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Mentoring Beginning Second Language Teachers: Perceptions of Challenges and Expectations of Support Open Access


Other title
beginning teachers
mentor teachers
second languages
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Kastelan-Sikora, Kristina
Supervisor and department
Bilash, Olenka (Secondary Education)
Examining committee member and department
Melnychuck, Nancy (Secondary Education)
Thomas, Gregory (Secondary Education)
Foster, Rosemary (Education Policy Studies)
Dust, Thomas (Secondary Education)
Morin, Francine (University of Manitoba, Faculty of Education)
Parsons, Jim (Secondary Education)
Department of Secondary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Today’s beginning teachers are confronted with a variety of challenges and issues as they develop their professional identities. Their needs and challenges in specific subject areas are further misunderstood or unrecognized. This qualitative research study focuses on the perceptions and expectations of mentoring as lived by three triads within an ATA local mentorship program. Beginning second language teachers, their Assistant Principals, and their off-site Mentor teachers were interviewed and offered responses to: challenges facing second language beginning teachers; how mentoring relationships contribute to a teacher’s subject-area identity in second languages; how the perceptions and expectations of mentoring compare and contrast for beginning teachers, mentor teachers and assistant principals; and how challenges faced by second language teachers compare to those of other subject-area specialists. Participants reflected on their philosophy of mentorship and their expectations of being mentored or mentoring. Key findings revealed that beginning second language teachers felt they got as much mentorship as they could from a series of people, and it was up to them individually to learn what they were missing or needed on their own. These beginning teachers also expressed a desire to belong in their school and feel a part of a community, as well as have their subject area fully recognized. In contrast, mentors frequently did not recognize beginning second language teacher needs and therefore could not provide appropriate support. Mentors and Assistant Principals could benefit from knowledge about research on mentorship, needs of XXI Century beginning teachers, and specific needs of subject specialist teachers. Mentors and Assistant Principals in new positions or schools themselves may be more helpful to beginning teachers after they have settled in to their new responsibilities. The second language beginning teachers in this study purported experiencing the same challenges as subject specialist teachers of music, art, drama and physical education, including; classroom management; experiencing isolation; administrative support; and specialized subject advocacy. Recommendations for multiple stakeholders are offered for improvements to the mentorship program. Future research should focus on strategies for how to advocate in specialized subjects and how beginning teachers cope on their own to come to better understand marginalized subject-areas.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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