Rural school teaching in Zimbabwe: Mentoring experiences of 'beginning' primary school teachers.
The first year of teaching is the most formative period in a teacher’s career. Support is therefore crucial if they are to develop the competencies, confidence and attitudes that will help keep them contented and effective in the classroom. One way of enhancing these aspects is through induction and mentoring. This will help ensure a firm foundation for professional growth and career development. This qualitative inquiry sought to establish the mentoring experiences of ‘beginning’ teachers in rural primary schools in Masvingo District of Zimbabwe. Data were generated through in-depth interviews and open-ended questionnaires from thirty purposively selected novice teachers. Findings indicate that most beginning teachers in this study did not experience mentoring and consequently smooth transitions from student-hood to teacher-hood, but were left to navigate their new environment alone. Their experiences seemingly impacted negatively on their career prospects as some indicated interest in careers outside the teaching profession. The education system needs to offer on-going, in-service mentor training courses to practicing teachers to expose them to mentoring, thereby preparing them for professional guidance of beginning teachers. This will promote professional learning and development, adding qualitative commitment and competence to the growth trajectory of both novice and practicing teachers, which in turn may motivate new teachers to stay in the profession.
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