Mentoring as part of a trellis of practices that support learning

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Exploring Education and Professional Practice Through the Lens of Practice Architectures, 2017, pp. 101 - 119
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In a number of countries, including Australia, vocational education and training (VET) teachers often begin teaching without teaching qualifications or prior experience related to teaching. In such circumstances, mentoring is commonly identified as an appropriate strategy to support teacher learning. However, access to mentoring for new teachers can be complex. Further, even when mentoring is available, it does not always provide strong support for teacher learning. Drawing on evidence from a 2-year longitudinal study of the learning of novice VET teachers, and using the theory of practice architectures, this chapter addresses two key areas related to teacher learning through mentoring: access to mentoring; and mentoring as it inter-relates with other ‘practices that support learning’ (PSLs). The chapter explores the practice architectures that enabled and constrained teacher access to both formal and informal mentoring. Additionally, the chapter uses the theory of ecologies of practices in a modified way to explore the practices that support learning in four of the case studies from the broader study. It does this by looking at the inter-relationships between mentoring and other PSLs. In two of these cases, inter-related PSLs that worked together to strongly support teacher learning are identified, and the concept of a trellis of PSLs is outlined.
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