In this chapter I will address a central and critical issue for those concerned with the effectiveness and development of mentoring: the 'receptiveness' of new teachers to the role, conduct and substance of educational practices which come within that term. Drawing on casestudy material from 11 teachers in their first year of teaching, I will consider in particular the nature of contacts between new teachers and their tutors in schools. The teachers confirmed what has been reported elsewhere as a range of practical and professional problems, relating to the opportunities (or lack of them) for mutual discourse between mentor and mentored (Cole, 1991; Jacknicke and Samiroden, 1991; Little, 1990; Tickle, 1992d). However, the data which I will draw upon in this chapter take us much further than general considerations about roles and relationships in mentoring. They provide reports from the new teachers themselves of
The purpose of taking, in this instance, the teachers' own accounts of such exchanges is in order to address some issues about 'effectiveness' from their perspectives. One of the issues concerns the importance of the personal and individual ownership of knowledge, derived from sources of personal experience. Another is the power of privacy as a perceived necessary condition in both gaining and evaluating the quality of such experience. A third, which derives directly from the first two, is the nature and quality of a particular precondition for
'successful' interactions with tutors, where they do occur. I will use examples from data where 'exchanges' and 'instances of communication about teaching' were, for these particular teachers, paralleled by concern to ensure that experience was their own rather than that of others transferred to them. Other data illustrate the avoidance of, or at least lack of interest in or indifference to, exchanges with tutor-colleagues. Third, data will show that where exchanges were seen as potential sources of learning, the desire for particular, sophisticated kinds of communication about teaching placed tight specifications on what might be seen to be appropriate quality, successful, and hence effective.