Learning from one's own teaching : new teachers analyzing their practice through video recorded classroom observation cycles in an e-mentoring program
Ceven, Jennifer Ann
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Induction, or the first three years of a new teacher's career, is a particularly formative period yet there exists only a limited literature base to support teacher educators who work with this population. Induction phase teachers benefit from professional development experiences that support them to learn about teaching while they are teaching. This can occur when they receive feedback about their instructional practices and ideas on how to further improve their work. One means for providing this feedback is to engage new teachers with experienced mentors who observe a classroom episode and structure discussions before and after that observation. This classroom observation cycle can support new teachers to inquire into an aspect of their practice with the help of an experienced educator. This study examined the implementation of video-recorded classroom observation cycles in an established online mentoring program, e-Mentoring for Student Success (eMSS). New teachers and their mentors were observed as they conducted an initial observation cycle. Based on the observed behavior of the participants, the researcher designed a professional development session that framed observation cycles in the context of disciplined inquiry and encouraged mentors to focus on concrete evidence, discuss science content, explore the relationship between teacher actions and student learning, support the new teacher to critically evaluate the instructional episode, and induce the mentee to commit to alternative strategies. Following this session, participants conducted a second observation cycle. At the conclusion of the study, all participants were interviewed to capture the experience of video recorded classroom observation cycles from each individual's perspective. Qualitatively studying the interactions between mentors and new teachers helped to identify the conditions that supported disciplined inquiry and the impacts it had on new teachers' professional growth. New teachers expressed that they reflected on and implemented changes to their instructional practice following the observation cycles. In addition, they appreciated the opportunities to receive feedback in a low-risk environment and felt a stronger connection to their mentors. Classroom observation cycles have the potential to equip new teachers with the skills and dispositions to learn about teaching from the act of teaching each day of their careers.