Term of Award

Summer 1997

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Administration

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

John S. Gooden

Committee Member 1

cordelia Douzenis

Committee Member 2

Garth Petrie

Committee Member 3

Fred M. Page, Jr.

Abstract

The results of this study provided insight into the priorities that Georgia principals and beginning teachers place on interpersonal and professional characteristics used to select experienced teachers to serve as mentors for beginning teachers. This study further identified the processes which principals use in the identification process for potential mentors and examined the priority Georgia principals and beginning teachers provide for concerns used in assigning mentors to beginning teachers.

All public schools in Georgia are eligible to participate in providing mentor support for beginning teachers through the Georgia Mentor Teacher Program. Monies made available annually from the Georgia Department of Education through the Leadership Academy provide stipends to mentor teachers who support beginning teachers. All principals and beginning teachers involved in the mentor support process during the 1995-96 school year were the populations for this study. Data were collected from an equal stratified random sample of 100 elementary school, 100 middle school, and 100 high school principals and from an equal stratified random sample of 150 elementary school, 150 middle school, and 150 high school beginning teachers. Responses were received from 217 of 300 possible principal respondents and from 248 of 450 possible beginning teacher respondents resulting in an overall study return ratio of 62%.

The data for the study were gathered through the use of two parallel questionnaires containing three sections. First, both principals and beginning teachers rank ordered ten interpersonal characteristics and ten professional characteristics for the selection of mentor teachers. In addition, principals checked items used in the identification process for mentor selection. Second, principals and beginning teachers rank ordered their perceived importance of mentor assignment concerns. Third, demographic information was elicited from all respondents.

The study results indicated that there is general agreement between principals and beginning teachers regarding the characteristics and concerns which should be given priority in the selection and assignment of mentors to support beginning teachers. The greatest differences were among the various school levels for both principals and beginning teachers. The only consistent element used in the identification process for mentors is the use of the principal's recommendation.

Results from this study provide guidelines for principals to select and assign mentors and for other educators to help with the decision-making process. Interpersonal characteristics which should be given greatest attention in mentor selection are: willingness to devote the time necessary to be an effective mentor; willingness to perform the roles expected of a mentor; effective communication skills; willingness to maintain the confidentiality of the beginner; and willingness to demonstrate professional and ethical behavior. Professional characteristics which should be given greatest attention in mentor selection are: demonstration of effective teaching strategies; ability to maintain effective classroom discipline and management; ability to plan effectively; and maintenance of high student expectations. High school mentors should demonstrate expertise in subject matter, and elementary mentors should understand and follow policies and procedures. In addition to the principal's recommendation, this study indicates that other mentor identification criteria might include classroom observation and recommendation by the assistant principal.

In making mentor assignments, this study indicates that principals should concern themselves with: providing a common planning time for the mentor and beginning teacher; consideration of the compatibility of the mentor/beginning teacher personalities; and providing mentors in the same content area for middle school and high school beginning teachers and in the same grade level for elementary beginning teachers. This study's results indicated that more emphasis should be placed on the issues of direct support than on the social issues when making mentor assignments. However, if equally qualified mentors are available, issues such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, and interests could be considered.

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