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Strengths and weaknesses of the articles
Mentoring teachers seems to be one of the most important concepts in education. It is not always possible for tutors to choose an appropriate approach and teach students in a good way.
This is why it seems to be helpful and rather effective to promote the development of special mentoring programs during which teachers will be able to improve their skills and learn how to develop their activities.
In this paper, five different articles about mentoring teachers will be discussed. Each project is a unique approach to understand the essence of the mentoring process and the urgency of activities offered to tutors. It is never too late to think about self-improvement, and mentoring teachers programs are good options to rely on.
Mary Oliver and her team create a captivating article about the mentoring program for teachers and the impact of the offered activities on the educational process. The peculiar feature of this article is that the authors focus on early career of a teacher and the necessity to mentor new teachers to cope with the duties set.
It is not that easy to start being a good teacher: many emotions may prevent achieving good results, some psychological aspects are touched upon, and inability to plan time properly.
38 mentee teachers have been questioned as a result of which they share the following information: “where they taught, work experience at school, why they wanted to join the mentoring program, what they enjoyed about teaching and what they need in the way of professional support” (Oliver et al., 2009, 7).
The strong point of this article is all about personal attitude and attention to human emotions. The authors make a successful attempt to investigate what the participants think about the mentoring program and whether they find it beneficial.
Still, the absence of solid theoretical background weakens the article a bit. Additional information about the importance of the program and a variety of programs’ forms could make the paper a more powerful source of information.
The article of Carter and Francis discloses the peculiarities of mentoring programs in a very good way. The authors make a decision to create an article in the form of a literature review by means of which mentoring and professional learning of a teacher-beginner are evaluated.
Qualitative and quantitative information is offered in the article. There are many reliable sources of information and researches which help to understand the worth of mentoring.
In spite of the fact that the authors prove that “mentoring relations make very important contributions to the induction experience of beginning teachers” (Carter & Francis, 2001, p. 259), some weakness are still observed in the article.
One of the most evident shortages of the article is generalization of the facts. Carter and Francis present interesting facts about mentoring, still, they mention that some writers or researchers offer the chosen idea too often.
The decision to investigate the activities taken by the New South Wales government schools and use such analysis like MANOVA or ANOVA makes the paper stronger and rather helpful to the reader because not all writers are ready to measure their works by several analyses only.
In comparison to previous articles, the authors of the article “Facilitating the professional learning of new teachers through critical reflection on practice during mentoring meetings” chose one particular research project for the analysis.
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The measurements chosen for this article have reasonable backgrounds: it becomes an interesting idea to focus on a particular situation with particular participants and the changes which take place around. Mentoring practice has to be critically reflective, this is certain attention is paid to dialogues between a mentor and a mentee during which reflections may be developed.
Even if the decision to limit the investigations and focus on a particular case study may be regarded as the main weakness of the article, careful attitude to the details and use of theoretical and practical knowledge make this article stronger in comparison to other sources evaluated.
In addition to clear descriptions of some activities of the program, several personal opinions are taken into consideration. With the help of such article, the reader is able to understand how the program has to be implemented and what outcomes may be expected.
There are many factors which may influence the development of a new mentoring program, and Flynn and Nolan in the article “Mentor Program: What Lessons Can Be Learned?” introduce the one connected to state regulations.
The strong point of this article is that the authors research the field of state regulations in order to identify the justifications with the help of which it is possible to “cut funding and incrementally dismantle a model program” (Flynn & Nolan, 2004, p. 173).
Several programs are taken into consideration to study the reasons of their rise and fall. Though it was proved that the protection of such programs have to be organized by the state and give several credible reasons, the main weakness of this article is that the authors do not find it necessary to consider public opinion and the emotions of ordinary teachers caused by mentoring programs. Attention to the state’s role in the program is not always enough for a successful idea.
Finally, the peculiar feature of the article by Donald Norman and Tom Ganser is all about the humanistic concepts which are used to define the relations between mentor and mentee.
In comparison to other articles described in this paper, this work seems to be a successful example of a descriptive project with the help of which the reader is able to analyze the peculiarities of mentoring programs.
