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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