Professional Distance-Mentoring Of Beginning Design And Technology Home Economics Teachers
Society for the Provision of Education in Rural Australia
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education/Centre for Schooling and Learning Technologies
This paper reports a research project that was conducted in 2009 and 2010 to support new teachers in the areas of Design and Technology and Home Economics. As a result of a retraining program, teachers in these areas were posted to remote schools, and the concern was that the combined difficulties of a new teaching area and a remote location would result in a high attrition rate. A mentoring program was established by linking experienced teachers with these new teachers and facilitating organized communication between them. The nature and frequency of the communication was monitored, resulting in conclusions that the program was beneficial for both the experienced teachers as mentors and the new teachers as mentees. Highly prized by the mentees were the quality resources they received electronically from their mentors, and this was especially the case for those in the more remote locations. The mentors expressed appreciation at being able to give something back to the profession in terms of supporting these new graduates, and some mentors believed that the process assisted them with their own teaching by providing them with the opportunity to reflect on the problems faced by the mentee. There were critical times of need for the mentees each school term with weeks one, six, and seven being the weeks that the most contacts were made over the course of the six school-terms of the project. The major topics that were discussed most frequently over the course of the six school-terms of the project were, in order, teaching ideas and strategies, accessing good resources, classroom routines or procedures, assistance with academic content, and behaviour management issues. Overall, the evaluation of the early support program demonstrated that professional distance-mentoring is an effective way of encouraging and assisting new teachers placed in remote schools, and there is strong evidence that such a program can assist to build teacher confidence and self-efficacy.