Mentors and the practicum experience: opportunities for professional learning

2017-02-27T23:40:35Z (GMT) by Lloyd, Christine Wendy
The purpose of this research is to better understand the professional learning opportunities available to mentors through their work with preservice teachers (PSTs) and to explore how such opportunities might be enhanced through the collegial sharing of experiences and through critical reflection. The project investigates the key question: In what ways can practicum mentoring be a vehicle for the mentor’s own professional learning? The project took the form of a small scale case study at a P-12 school in Melbourne exploring the experiences of four mentors of PSTs who formed a professional learning community (PLC) during the second semester block practicum in 2012. The study aimed to explore participants’ perceptions of their mentoring role, how their professional learning occurred and the types of professional learning they experienced. The findings of the study suggest that the practicum can indeed be an important vehicle for the mentor’s own professional learning. For the participants in the study, professional learning took place not only through observation of, and discussions with, their PST; but more crucially, as a result of their reflections when actively engaged in a PLC. Professional learning through critical reflection requires an explicit focus of attention on the part of the mentor to ensure that there is time and energy devoted to reflection and the building of professional knowledge. Participation in a PLC provided that opportunity. It enabled the exchange of information and experiences in a supportive, focused environment of like-minded colleagues.