Principals' perceptions of mentoring in Montana's AA, A and B high schools
Saunders, Godfrey Eugene
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Mentoring programs have become a popular source of training and professional development for high school principals over the past few years (Darish, 2001). However, there is little research which investigates the types of mentoring support these programs provide and the effectiveness of this support (SREB, 2007). This mixed methods study was undertaken to determine the frequency of mentoring support that high school and assistant principals in Montana's AA, A and B schools experienced during their beginning years as building administrations. In addition, this study also investigated principals' perceptions of the main sources of mentoring support and to describe the support strategies that principals used in the absence of mentoring. One hundred and twenty-two high school principals and assistant principals were sent the School Administration and Leaderships Skills Inventory (SALSS) (Stout, 2001) and asked to rate their perceptions of mentoring support during their novice years as building administrators. Results from this research found that when averaged across the ISLLC Leadership Skill domains, 95% of lead principals and assistant principals indicated that mentoring support would have been beneficial during their induction years as building administrators. Follow-up interviews were conducted with five principals were to more fully understand the sources of administrative support that were available to the support strategies that they used in the absence of mentoring. Results from semistructured interviews identified, "Supportive Peer Administrators", "Personality Traits", "Self-Development" and "Experience" as themes that described principals' sources of administrative support. "Creating Supportive Relationships", "Reflection", and "Supportive Peer Administrators" were the themes that principals collectively used to describe the support strategies they used in the absence of formal or informal mentoring. Results from this study suggest that there is a lack of mentoring support networks novice high school principals practicing in the state of Montana. Findings from this research suggest that Montana's school districts and the university principal preparation programs need to make a concerted effort to establish formal mentoring programs for new school administrators. It is recommended that these organizations work collaboratively to mentoring support networks for novice principals and to use the findings from this study to guide those efforts.