The Role of Mentoring in Supporting Teachers as Researchers: Case Studies of Change in Primary Schools
This paper describes the process of mentoring in an advanced seminar graduate course and examines its function in supporting teacher research in public primary schools. It documents the role of teacher research as a means for justification and implementation of Developmentally Appropriate Practice, as defined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, in districts that adhere to direct instructional methods. It examines the strengths and weaknesses in action research as a mode for educational change, and it focuses on whether research mentoring enables the professional and personal development of teachers. It also discusses techniques in educational mentoring that can assist teacher researchers as they work toward instructional change and as they disseminate and seek acceptance and support of their findings. It includes case studies of teachers who have been able to achieve significant changes in educational practice through action research. These case studies document innovative procedures and outcomes and their impact. It also shows how research mentoring can enable teachers to communicate their knowledge through a variety of outlets. In conclusion, it suggests the need for teachers to engage in collaborative inquiry in partnership with college/university based research mentors in order to build a foundation within the education profession for sustaining ongoing inquiry and promoting best practices for children.
Keywords: Teacher Research, Mentoring, Professional Development, Teacher Education, Educational Change
Dr. Polly Ashelman
Professor, Department of Early Childhood and Family Studies, Kean University