British Journal of Education (BJE)

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This qualitative ethnographic case study, adopted a socio-cultural theoretical perspective and interpretive qualitative analysis techniques, to investigate five mentoring relationships from five mentors and mentees involved in the innovative Cooperative-Reflective mentoring model of teacher professional learning in mentoring relationships at the University of Education, Winneba, (UEW), Ghana. This model is underpinned by the concepts of collegiality, reciprocity of learning, collaborative activities and critical reflection by the mentoring dyad. The data were collected from interviews, observations and document analysis. Trustworthiness of the study was ensured through the multiple sources of data, peer review, member checks, as well as the description of themes in the participants’ own words. The study revealed that although the involvement of classroom teachers in the professional training of student teachers is a novelty in teacher education in Ghana, and a great departure from the old teaching practice, the programme has some conceptual and implementation challenges. First, the old conception of a hierarchical relationship between mentor and mentee persists contrary to the concepts of collegiality, collaboration, reciprocity and critical reflection. This is attributable, partly, to the inherent power of the mentor and, partly, to the professional culture of the teaching profession. Second, the collegial relationships which are to result in this mentoring relationship model are theoretically well intended but practically problematic because of the social structure of the Ghanaian society and the professional culture of the teaching profession in Ghana. Again, reciprocity of learning through critical reflection by both mentor and mentee in this model of teacher professional learning concept also appears to have been theoretically well intended but practically problematic because of the same reasons for forging collegial relationships. This seemingly lack of sensitivity to the socio-cultural and professional contexts in which the model is being implemented is a major setback to the arguably innovative move towards school-based teacher training and the greater involvement of practising teachers in the professional training and development of student teachers as well as in the life-long learning of practising teachers. We, therefore, propose a re-conceptualisation of the mentoring model to take into account the socio-cultural and professional contexts within the context of implementation since theoretical positions alone cannot provide sufficient basis or framework for the development of a mentoring programme. It is the interaction between particular mentors and particular mentees in their particular contexts that determines the type of relationship to be established and the type of professional learning that will result.

Keywords: Collaboration, Mentoring relationships, collegiality, critical reflection and professional learning, reciprocity

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