The authors state that it is very important to focus on teaching skills and the ways of how these skills are delivered to beginning teachers. “Passion and emotion involved in good teaching apply to good mentoring as well and that the counseling dimensions of mentoring are the heart of the power of mentoring for mentor and mentee alike” (Norman & Ganser, 2004, p. 138).
Comparison of the articles
The findings of all five articles under consideration have a number of similarities and differences at the same time. On the one hand, all articles prove that mentoring of teachers plays an important role in the educational process.
Tutors should have an access to the activities with the help of which they understand how to improve their job, develop proper communication with students, and organize their working hours. Of course, the main duty of any teacher is to educate students.
However, sometimes, teachers are also in need of some education. This is why mentoring programs are in demand and have to be improved in a variety of ways. The findings prove that it is possible to take some steps and improve the existing mentoring programs, still, the methods of how information has to be analyzed may vary.
For example, Carter and Francis rely on MANOVA and ANOVA approaches with the help of which review of recent literature is possible. Any other authors do not want to measure their investigations this way.
The success of the method chosen by Oliver is also evident: in comparison to other researches, this research is primary and describes the opinions of the participants as soon as the program was offered to them.
Though all researches are qualitative as they aim at understanding teachers’ behavior and problems they face being the beginners in their profession, research methods have different goals and forms.
Flynn and Nolan offer constructive research with the help of which they develop the solutions to the existing problems of mentoring programs by means of evaluating careful observations of several examples.
Empirical research of Harrison, Lawson, and Wortley helps to identify the new ways of how teachers may increase professional autonomy and succeed in the chosen field.
And Norman and Ganser, in their turn, introduce exploratory research in the process of which they ask questions identify new problems of mentoring programs. Their methodology is one of the most powerful examples of how the chosen concept may be evaluated.
Certain attention should be paid to the credibility of the information offered in the articles. The first reason of why the chosen articles are credible is the use of the sources which have already been implemented into practice. To prove the correctness of the chosen ideas, the authors use their independent investigations and share the opinions of people who were involved into mentoring programs.
The second reason of why the chosen articles are worth reader’s attention is that the majority of authors make a decision to combine practical and theoretical approaches. These approaches are used in order to explain that some problems may be still observed in mentoring programs and have to be solved by means of special funding and social innovations.
Synthesis of the comparison
With the help of the comparison conducted and the description of the articles, their weak and strong points, and their impact on the field of education, a considerable contribution has been made. The analysis of the ideas offered helps to clear up the challenges which are dangerous for beginning teachers and the solutions which can be made accordingly.
Five articles are written by different articles in order to prove that mentoring teachers is an important part of the educational process.
As a result of the comparison, it becomes clear that Oliver’s article is one of the most emotionally-colored as the opinions of the participants of the program are considered; Norman and Ganser’s work aims at describing the relations between mentors and mentees; Flynn and Nolan pay special attention to the conditions under which future teachers have to live and work, and the ideas of Carter, Francis, Harrison, Lawson, and Wortley are similar as they find it obligatory to use real cases and use particular methods for their analysis.
In general, it is possible to say that in spite of the nature of the method chosen or the case discussed, the truth remains the same: mentoring teaching has to be supported and improved as new conditions requires new improvements to achieve the desirable purpose and succeed in educating.
Carter, M., & Francis, R. (2001). Mentoring and Beginning Teachers’ Workplace Learning. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 29(3), 249-262. doi:10.1080/13598660120091856.
Flynn, G. V., & Nolan, B. (2008). The Rise and Fall of a Successful Mentor Program: What Lessons Can Be Learned?. Clearing House, 81(4), 173-179. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Harrison, J., Lawson, T., & Wortley, A. (2005). Facilitating the professional learning of new teachers through critical reflection on practice during mentoring meetings. European Journal of Teacher Education, 28(3), 267-292. doi:10.1080/02619760500269392.
Norman, D. M., & Ganser, T. (2004). A Humanistic Approach to New Teacher Mentoring: A Counseling Perspective. Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education & Development, 43(2), 129-140. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Oliver, M. (2009). Listening to the learners: Mentee’s perspectives of a mentoring program for first-year science teachers. Teaching Science – the Journal of the Australian Science Teachers Association, 55(4), 6-11. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.