Volume:9, Issue: 2

Sep. 30, 2017

Articles by #getArticle.ind_name#
Unintended Influence: How the Teacher Candidate’s Beliefs about Student Achievement are Impacted by the Mentor’s Language and Context
Heiney-Smith, Jill R. [about]
Regardless of the program, the grade level and content, and even the school itself, the student teaching practicum is inarguably influential in the development of the novice teacher. Teacher Candidates (TCs) project their need for synthesis of theory and practice onto their mentor, dreaming of a match in personality, pedagogical approach and communication style. The mentor signs up for a variety of reasons, including the desire to “pay it forward” and, according to an unpublished ongoing study, for their own professional development (Heiney-Smith & Denton, 2015). The mentor and candidate may inhabit different contexts that shape their identities and influence their beliefs about students, yet during student teaching, the TC must assume the mentor’s. Habitual norms such as the way a mentor speaks and listens to students, the labels used both officially, such as for instructional blocking, and unofficially, such as during the post-instruction casual reflection, can be especially crucial when concerning the candidate’s ability to build a culturally responsive learning environment that is authentic to his or her own lived experience. Teacher candidates learn to privilege the progressive ideals of educators such as John Dewey (1859-1952) or Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934), and are even placed in contemporary classrooms that feature child-centered learning environments and democratically derived classroom norms. Their learning would be further emboldened by studying other famous European educators including Pestalozzi (1746-1827), Korczak (1878-1942) and Sukhomlinsky (1918-1970). However, these holistic educators’ deep commitments of student-directed inquiry, creativity, and combined psycho-social learning are curiously absent from mentoring programs in teacher education, which demand that students meet competency and outcomes-based standards devised by the states in which they seek certification. Requirements aside, mentor teachers are arguably the most critical factor in influencing the developing belief systems of the TC.

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