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Focusing New Teachers on Individual and Low Performing Students: The Centrality of Formative Assessment in the Mentor's Repertoire of Practice


by Steven Z. Athanases & Betty Achinstein — 2003

Mentoring novice teachers often features buddy support, technical advice, and classroom management tips to meet teacher-centered concerns of survival. Such mentoring aligns with conventional models of teacher development that describe the novice concerned with self-image, materials and procedures, and management, and only after the initial years, able to focus on individual student learning. Drawing on the wisdom of practice of 37 experienced teacher induction leaders and case studies of mentor/new teacher pairs, this study found that mentors can interrupt that tendency among new teachers, focusing them on the learning of individual students, especially those underperforming. For this work, mentors tap knowledge of student and teacher learners, pedagogy for classrooms and for tutoring teachers, and especially multi-layered knowledge and abilities in several domains of assessment. These include assessment of students, alignment of curriculum with standards, and formative assessment of the new teacher. Skillful use of this knowledge can bring individual student learning into focus and help new teachers generate methods for shaping instruction to meet students' varied learning needs. These results challenge developmental models of teaching and conservative mentoring practices, calling for articulation of a knowledge base and relevant mentor development to focus new teachers early on individual student learning.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 105 Number 8, 2003, p. 1486-1520
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11554, Date Accessed: 12/14/2017 10:18:33 AM

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About the Author
  • Steven Athanases
    University of California, Davis
    E-mail Author
    STEVEN ATHANASES, assistant professor of education at UC Davis, conducts research featuring issues of diversity and equity in the teaching of English and in teacher education. Recent publications include ‘‘Thematic Study of Literature: Middle School Teachers, Professional Development, and Educational Reform,’’ English Education (2003) and ‘‘Toward a Consistent Stance in Teaching for Equity: Learning to Advocate for Lesbian-and Gay-Identified Youth,’’ Teaching and Teacher Education (2003), with T. G. Larrabee.
  • Betty Achinstein

    E-mail Author

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