Mentoring – Let’s Begin!

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Last three months, i was busy with “living rush” and finally it feels good to have time to write here again. At the beginning of the mentoring session but this time in a role as a mentor, seems a bit confusing. To enlight this confusion, it was ideal to have sources to read about mentoring so as a main article, i began with “Mentor modeling: the internationalization of modeled professional thinking in an epistemic game” and as an optional reading as i am interested in self-efficacy, i chose the article “Coaching and mentoring for self-efficacious leadership in schools. International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education”.

Wax on, Wax off!
Wax on, Wax off!

Do you remember the movie The Karate Kid? Mr. Miyagi and his student Daniel’s story reminded me a good example of being mentor and mentee… He was more than a teacher, he tought him with real life examples, the student gained new abilities by practising. So basically “mentor” is Mr.Miyagi and “mentee” is Daniel in this situation. Mr. Miyagi built a relationship based on trust, he was a good model for Daniel for his targets. He was reliable and patient, authentic, engaged, and tuned into the needs of the mentee.  As a mentee, Daniel was an ideal one; patient, involved, respectful and hardworking.

The first reading is about epistemic games, the example game is Urban Science. Epistemic games are computer-based role-playing games that simulate proffesional training.

For the practicum, urban planning students are hired by organizations. With the help of a mentor, they visit the web site in questions, meet with steakholders, use geographic information system, create surveys, final plans and presenting findings (Shaffer 2006b). Planning consultants, in the game, help novices, give feedback and give inspiration when the novices are stuck. To link the elements of the epistemic frame during gameplay the research used an analysis is called Epistemic Network Analysis (ENA).

The researches showed to promote positive behaviours and habits in youth is possible by mentors (DuBois et al. 2002; DuBois & Silverthorn 2005). According to Vygotsky (1978, p. 88) by the guidance of adults children can imitate problem-solving techniques. In the context of actual work, to direct their skills and knowledge, professionals rely on professional values.

There are three questions in this study:

-Did the players of Urban Science develop planning epistemic frames?
-During the game, did the players imitate the epistemic frame that the in-game mentors modeled?
-Did the epistemic frames that players demonstrated during the game with the mentors persist when the mentors were not present after the game?

The study looked at if mentors’ modeling of professional thinking in the game participated to players’ development of the epistemic frame of urban planning through gameplay. These epistemic frames were not just associated with the mentors’ guidance in that moment: they were absorbed by the players.

ENA was showed to be a useful way to measure the complexity of relationship between the mentors’ and the players’ frames, the improvement of epistemic frames and the interrelated dimensions of expertise.

This study showed that the mentees can develop the ability to think as an urban planning not only imitating the mentors.

The second reading is aims to propose a three-stage framework for on-going professional development of aspirant and incumbent heads that is designed to increase their own self-efficacy. According to research related the development of self-efficacy with three concepts: acculturation, assimilation and actualisation. The research emphasizes the terms: coaching, mentoring, talent management, leadership development and self-efficacy.

Another term in the article underlined is self-efficacy enquiry (SEE), is an approach by Rhodes (2012) which is an adaptation of Cooperrider et al.’s (2008) “appreciative inquiry” action research coupled with self-study for professional self-improvement.

In this approach, basically the leader chooses three areas for possible further development and consults with colleagues to establish which one is to be the primary focus. As a next step, to increase self-efficacy, the team will design series of strategies.

The definition is self-efficacy relates to “beliefs in one’s capabilities to organise and execute the courses
of action required to produce given attainments” (Bandura, 2003, p. 3) Someone can evaluate one’s own self-efficacy through practice. Those who observe similar peers perform a task are appropriate to believe that they, too, are capable of completing it. Leaders need self-efficacy to implement action. In similar way the heads in schools can benefit mentee-mentor and coaching  programmes by providing observations. To increase teachers’ leadership potential Veenman et al. (2001) suggest that coaching and feedback can help stimulate self-reflection, self-analysis and aid self-direction.

In the UK, to hire new headteachers instead of fired ones is a common practise. It is waste of time and appears high levels of staff attrition. “Hire and fire” market in education showed the importance of how to manage talent, how to bring new talent forward, how to retain and revitalise a staff team and how to avoid headteacher burnout. To raise awareness of self-efficacy regards high-quality mentoring and coaching; coaches and mentors need to know the importance of self-efficacy as well.

Learning to teach is a life long process and  headship in schools also regards leadership abilities. Headship is a complex undertaking and mentors and coaches will benefit from being stretched (intellectually and emotionally) as they engage.

When we focus on self-efficacy of headteachers, it can be seen as arrogance but the main aim should be understanding of the experience of their leadership journey that effected the pupils who are well educated.

The research argued the potentialities for coaching and mentoring than can effect acculturation; assimilation and actualisation. Enhancing self-efficacy can strengthen coping and also promote the transition to senior leadership.

Meanwhile coaching and mentoring have become a “must” of the professional development and leadership learning in some schools and putting forward big expectations, they do not offer a certain solution to all problems of career transition and leadership success.

In schools, coaching for professional development is a popular phenomenon in UK; the focus of the professional development of novice teachers and leaders is “getting job done” more than “building on self-efficacy”.

As a result the research says that, SEE does not promise to raise competence in every leadership location. But it points to the importance of coaching and mentoring as potential scaffolds to create an appreciation of self-efficacy at all stages of the headship journey.

DuBois D.L. & Silverthorn N. (2005) Natural mentoring relationships and adolescent health: evidence from a national study. American Journal of Public Health 95, 518–524.
DuBois D.L., Holloway B.E., Valentine J.C. & Cooper H. (2002) Effectiveness of mentoring programs for youth: a

meta-analytic review. American Journal of Community Psychology 30, 157–197.
Nash, P. & Shaffer Williamson, D. (2011): Mentor modeling: the internationalization of modeled professional thinking in an epistemic game. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.
Rhodes, C., & Fletcher, S. (2013). Coaching and mentoring for self-efficacious leadership in schools. International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, 2(1), 47-63.
Rhodes, C.P. (2012), “Mentoring and coaching for leadership development in schools”, in Fletcher, S.J. and Mullen, C.A. (Eds), The Sage Handbook of Mentoring and Coaching in Education, Sage Press, London, pp. 243-256.
Shaffer D.W. (2006b) How Computer Games Help Children Learn. Palgrave Macmillan, NewYork.
Veenman, S., Denessen, E., Gerrits, J. and Kenter, J. (2001), “Evaluation of a coaching programme for cooperating teachers”, Educational Studies, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 317-340.
Vygotsky L.S. (1978) Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Mental Processes. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

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