Coaching and mentoring
THE CHALLENGE FOR the new teacher is to overcome the understandable urge to reinvent everything about teaching – to avoid being seduced by a powerful rhetoric of change. The rhetoric of change can present ‘streaming’1 as if it were a new and fresh approach, it can use the language of ‘appropriate pathways’ to conceal mechanisms for selection and the labelling of a generation of children and young people as educational failures – it is only by drawing on the experiences of a past generation of teachers that these ideas can be fully exposed to critical review. It is essential that new teachers become engaged in an on-going professional conversation with experienced teaching colleagues about the nature of teaching and learning. It is only by engaging in such a professional conversation that the new teacher can give the lie to Hegel’s often paraphrased sentiment that ‘we never learn the lessons of history’, this is not to say that talented young teachers will not innovate and change (see Chapter 8). Indeed, the nature of all professional life is to see a new generation take up the
challenges presented by their time and to seek fresh solutions to those challenges – the problem lies in the adoption of strategies that are marketed as new but are in reality the failed attempts of previous generations repackaged for a new generation of teachers often kept ignorant of their own professional culture. A successful mentoring relationship will do much to ‘bridge the cultural gap’ between generations of teachers and should help to build a more secure sense of professional identity firmly founded on the somewhat unfashionable notion of vocation.