Functional feedback : a cognitive approach to mentoring
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine feedback from multiple sources received by beginning alternative certification teachers, enrolled in an alternative educator certification program at Education Service Center, Region XIII, during their initial year in the classroom. This study examined the feedback provided to the novice teacher by the mentor, this researcher (in the role of supervisor) and two clusters of the Teacher Activity Profile (TAP) instrument. The comments provided to the beginning teacher were examined to determine if there was consistency between the feedback from the various sources, to classify the feedback into categories, and to analyze the written feedback for elaboration and precision. Data were collected from 20 beginning teachers, their respective mentors, and the supervisor. Data included mentor consultation and observation reports, supervisor consultation reports, and two performance clusters of the TAP assessment tool. Qualitative methods were utilized to chunk, sort, manage, xi categorize, and classify emerging themes and patterns into five major categories. Five major categories emerged: (a) classroom climate; (b) positive reinforcement; (c) rules, procedures, and routines; (d) classroom management; and (e) instructional strategies I and II. The five categories also included critical attributes that described teacher behaviors in each respective category. In addition, the critical attributes were then identified as general or precise to determine what type of feedback appeared to be more specific to the beginning teacher. There was more corroboration between the feedback provided by mentors and the supervisor. The feedback afforded to the beginning teacher from multiple sources revealed a major emphasis on classroom management and instructional strategies, with instructional strategies containing the most critical attributes. The findings also identified those critical attributes that seemed more likely to contribute to the growth and professional development of novice teachers. These findings may assist instructional leaders, administrators, supervisors of student teachers, supervisors of alternative certification teachers, field observers, mentors and institutions that prepare teachers, in recognizing the potential precise and accurate feedback has in influencing the instructional performance of beginning classroom teachers.