An exploration of the mentoring experiences of Business Studies teachers in the Umgungundlovu District of Pietermaritzburg.
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The aim of this study was to explore the mentoring experiences of Business Studies teachers in the Umgungundlovu district. The study sought to identify the types of knowledge Business Studies mentors draw from when mentoring pre-service teachers, where they acquire it, and the strategies they use when mentoring. The study employed a purposive sampling technique to select six mentor teachers from two public schools in the Umgungundlovu district in KwaZulu-Natal. A qualitative methodology was used in this study, within an interpretivist paradigm, which permitted me to acquire an in-depth perspective of the knowledge, strategies and the sources of mentoring knowledge that mentor teachers draw on to inform their mentoring practices. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with six mentors, and thematic analysis was used to identify themes that responded to the research questions. The study used Jones and Straker’s (2006) model of mentoring knowledge and Hudson’s (2004) model for developing teaching practices. The findings revealed that the mentors in each of the schools incorporated the discourses of collaboration, collegiality, and critical dialogue. Their mentoring relationship with their mentees formed an important part of the radical humanistic approach to mentoring. The findings of this study propose that the majority of the mentors draw on their professional practice and personal experiences as teachers when performing their mentoring roles. They believe that mentors must have a deep knowledge of subject matter, curriculum issues, and teaching strategies to mentor effectively. The findings indicated that mentors used mentoring strategies such as modelling teaching, giving feedback, and observation. The findings also showed that mentor teachers draw from their personal experiences and interpersonal skills to inform their practice, and that there are no structured mentoring programmes to prepare teachers for their mentoring roles. These findings show that it is important that mentor teachers be adequately prepared to discharge their duties. This would ensure that mentoring practices and techniques are appropriate, consistent, and supported by a knowledge base that can be used as a starting point for mentoring. The study recommends, therefore, that necessary access be provided to mentors to adequate formalized training programmes that will equip them with a sound knowledge base for mentoring. This should involve careful pairing of mentees and mentors, taking careful consideration of their personalities, their abilities, and the availability and willingness of the mentor.