Building capacity together: growing a culture of collaboration through mentorship
This research design has been carefully crafted with current literature around new teachers’ experiences, adult learning theory and models for mentorship in mind. The primary objective of this design was to align existing high-quality structures and practices from a school district in B.C. to develop a coherent, research-based framework for mentorship that is both sustainable and supports new or early-career teachers thrive as they transition into the dynamic and complex profession. A research design focused on mentorship is necessary given the current state of induction practices, including mentorship, across our province, which are inconsistent and can lack formalized support and structure for new educators. In fact, a recent Canada-wide survey of new teachers has found that the most significant professional need identified was mentorship (Karsenti & Collin, 2013). These results are not surprising, given that new teachers assume the same responsibilities and workload as their experienced colleagues, with the expectations of performing the role to level of efficiency and effectiveness as a veteran practitioner, with little to no support (Cherubini, L., 2007; Kardos & Johnson, 2010; Kutsyuruba et al., 2013, Servage & Beck, 2013). Research has illustrated that these first years of teaching have a significant long-term impact in relation to teacher effectiveness, job satisfaction, and career length (Bartell, 2004). The negative impact of factors such as isolation, on teacher effectiveness during these early days can be mitigated through a support network that promotes collaborative inquiry into teaching and learning, with student achievement at the heart of collegial dialogue. There is extensive research around the benefits of mentorship to teachers, the students, organization and the profession as a whole. The intention of this design is to act as a catalyst to bring stakeholders to the table and springboard into further visioning and discussions as to what mentorship could look like to align and meet the needs of an individual school district. The ultimate hope is that mentorship grows from an initial program to permeating our professional organization such that mentoring is “owned” by everyone – it becomes a way of being and learning together.