Listening to Mentor Teachers’ Voices in Uncertain Times

  • Ruth Radford
  • Kerry Howells
  • John Williamson


One characteristic of the uncertain times in teacher education is the complexity involved in operationalising the various standards and policy documents when little attention is given to how best to use the time in school-based practicum so that it is both educative and purposeful. This is a “wicked problem” to which various theories and literature miss the mark if not informed by those at the coalface. We argue that to navigate this complex terrain we need to include the voice of the mentor teacher. Up to this point, there has been a global silence on the crucial importance of this voice. Yet, in many instances, the mentor teachers develop considerable expertise and professional judgements about how to produce confident, capable, resilient and reflective novice teachers. This voice needs to be recognised and listened to in, not only informing policy and articulating standards but in bridging the gap between policy and practice. Our research investigated how mentor teachers, working within a program where pre-service teachers had significant amounts of practicum time, and in a context of high Education Needs Index schools, understood teaching pre-service teachers to teach. Through qualitative inquiry using the method of a case study, this chapter investigates the views of 30 mentor teachers across 12 schools (both primary and secondary). The broad themes from our data analysis are relationships, reciprocity, responsibility and reflection. We argue that these aspects add a rich and crucial dimension to standard statements and pedagogy around school-based mentoring.


Relationships Mentoring Intentionality Teachers’ voice Pre-service teacher education 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

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