• Exploring Learning Conversations between Mentors and Associate Teachers in Initial Teacher Education

      Jones, Luke; Tones, Steven; Foulkes, Gethin; University of Chester (Emerald, 2019-06-03)
      Purpose - The aim of this paper is to analyse the learning conversations that take place in the context of secondary initial teacher education (ITE) in England. More specifically, it aims to examine the learning conversations that occurred between physical education (PE) subject mentors and their associate teachers (ATs) during a one-year postgraduate programme. Design/methodology/approach – Self-completion questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, with eleven ATs within a university ITE partnership, were used to explore ATs’ perceptions of the learning conversations that occurred between them and their mentors. A process of content analysis was used to identify and analyse themes in the data. Findings – Meaningful learning conversations are not exclusively based on mentors’ feedback on ATs’ teaching. The ongoing everyday dialogue that occurs between mentors and ATs has a direct impact on the ATs’ teaching and a more indirect effect of nurturing collaborative relationships and providing access to a learning community. Successful mentoring is not realised through an isolated weekly lesson observation of the ATs’ teaching. It is an immersive process where the AT and the mentor face the ongoing challenge of exploring aspects of pedagogy and developing a relationship that is conducive to shared learning. Practical implications - These findings have implications for providers of ITE and more specifically how they approach mentor training. Examining learning conversations, and in particular the more informal everyday dialogue that occurs between the mentor and the AT, may have significant impact on the learning of those who are training to teach. Originality/value - Informal learning conversations are central to the mentoring process. These findings highlight the value of learning conversations and in particular the impact of informal everyday dialogue that may otherwise be overlooked.