DETERMINATION OF TEACHER CANDIDATES’ VIEWS ON MENTOR TEACHERS

In order to train qualified and adequate number of teachers, great and major duties fall to all the shareholders who take place in the period of education. Instructors, lecturers and the mentor teachers at schools where teaching practices are conducted are the ones whose roles are quite crucial in this period. While mentor is described as a person who supports his/her colleague whose experience is less than himself/herself in terms of personal and vocational cases and who guides him/her and a person whose knowledge, skills and experiences are taken advantage, mente is expressed as a less experienced person who is expected to gain skills and experiences in the period (Yirci, 2009). At the same time, a mentor is the person  who has specialisation and is dedicated to better teaching and personal development, without thinking himself/herself superior than the mente. (Heung-Ling, 2003).

While the teacher trainers have the only say in the particular stage of the development process of the pre-service of the teacher candidates, their teachers, namely, their mentors have also say in their teaching experiences which the teacher candidates realize before being graduated and also in practise classes. Mentor teachers adopt great duties with regard to training the teacher candidates who attend to the specially adjusted schools in different branches during fourteen weeks in the scope of teaching training in one term. Whereas it is important to take action with the knowledge of the sanctity of preparing the teacher candidates yet to be graduated, the mentor whose features and qualities are emphasised is needed to be well identified. Today, when identifying a mentor, it is taken into consideration that mentors have professional experiences and level of knowledge to train the teacher candidate. However, it is also a fact that mentors are responsible for their service and training the teacher candidates to the extent of gaining experiences before they start their professions. For this reason, it is not possible for every teacher to mentor and to be responsible for one teacher candidate. The mentor teachers who are required to be quite equipped with qualification and have self-competence have great effect on preparing the teacher candidates to the profession of being a teacher. Therefore, according to the final year teacher candidates’ opinions, the evaluation of the mentor teachers’ proficiency to get the teacher candidates ready for their profession has been aimed in this research.

Purpose of the Study

In this research, it has been aimed to uncover the thoughts and opinions related to the mentor teachers of the final year students who have attended to different departments and branches at Kilis 7 Aralık University Muallim Rıfat Faculty of Education In this sense, the following questions have been target to find answers to:

  1. How long has your mentor been teaching?
  2. Do you know whether your mentor has practised being a mentor before?
  3. What are your thoughts on whether your mentor teacher has adequate subject matter knowledge so as to train a teacher candidate?
  4. What kind of effects do you think your mentor has on you in terms of personal and professional development?
  5. What do you think about both your mentor teacher’s conducting a class discipline and his/her role on training a teacher candidate? Can your mentor take time for you and for his/her own students?
  6. In this process, do you think that your mentor teacher has provided you a good feedback after each class?
  7. Did your mentor teacher ask you to prepare daily lesson plan? If so, was any regular check provided? Were you able to have feedbacks in relation to your lesson plans?
  8. What kind of interaction was set between your mentor and your instructor mentor at university in terms of your professional development?
  9. What are your thoughts about your mentor’s capability in taking care of ever each teacher candidate?
  10. Did your mentor teacher have a general meeting at the end of the term? If so, what were the main interests?
  11. Do you think that your mentor teacher might be a role model for you when you start your teaching career?
  12. Do you think that you can still consult your mentor teacher about any proper problems, upon starting your teaching career?
  13. How many points would you give to your mentor teacher, if you were asked to evaluate from 1 to 5 (1 the least, 5 the most)?

Method

In this research it has been aimed to uncover the thoughts and opinions related to the mentor teachers of the final year students at Kilis 7 Aralık University, Muallim Rıfat Faculty of Education. Hence, in this research, phenomenology, which is one of the qualitative designs, has been preferred. The data resources of the phenomenology designs that try to uncover the perceptions which the individuals are aware of and the senses and experiences related to the perceptions in which they have no profound understanding are the groups and individuals who can experience and express or reflect this perception. The basic data acquisition technique is the interviews (Yıldırım ve Şimşek, 2016). The phenomenology design is a kind of research design which focuses on the phenomenon which we are aware of but have no detailed comprehension. It is a negotiation strategy which the researcher tries to identify the human experiences about a phenomenon that the participants have explained (Creswell, 2003). The special phenomenon or cases in this research is what the teacher candidates think about the mentor teachers.

Results

In this research in which the teacher candidates’ opinions are identified, 5 different mentor teachers whose length of service is between 4 and 26 have taken place. It has been determined that the (26) of this group, the pre-school teacher has been four times, the 12-year classroom teacher has been once, the 10-year social science teacher has been twice, the 8-year Turkish teacher for the first time and the 4-year science teacher has practiced mentoring twice in their lives. It does not seem that much possible to make an inference that there is a relation between the designation of the teachers as mentors and their length of service. The fact that the teacher who has been a mentor twice is in his/her fourth year of profession and is also mentor this year indicates this aforementioned case. It is hard to state that a teacher who is in early professional stages is as qualified as to train a teacher candidate. In order to mentor, it is expected from a mentor to have experiences and improved himself/herself. It is, then, possible to observe teachers who are in the bottom rung of the ladder have incompetency and inabilities.

