Date of Award

8-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Mary Jane Moran

Committee Members

Priscilla Blanton, Sherry M. Bell, Rena A. Hallam

Abstract

Early childhood classroom mentor teachers are often left with little support and guidance as they assume the role of teacher educators. The purpose of this collective case study was to explore how a community of practice comprised of pre-K mentors and a university program coordinator supported the development of shared and individual understandings about how to effectively supervise preservice teachers. Utilizing key tenets of sociocultural theory, four pre-K mentor teachers from two public schools in the Southeast participated in an online and face-to-face community of practice facilitated by a university program coordinator. The pre-K preservice teachers (n=6) were secondary participants in this study. Across twelve weeks, the evolution of collective and individual knowledge was chronicled through interviews, online discussions, face-to-face exchanges, and classroom observations. Audio-tapes from meetings and interviews were transcribed verbatim. Data analyses involved iterative cycles of coding, moving from open coding to process and pattern coding. Through this process, data displays and conceptual memos were created and informed the analyses. Findings from this qualitative study illustrate how the mentors’ processes of coming to know were developed within a complex web of relationships from which they re-envisioned their roles as pre-K teachers. As the mentors negotiated the meaning of mentoring, they engaged in recursive cycles of reshaping their identities through questioning, hypothesizing, and sharing lived experiences. New identities as educators of both children and adults emerged as they considered the role of mentoring as a tangible object to be closely studied, negotiated, and operationalized. The mentors left this study acknowledging that while mentoring was difficult, complex work, it was worthy work.

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