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Embracing Contraries: Combining Assistance and Assessment in New Teacher Induction

by Brian Yusko & Sharon Feiman-Nemser - 2008

Background/Context: Although the induction literature has traditionally recommended separating assistance and assessment, there has been growing recognition that assessment is integral to promoting and gauging teacher quality. This has led to increased interest in approaches to new teacher induction that meld support, development, assessment and accountability.

Focus of Study: This article provides images of mentoring from two well-regarded induction programs that integrate assistance and assessment to promote quality teaching. The programs are the Peer Assistance and Evaluation Program (PAEP) in Cincinnati, and the Santa Cruz New Teacher Project (SCNTP). The article highlights the possibilities and pitfalls of each approach.

Research Design: The research uses a qualitative case study design involving multiple layers of data collection. Program level data included interviews with program leaders, analysis of program documentation, and observations of staff meetings and mentor training. We observed program implementation by shadowing experienced mentors as they worked with new teachers and asked each mentors in our sample to submit documentation of one year's work with one successful and one struggling new teacher.

Conclusions: A comparative analysis reveals that assistance and assessment can coexist. Participating in assessment and evaluation did not prevent mentors from forming trustworthy relationships, although it sometimes made that more challenging. In both programs mentors were highly regarded teachers, carefully chosen, with extensive professional expertise. They earned respect by establishing credibility as useful support providers. Mentors addressed novices� concerns, but they also assessed how new teachers were meeting students� learning needs. In both programs, new teachers set professional goals and were expected to demonstrate progress towards those goals. Mentoring conversations structured around �records of practice� provided opportunities to move beyond self-report and personal opinion. Mentoring can be most educative when mentors engage in assistance and assessment structured by appropriate frameworks and processes, get support from a professional community that upholds professional teaching standards, and receive training and ongoing professional development to carry out their important responsibility.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 110 Number 5, 2008, p. 923-953
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12789, Date Accessed: 3/5/2021 11:37:39 PM

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About the Author
  • Brian Yusko
    Cleveland State University
    E-mail Author
    BRIAN YUSKO is an associate professor of curriculum and foundations at Cleveland State University. His research focuses on teacher learning across the career span, particularly collaborative professional development opportunities that help teachers learn to design and deliver student-centered instruction. He is currently designing and researching the Video Technology Mentoring Program, a professional development program where teachers edit and discuss videotapes of their own teaching. His recent publications include Promoting reflective teaching conversations: Framing and reframing the problem in Teaching Education and Caring communities as tools for learner-centered supervision in Teacher Education Quarterly.
  • Sharon Feiman-Nemser
    Brandeis University
    E-mail Author
    SHARON FEIMAN-NEMSER, Mandel Professor of Jewish Education at Brandeis University, is the Director of the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education. At Michigan State University, where she served on the faculty for twenty years, Sharon co-directed a field-based teacher education program and conducted research on teacher education, new teacher induction, and mentoring in the U.S., England and China. The author of many articles and books, she is currently working on a book about progressive teacher education and co-editing the 3rd Handbook of Research on Teacher Education. Selected publications include From preparation to practice: Designing a continuum to strengthen and sustain teaching in Teachers College Record and Helping novices learn to teach: Lessons from an exemplary support teacher in Journal of Teacher Education.
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