It has been identified that mentor teachers have, generally, partially sufficient or sufficient influence on the teacher candidates with regard to having enough subject matter knowledge as to train a teacher candidate and as for the candidates’ personal and professional development, they have, generally, huge effect on the teacher candidates. The teacher candidates have stated that mentor teachers have enough subject matter knowledge, but they do not apply adequately and they are not able to create equipped impression on the teacher candidates and in fact the mentor teachers also need training requirement. The mentors who are responsible for a candidate’s development process are also subject to having proper trainings. The fact that the mentors who have duties in both conducting the class and training the teacher candidates cannot have that much influence on the teacher candidate is related to that they teach lessons and do classroom activities especially in crowded classes. Therefore, it can be said that they happen to fail in their roles to train the teacher candidates when they try to establish the classroom authority at the same time. It is obvious that they are not able to take their time for the teacher candidates due to the hardships from which the mentors suffer when they try to establish the authority especially in crowded classrooms. Due to the fact that there are a lot of both Syrians and Turkish students in the classrooms in the city of Kilis, teachers need to show more effort and also endeavour more. For that matter, most of the time, they ask for teacher candidates to help them. This can lead to unwanted circumstances in terms of the development of the teacher candidates. For this reason, designating the mentors who teach in crowded classes may leave negative marks.

It has been determined that mentor teachers have given partially adequate feedback to the teacher candidates. It is notable for the teacher candidates who stay in the course to get feedback in terms of their development process. It can be commented that because the mentor teachers generally have crowded classes, works to finish on time and they will have a general assessment meeting at the end of the term, they might neglect the teacher candidates. Moreover, it has been identified that the mentor teachers have not prepared daily lesson plans due to the annual plans well-adjusted in units, and have not asked the teacher candidates to prepare their own plans, either. It can be commented that a teacher candidate is unfortunately not sufficient on preparing a lesson plan which is required to be prepared in order to teach a better course. It can also be said that cooperation has been set between the mentor teachers responsible for the professional development of the teacher candidates and the instructors at the faculty, however it is has not been sufficient at all. It should be underlined that according to teacher candidates’ opinions, the communication between both sides is generally about if regular attendance to the classrooms is provided or not, but not all the mentor teachers are included in this generalisation. Also the teaching practise management instructors who follow closely the development process of the teacher candidates are present in this case. It is also obvious that this causes mentors at the faculty not to check and observe the teacher candidates regularly because they have also post-graduate degree duties, classes to conduct and students and administrative functions.

It has been stated that in spite of the fact that majority of the people affirm that the mentor teachers take care of the candidates adequately with regard to mentor teachers’ capability of taking care of the teacher candidates, the great majority of people claim the vice versa. As stated before, on one hand the fact that the mentors have both crowded classes and need to take care of the teacher candidates’ development process shows mentors’ responsibilities are harsh, on the other hand the teacher candidates reckon this as the mentors do not pay enough attention to themselves. Nevertheless, it can be stated through teacher candidates’ opinions that most of the mentor teachers have assessment meeting with the teacher candidates at the end of the term and especially they get suggestions on classroom management, time management and on what they should be careful about when they start their professions. It is also clear that mentor teachers have sprung up different influences on teacher candidates with the light of their business, the number of students in their classes and their experiences. Even though there are teacher candidates who have stated negative opinions on their mentors, it has showed that the teacher candidates carry different opinions showing they consider their mentors as their role models when they begin their profession, and they state that they can still consult their mentors even right after they start their teaching professions. That the teacher candidates evaluate their mentors with 3 out of 5 seems to claim that they have generally average opinion about their mentor teachers. Through the outcomes, it is considered the following suggestions can be identified in future researches and designation of the mentor teachers. Mentor teachers are also required to be evaluated so that the teacher candidates can be more successful and beneficial. At the end of one practice period, an evaluation system might be created to evaluate the mentor teachers. With this system, required level of point can be adjusted in order to be a mentor. Thus, we can identify the number of mentors under this designated scale and determine the qualified ones. The teacher candidates might be asked to fill this assessment through MEBBİS (Ministry of National Education Data Processing Systems) and to be fair, this can be applied weekly. Besides, apart from marking the teachers, another system can be adjusted where the candidates can express and write their own opinions about their mentors. Mentor teachers might also be asked to evaluate themselves and make self-evaluation about their actions during the process. Thus, both their thoughts and the candidates’ thoughts can be compared. The teaching assistants and the members might also be asked to evaluate the mentors via MEBBIS. With more than one evaluation report, it may be possible that more qualified mentors can be identified.

Keywords: Mentor teacher, teacher candidate, teaching practice.