and how the position relates to mentoring for generativity. A conceptual model provides a focus for the review of the literature because it identifies some of the key concepts initially considered to be central to mentor-mentee interactions. These concepts include trust, support, risk-taking, and challenge, and to these is added confidence because this concept emerged in the data. Primary data is collected from two naturally occurring mentoring meetings involving each SCT-mentor and teacher-mentee only. This data is analysed and used to formulate questions for one semi-structured interview involving the researcher and each participant pair for each case. Participant perceptions of the concepts and concept interactions within each relationship are sought from interpretive and phenomenological approaches within the interviews. Whereas there is a major focus on support as a mentoring function in the literature, this study found that trust is the basis of each mentoring relationship and that trust underpins the generative process. Discussion centres on the relationship between trust and support, and significantly confidence emerged as a concept that leads to risk-taking behaviour. This emergence of confidence necessitated a revision of the conceptual model presented in the conclusion. Some key points in the discussion and conclusion are: appropriate challenge, static and futuristic support, fields of support, reflective dialogue using tools such as parallel conversations , and realisations pertaining to the 'conscious competence learning model'. This study suggests a shift in focus in the literature from support functions of SCT-mentors to trust building functions because trust-based mentoring relationships are more likely to endure, and are more likely to underpin greater risk-taking behaviours. This study questions the notion that 'deepest trust' through value congruence is the deepest form of trust, suggesting that 'acceptance of different values' represents a 'highest form of trust'.
Type of thesis
Atkins, S. G. (2012). Specialist Classroom Teacher Mentoring and Knowledge Generativity: Exploring trust, support, challenge, risk-taking, and confidence. (Thesis, Master of Educational Leadership (MEdLeadership)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/6365
University of Waikato
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