"We’re Just Kind of Walking Side by Side”: Music Teacher Mentor/Mentee Relationships in Connecticut’s Teacher Education and Mentoring Program (TEAM)

Open Access
Author:
Weimer, Kristina Richelle
Graduate Program:
Music Education
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
February 28, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Linda Thornton, Dissertation Advisor
  • Linda Thornton, Committee Chair
  • Darrin Thornton, Committee Member
  • Joanne Rutkowski, Committee Member
  • E. Frances Arbaugh, Outside Member
Keywords:
  • mentoring
  • novice teachers
  • induction
  • mentoring relationships
  • mentors
  • mentees
  • novice music teachers
  • mentoring program
Abstract:
Mentoring is an essential component of novice teacher development, providing opportunities for more experienced teachers to guide the development of novice teachers. The mentoring relationship gives support and guidance to novices by helping them grow professionally, helping mentors become more reflective educators, and reducing feelings of isolation. Mentoring’s overall effectiveness is determined by the quality of the relationship. Mentoring programs can fail because of a lack of interpersonal mentor/mentee relationships. A greater emphasis on the mentoring relationship would be beneficial to more effective mentoring overall. The purpose of this multiple case study was to examine the relationships between music teacher mentors and mentees within the context of Connecticut’s state-wide novice teacher induction program, Teacher Education and Mentoring Program (TEAM), a two-year induction program for beginning teachers that includes mentoring and professional development. This study sought to understand how participants described their relationships, what was meaningful in the relationships, and the impact of these relationships on professional growth and development. Each case was a music teacher mentor mentee pair in their second year of the mentor/mentee TEAM relationship; there were two cases for a total of four participants. Second year teachers were selected to focus on the established relationships, rather than the experience of creating relationships. Data were gathered from five journal entries, three individual interviews, and one joint interview with the mentor/mentee pair. Data collection and analysis were designed to gather rich data about each case (the mentor/mentee pair) and the individual participants (the unit of analysis). Data were analyzed and presented first by detailing the mentoring relationship of each case, and second through cross-case analysis. Emergent themes were: roles and responsibilities in the relationship, trust, communication, judgment, reciprocity, personal aspects, and the challenges of time and proximity. Findings revealed that mentors and mentees believed they had specific roles and responsibilities in the relationship. Mentors established trust and communication early in the relationship and provided support without judgment. This helped the mentees feel comfortable approaching the mentors with questions and challenges. Both relationships were collaborative and reciprocal. The mentoring relationship helped combat feelings of isolation for all participants. Although each relationship was successful, time and proximity were challenges in both relationships. Roles and responsibilities must be communicated early in the relationship to foster success. Mentors must be dedicated to the professional growth of the mentee, and properly prepared to take on their role. Observing and providing feedback via video can be beneficial when mentors and mentees are not in close proximity and time to observe in person is not possible. Mentoring relationships should continue to be examined with pairs in various proximities—same school, same district but different schools, or across districts or even states. Future research should also continue examining music teacher mentor/mentee relationships where mentor and mentee are matched in various ways—music teacher mentor with non-music teacher mentee, non-music teacher mentor with music teacher mentee, and music teacher mentor with music teacher mentee.