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Promoting Mentors' Work in Education

Kaye College team: Dr. Haya Kaplan (head of the project), Vardit Israel, Huwaida Alhuashla,  Dr. Shulamit Fischer, Anat Kessler, Bosmat Bar-Nadav, Dr. Khaled Al-Sayed, Maskit Holdsman

Since the beginning of the 2019-2020 academic year, Kaye Academic College of Education has been collaborating in an international project called PROMENTORS, which is a part of the European Union’s Erasmus+ Program. PROMENTORS is the product of a collaborative effort by Growth Resources: Kaye Induction Unit at Kaye College and the following partners: Ministry of Education Southern District, Division of Internship and Induction at the Ministry of Education, and MOFET Institute; nine colleges of education in Israel: Talpiot (the leading college), Kibbutzim, Beit Berl, Gordon, Sakhnin, Al-Qasemi, Hemdat Hadarom, and Levisnky; and four European universities: University of Bucharest, Romania; University of Exeter, UK; John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland; and the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

The project is operating in the Bedouin town of Kuseife, in a locality-based incubator/MIT (Multiple Players Induction Teams), and in Al-Farouk School, in a school-based MIT.

MIT is a product of the PROTEACH program, which lasted three years and focused on the establishment of learning communities of interns and beginning teachers, who were subsequently joined by mentors, school officials, and policymakers.

Kaye College has established MIT communities all over the Negev region, and there are currently incubators in all the Bedouin localities (Kuseife, Hura, Lakiya, Rahat, Tel Sheva, Segev Shalom, Ar’ara), and two regional councils (Al-Kasom and Neve Midbar), in the cities of Beer Sheva, Dimona, and Mitzpe Ramon, and in many schools.

The PROMENTORS project is continuing the process of promoting education across the Negev region, and focuses on mentors.

The PROMENTORS MITs focus on the mentoring processes of beginning teachers in school-based and locality-based settings. It is based on partnerships between the school and the locality, as well as Ministry of Education policymakers, the local authority, and the wider community (including inspectors, heads of education departments, officials in the school and the community, and others).

In 2020-2021 The Promentors project is built around two circles: the first includes AlFarouk School, which is leading the school model of Promentors, and the second is Kseife town MIT, which encompasses all the other schools and the local community.

The foundations of the PROMENTORS approach

During the induction stage, which includes the internship year and the two following years, teachers face multiple challenges – from pedagogical, emotional, and social aspects – in addition to having to adjust to the school environment and its organizational culture. This may result in teachers experiencing doubts, difficulties, and emotions such as loneliness, but it can also provide opportunities for professional growth.

To face these challenges, PROMENTORS places the role played by mentor-teachers at the center. The literature on mentoring processes of interns and beginning teachers indicates that the support provided by an experienced mentor is vital for their success. Appropriate mentoring processes reduce the dropout rates of beginning teachers, and improve their sense of achievement and wellbeing. However, it appears that the mentoring processes in Israel’s education system need to be reexamined. Many mentors are not qualified for the role, and schools need to construct a culture of absorbing beginning teachers. Improving mentoring processes can lead to improved induction processes of beginning teachers, and their optimal integration into the education system. The PROMENTORS project is an important milestone in this regard.

What is PROMENTORS, and what is Kaye College’s role in the project?

PROMENTORS engages with improving mentoring processes by exploring and studying different mentoring processes practiced in Israel and around the world in order to develop and assimilate a mentoring model that is adapted to culture and society in Israel.

Kaye College is leading (together with the University of Bucharest) the project’s Work Package one: Preparatory activities for delivering an MIT-inspired mentoring system in Israel.

Five mentoring models have been developed in collaboration with colleagues from Europe: (1) Peer-Group Mentoring (PGM), which was developed in Finland, and engages with collegial support from peer group members during the induction period; (2) Reverse Mentoring (originating in the high-tech world), where beginning teachers assume the role of mentor, and enrich mentor-teachers with the personal resources they bring to teaching; (3) Community-Based Mentoring, which was developed in Poland, and is based on partnership with the community; (4) Lesson Study, a British model that focuses on partnership between mentors and beginning teachers who together investigate learning-teaching processes with the aim of improving teaching.

The fifth model was developed at Kaye College, and is based on Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Ryan & Deci, 2017). According to SDT, an optimal mentoring process supports satisfaction of three basic psychological needs: the need for competence, relatedness, and autonomy – of mentors and mentees alike. Various practices have been developed at Kaye College to identify these needs by means of a need-supportive dialogue, as well as ways to support them. The model focuses on promoting an inner compass of values as a basis for professional identity, and on fostering proactiveness and agency among mentor-teachers and beginning teachers.

When psychological needs are supported, the resulting experience may promote autonomous motivation (for teaching and mentoring), wellbeing, curiosity, motivation to face challenges, and willingness to contribute to the school and the community (Vansteenkiste, Ryan, & Soenens, 2020).

The MIT model developed at Kaye College within the framework of the PROMENTORS project aims to promote structuring of an optimal induction environment for interns and beginning teachers, with emphasis on the mentor-teacher’s role. We believe that optimal induction requires an environment and a mentoring relationship that promote a sense of relatedness to the school and the community, a sense of teaching competence, and a sense of autonomy, i.e., an experience of choice and self-determination.

Based on these models, the project’s approach to optimal and meaningful mentoring was formulated, and is currently being implemented by the partner colleges as part of the project’s pilot year.

Thus, training mentor-teachers in the PROMENTORS MIT is based on an autonomous, relational, and humanistic mentoring paradigm that differs from traditional mentoring approaches. The PROMENTORS approach addresses cognitive aspects of learning, and is based on a constructivist-social approach and social aspects of mutual support. It also highlights the role of the community, the local culture, and the in group. Additionally, it emphasizes motivational and psychological aspects associated with experiences of need-satisfaction, for mentor and mentee alike, as well as internalization and autonomous mentoring motivation (parallel to teaching) that might stem from these experiences. Mentoring is directed towards supporting the mentee’s autonomy so that they may act independently and pursue their own needs.

The PROMENTORS mentoring approach centers on the relationship between mentor and mentee, or between peers in the PGM model. According to this approach, the mentoring relationship allows partnership, mutual support, and an experiences of psychological needs satisfaction for all partners. The relationship is based on trust, and creates a safe dialogical space where personal content can be shared. It is also based on flexibility and relevance, so the content of the mentoring sessions is determined by both mentor and mentee. Their relationship resembles that of equal partners, and encourages the structuring of both partners’ role identity and professional identity.

PROMENTORS seeks to promote a new academic model for training mentor-teachers, and to establish it as a nationwide model. Additionally, we are striving to anchor the model in the continuity approach to training educators. According to this approach, mentoring begins at the training stage, and is performed by cooperating teachers and pedagogical instructors, and then, at the induction stage, by mentor-teachers. The model is expected to constitute a basis for training mentors in Israel by means of which we are striving to improve the induction of beginning teachers in the schools, and to advance the quality of teacher training in Israel.

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