Rereading the Dominant Narrative of Mentoring



Mentoring is currently being promoted as an effective means of easing new teachers' transition from preservice programs to the profession.. At the same time it is seen as a way of providing teacher development for those teachers with more experience. Furthermore researchers promote mentoring as a force for change to diminish isolation and promote teacher collaboration. In this article I present an overview—the dominant narrative—of some recent research on formalized mentoring programs in education. Bringing this material together reveals that researchers are virtually unanimous in their enthusiasm for these initiatives. A dialogue which took place between me and a colleague/friend about what we construed as our mentoring relationshippotentially serves as a counternarrative to this prevalent story. Through an analysis of the educational research and the personal narrative, I suggest that the widely accepted view of mentoring may need to be reread, particularly in relation to language: mentoring's meaning is now imprecise because it is used as an umbrella term for many kinds of affiliations in teaching. Inrereading our narrative I argue that my colleague/friend and I did not act as each other's mentor. Rather, our professional association became entwined with the friendship we developed over time. I maintain that by doing a similar rereading of the research on mentoring in education we might find richer and more precise language to describe how we as teachers can assist one another in becoming sophisticated professionals.