Across the Domains: Examining Best Practices in Mentoring Public School Educators Throughout the Professional Journey
reviewed by Sheri Williams & Joseph H. DeBonis - September 06, 2018
Title: Across the Domains: Examining Best Practices in Mentoring Public School Educators Throughout the Professional Journey
Author(s): Andrea M. Kent & André M. Green (Eds.)
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1641131047, Pages: 268, Year: 2017
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Across the Domains deserves to be brought to the attention of scholars and practitioners interested in maximizing the impact of traditional and non-traditional approaches to mentoring, networking, and professional development. The volume presents the experiences and evidence-based insights of a range of researchers and field-based professionals who are working to establish high-quality mentoring in their diverse settings. The authors of the twelve chapters introduce readers to multi-level mentoring practices that can help accelerate the development of pre-service teachers, early career teachers, and teacher leaders. The studies featured in the volume offer a catalog of approaches that promise to strengthen networking and mentoring practices. Readers will find the book helpful in refining ideas about how to launch and support educators throughout the career cycle.
ELEMENTS OF THE VOLUME
The chapters provide a nuanced examination of the impacts of formal and informal instructional support networks. A critical reading of the chapters reveals the contributors expertise and methodological rigor in examining traditional and non-traditional approaches to mentoring at transitional points in the professional journey. Although most of the chapters are authored by scholars in the American Southeast and Southwest, the chapters offer rich resources that will be of value to university faculty and practitioners regardless of region or context.
The volume is forward-thinking in its approach. It includes chapters on cross-institutional mentoring programs that involve higher education and the public schools, effective utilization of technology in mentoring, and the challenges of cross-cultural mentoring. Models for mentoring are described throughout the volume. As an example, Chapter Nine describes a mentoring pyramid that involves senior and junior mentors. A standout section in the volume describes the work of educators in Brazil who are creating a collaborative, respectful, and instructionally focused model which takes into account multiple viewpoints as well as the importance of collaboration between and among researchers, mentors, and mentees.
The diverse voices in the chapters address important questions about how to build mentoring capacity and meet the differentiated needs of mentors and mentees. As an example, Chapter Three provides a compelling argument for establishing growth goals to address the needs of millennial teachers as they begin their careers. The studies featured include intensive mentoring during summer as well as year-round mentoring programs that have the potential to improve educator competence for early career teachers as well as teachers transitioning to positions as teacher leaders, instructional coaches, or school administrators.
In Chapters Two and Ten, the authors address the need not only for more STEM teachers in the current education system, but also for ways to ensure that novice and veteran teachers are getting the support they need to continue striving for growth in their field. The authors call for more collaboration across schools for teacher coaches working in STEM as well as for partnership programs that enable STEM teachers to gain a Masters degree while teaching. This provides the double benefit of improving teacher capacity while building a culture of mentorship.
Across the Domains also explores new ways of mentoring. With the advancement of new technologies, e-mentoring is becoming more commonplace, and the ways in which teachers use technology to communicate and mentor are expanding. This volume also dives into the concept of informal mentoring and how simple conversations in an informal setting can be powerful for both novice and experienced teachers; for instance, it can allow teachers to brainstorm solutions to problems that do not require a formal meeting.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE FIELD
The contributing authors provide evidence of various indicators of mentoring success at their study sites, including improving teacher retention, building teacher leadership, increasing teacher and student learning, and supporting equitable outcomes. The methods employed in the volume include mixed methods studies utilizing descriptive statistics, qualitative studies using interviews and open-ended survey data, and the analysis of written communications such as narratives, blog posts, reflective journal exchanges, and transcriptions of artifacts.
The editors conclude with discussion questions that challenge the reader to examine the soundness of the methodologies used by the contributors and the interpretations being offered. As an example, the editors point out that it could be said that descriptive studies, like those examining dialogue in reflective journal exchanges, tend to limit the objectivity of the researcher. However, when such designs are implemented, evaluated, and applied to local conditions, they may well yield promising results.
Finally, the research presented in the volume, however plentiful, points to issues that require further study. The contributing authors present findings leading to disparate hypotheses about best practices in mentoring. The collection of research-based studies leaves the reader wanting more information about best practices in supporting educators who hold differing values, beliefs, and attitudes. Future scholars may wish to add another volume in the series that synthesizes the various hypotheses advanced in the book and puts forward a conceptual framework for mentoring professionals through the complexity of career change.