Critical Concepts of Mentoring in an Urban Context

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Given the increasing challenges faced by high-poverty urban schools, mentoring has become the panacea for policy makers interested in a quick-fix solution to the teacher quality dilemma. As a result, mentoring programs have experienced exponential growth with little empirical attention during the last decade. This 16-month qualitative investigation within a large city in the northeastern United States, sought to better understand the work of mentors in high-poverty urban schools. Analysis of the data collected led to the identification of three assertions that highlight the interplay that occurs in the urban teacher mentoring context between four critical concepts: novice teacher survival, novice teacher success, onus of responsibility, and a social justice stance. Implications are discussed related to the need for adequate resources, placement, and preparation of mentors in high-poverty schools. Additionally, the study also asserts the role that a passion for or a disposition toward social justice plays in the success and survival of both mentors and novice teachers in urban contexts.

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The New Educator, v. 5, issue 1, p. 25-44