Volume 13 Issue 1 (2024)

School-Based Teacher Mentoring – Further Evidence for the “Cinderella” Metaphor?

pp. 15-34  |  Published Online: February 2024  |  DOI: 10.22521/edupij.2024.131.2

Carl Wilkinson


Background/purpose. There exists a desire to provide schoolteachers with mentors. In English schools, school-based mentors are mandatory for schools participating in Initial Teacher Education and the Early Career Framework. The purpose of this study is to highlight the need for a professional mentoring capacity within schools without burdening existing teachers’ already stretched workload. To that end, a case study of secondary school mathematics teachers acting as early career teacher mentors were interviewed in order to ascertain whether they were officially recognized as school-based mentors. The participants were asked whether they held a title as a mentor, and their responses analyzed and interpreted according to Miles et al.’s (2020) “think display” visualization.

Materials/methods. The literature has previously used the “Cinderella” metaphor to describe the role of school-based mentors. This study pursues this analogy to interpret school-based mentors’ qualitative responses to juxtapose the metaphor in relation to schoolteacher recruitment and retention coupled to an extrinsic motivating factor to provide school-based teacher mentoring. Seven school-based mentors were interviewed separately within their own practice schools. Audio recordings and transcriptions of the interviews were shared with each respective participant for their approval and to check for accuracy, and each were also given the opportunity to withdraw from the study at every sequence, following the ethics agreement laid out by the researcher’s university. The collected data were analyzed according to Miles et al.’s (2020) “think display” technique and a constructivist interpretation following research by Knapp (2019) to integrate theories of mentoring exposed by Kemmis et al. (2014).

Results. The study founds that most teachers acting as mentors were extrinsically charged to fulfill the role since their employing school participated in initial and early career teacher provision. None of the participating teachers held a specific title of mentor as reward for their endeavor. This case study consisted of seven participants from seven different schools, and although small, the participant group was homogenous and therefore representative so as to interpret the phenomenon. The findings were then used to make predictions that could affect the success of mentoring programs for teachers.

Conclusion. The study intended to add further evidence of the ethnomethodological actions of teacher mentoring in order to create an understanding of the profession in daily life. School teacher mentoring is seen as an effective way to support teachers, but if mentors are not recognized or rewarded the provision is at risk of becoming a cottage industry and unlikely to become common practice without being made mandatory. Governments may have act with good intent, but often their solutions are a one-size-fits-all approach and lack sufficient financial incentive. Teacher recruitment and retention is crucial to a government’s education policy and therefore critical that strategies imposed upon teachers do not negatively impact upon their well-being or existing workload. This original case study aims to add to the empirical evidence existing in the field of teacher mentoring.

Keywords: Mentor, Cinderella, intrinsic, extrinsic, ancillary


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