The Use of Mentoring in Developing Teachers
The system of mentorship has become burning issues in ELT, especially in teacher development programs. Mentoring plays viable role to transform novice teachers into experienced ones with skills, knowledge, confidence, and competence. Straus, Chatur & Taylor (2009) claim that “mentorship has been recognized as a catalyst for career, success and mentoring relationship have been cited as important in career selection, advancement and productivity” (p.135). It is true that novice teachers get lots of opportunity to learn from a mentor who helps enormously in their career development. Although it is not formally practiced in every schools of Nepal, I have experienced such support in the beginning of my teaching career which transformed my perception.
Practice of Mentoring in Nepal
In recent, years, mentoring has gained attention and popularity as a powerful tool to enhance the profession and careers in every organization. Mentoring helps to empower the lifelong and continuous development of teachers to develop their teaching profession. It is true that practicing mentoring helps to transform teachers; it is a key to transform educational institutions as well. It is perceived as an effective staff development approach for novice teachers. Thus, most of the schools in the country have been strongly adopting this approach in order to improve teaching/ learning activities. Kafle (2008) mentions, “these days mentor is applicable in schools to teacher and students and it has been applying in different countries as an approach of teaching”.
Although, the term mentoring has been popular over the last decades but in the context of Nepal, we have not been able to apply this approach in effective way. It means that we still have not realized the importance of mentoring system which is one of the weakest parts of our education system. Kafle (2008) also states, “Over the last two decades, mentoring has been popular especially in teacher development in America, Europe, and Australia”. It helps teachers to transform themselves if they get facility of having mentor in their teaching career but unfortunately it has been ignored in our education system. As a result, we can see unhealthy competition, jealousy, incompetence, frustration, less professional growth among the teachers which directly harms the students and education system. On the contrary, Kafle (ibid) mentions that even in Asia, Japan, South Korea, Bhutan, and Pakistan are introducing mentoring technique in the school. As a result, new teachers are given opportunity to have a strong starting which gives a kind of hope to give continuity in their job and can develop their profession with positive attitude.
According to Pandey (2009), the English teachers of Nepal are familiar with the concept of mentoring which helps them to adjust in the new situation and cope with the problems, get new ideas of solving the problems. But just knowing the concept of mentoring is not going to improve our education system. Thus, it is necessary to apply it in our education system which helps to create healthier and harmonious practice. It is sad to say that we know the positive aspects but are not practicing it. It is not formally practiced in most of the schools in Nepal which is really upsetting to know. Because of not having this system in educational field, teachers are being rigid to share their knowledge and skills which is one of the causes of not being able to spread the knowledge, skills to other teachers. In this situation mentoring helps to become more cooperative and also develop sharing skills which every teacher should have. Such unhealthy environment creates lots of negative vibration inside the school which can be reduced by applying mentoring system.
Neither we need to invest huge amount of money to apply this system nor is it impossible to establish it. Still it is not given importance in our education system. It is necessary to apply this approach in our country in order to transform teachers but “there is no any formal mentoring educational institution in Nepal which has separate course or program and mentoring to the new language teachers” (Pandey, 2009, p. 88). I wonder why they are being so rigid to introduce this viable system in our education system which is extremely beneficial for educational institution as well.
It is fair to say that mentoring can be one of the best tools to increase personal and professional growth of Nepalese teachers which has become an urgent need. It will help a lot to the newcomers to create hope and enthusiasm if they are given chance to have a mentor in their teaching profession but it has still been ignored. Mentoring system will definitely provide positive results and effective outcomes in every educational institution.
Most of the teachers in Nepal enter this profession as soon as they complete their School Leaving Certificate (SLC) or intermediate level without any experience and preparation. At that time, they are very young and lack experience, and ideas to teach. There will be hodge-podge in teaching and learning process, and learning will not take place effectively. As a result, learners will be misguided. It is true that such novice teachers don’t have any enthusiasm and competency to teach and slowly they are frustrated to teach for not having good guidance and support from the seniors. Their profession growth becomes miserable and can rarely furnish satisfactorily outcomes. They engage themselves in teaching only for the sake of earning money, and to pass their time. If we let them teach without any guidance they do not know how to teach properly and the condition of learners in the future is affected. What kind of exposure are we expecting from such novice teachers who are immature, inexperienced and lack confidence. In this situation, when they are ready to teach, it is important we provide them mentor to boost up their knowledge and skills which help to enhance teaching learning process.
Several challenges may occur to establish and maintain professional relationship in academic field. It is necessary to practice mentoring system in Nepal in order to bring positive change in novice teachers. If this strategy is applied in our education system, novice teachers will get opportunity to overcome problems such as anxiety, fear, frustration, confusion, and loss of hope which generally appear during the beginning of teaching career. Once mentoring is introduced in teaching, it will definitely help to generate much strength to develop our profession. In addition, teachers will be motivated to give continuity in their field with innovation and change leading to effectiveness in teaching learning process. As a result, there will be positive, effective, and fruitful transformation in the mentee which will directly benefit our education system.
Kafle, A. P. (2008). Mentoring: An approach to teacher development [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://apkafle.blogspot.com/2008/08/mentoring-approach-to-teacher_10.html
Pandey, S.B. (2009). Mentoring for teachers’ professional development in Nepal: A status study of Kathmandu district. Unpublished M.Ed. dissertation, Kathmandu University, Dhulikhel, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Straus, S. E., Chatur, F., & Taylor, M. (2009). Issues in the mentor – mentee relationship in academic medicine: a qualitative study, Academic Medicine, 84, 135 – 139
(Priyanka Pandey is a graduate student at Kathmanud University)