Insights into a researcher's attempt to study the mentoring needs of first-year, white, female teachers in diverse schools
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While schools in America are becoming more culturally diverse, the majority of first-year teachers continue to be white females. Although mentoring has proven to be an effective means of supporting first-year teachers, little research has been done that specifically addresses the first-year, white, female teacher’s perceptions of her mentoring needs in teaching students of color. This qualitative research study examined the experiences of eight, first-year, white, female teachers teaching students of color in a large culturally diverse school district in Texas. Data were gathered over a period of 12 weeks. The participants’ responses were collected through individual interviews, focused group interviews, and journal responses to five open-ended sentence stems. This research is an “attempt” to examine these participants’ experiences because although multiple attempts were made to engage the participants in substantial discussion about their mentoring needs specifically related to being white teachers working with students of color, the participants would not participate at depth in conversations about race or culture. They did, though, discuss some of their mentoring needs, which were consistent with the already existing literature on first-year teachers and their mentoring needs. Three themes however, emerged. They were the context of mentoring, evident mentoring needs, and critical unrecognized mentoring needs. In the context of mentoring, the participants’ mentoring experiences were examined. In the second theme, the participants’ recognized mentoring needs were discussed. These included the participants’ need for support in basic teaching skills and in managing their many emotions during this time. The third theme highlighted the critical and unrecognized needs of these first-year teachers to have an understanding of their own racial identity and how this affects their responsiveness to the cultures of their students. Recommendations were made for policy and practice so that pre-service teachers are fully prepared to think and behave in ways that will meet the needs of a diverse population of learners. These recommendations should be considered by all teachers. Here, I specifically made recommendations that would benefit the population that was the focus of this study, that of white first-year teachers who teach in culturally diverse classrooms.
Attaway, Kathy Ann (2007). Insights into a researcher's attempt to study the mentoring needs of first-year, white, female teachers in diverse schools. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from