Background

UNLV pre-service Special Education teachers (PSETs), when in their field experience, are under the guidance of a mentor teacher (MT), the primary teacher in the student teacher’s classroom. The PSET and MT work alongside each other in the classroom, with the MT providing coaching, mentorship, and encouraging the PSET’s critical reflection.

Study Purpose

M2: Mentoring the Mentors studies the effects that differing levels of trainings to MTs have on the mentorship experience for PSETs. M2 is researching the most effective way to provide MTs with the fundamental skills to provide PSETs with a successful practicum experience to prepare them for their career in the education system.

Research Questions

How do MTs understand their role as coaches to PSETs? How does this understanding change during participation in a professional development and coaching sequence? How do PSETs view the coaching they receive from their MTs and its relationship to preparing them to be a special education professional?

Methodology

Quasi-Experimental

Qualitative and quantitative data collection

Quantitative Qualtrics Surveys

Rating scale on their experiences thus far

PSET/MT Lesson Debriefs
  • Viewed synchronous debrief over Zoom
  • Read MT/PSET CALs (collaborative assessment logs) for MT feedback on PSETlesson


MT Post-Training (Synchronous) Reflections

Live, recorded discussion with facilitators and MTs

Participants

  • 10 MTs working in CCSD as a teacher
  • 8 PSETs enrolled at UNLV
  • Recruitment occurred via email to all MTs assigned to a PSET candidates enrolled in an accelerated pathway to licensure program in special education

Qualtrics Data Themes

pSETs’ self Reported challenges
  • Lack of self-reflection encouraged by MT
  • Creating specific and attainable learning objectives
  • Absence of discussion of PSET personality traits (perfectionist behavior; dominant behavior)
pSETs’ self Reported challenges
  • PSET does not provide feedback on meetings
  • Time management in PSETs
  • PSETs viewing lesson debrief as assessment of skills rather than support
PSET/MT Lesson Debrief themes

Three main themes identified in initial CALs; concerned what MTs wanted to see from PSETs in lessons more often:

  • Clarity of Expectations: Clarify expectations from students prior to delivering lesson/activity
  • Lesson Relevance/Purpose: Clearly state purpose/relevance of lesson to students
  • Student Discussion (“Stretch It”): Have students explain answers to discussion questions more thoroughly – “stretch” their answer (seen primarily in more advanced groups)

Preliminary Discussion

Mentor Teacher Perspectives

Prior to receiving any PD, MTs reported that there was a dissonance between their PSETs on the purpose of their debriefs. MTs reported that PSETs were unable to balance their work and life in a manageable way resulting in feelings of stress from PSETs. With MT concerns of PSETs current capabilities, PDs aim to provide MTs with the tools to shape PSETs’ experiences for a successful transition into education licensure.

Pre-Service Special Education Teacher Perspectives

While critical reflection is a major component of a PSET experience, PSETs felt that, despite the frequent CALs/debriefs, that the reflections did not provide actionable next steps; for example, PSETs that did not make their expectations clear to students were unsure of how to proceed to address it. Additionally a lack of self-reflection beyond CALs was also reported by PSETs.

Research Team

Safiyya Bintali

NIEPRR Research Fellow

Jabari Taylor, Psy.D.

Principal Investigator

Joseph Morgan, Ph.D.

Co-Investigator

Sydney Moony

Co-Investigator

This research was made possible thanks to generous funding from the Nevada Department of Education to support the Nevada Institute on Educator Preparation (NITEP), the Nevada Institute on Educator Preparation, Retention, & Research (NIEPRR), and the Nevada Educator Preparation Institute & Collective (NV-EPIC).