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Mentor Teachers In Selected Districts In Northern California: Profile, Selection, And Responsibilities

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Purpose. The purpose of this study was to develop a profile of California SB 813 mentor teachers in selected districts in northern California, to investigate selection procedures and responsibilities, to assess perceptions of mentor teachers regarding their helpfulness in improving instructional quality, and their satisfaction with the role. An analysis of the helpfulness of the mentor teacher role in improving instructional quality as perceived by teachers assisted by the mentor teachers and their principals was included in this study. Procedures. Ninety-three mentor teachers from twelve school districts and county offices of education in northern California, one hundred fifty-three assisted teachers, and fifty-seven principals of assisted teachers were the research sample. Three questionnaires used in this study were developed by the researcher. Data were collected in the spring of 1985. Sixty-three percent of the mentor teachers, fifty-two percent of the assisted teachers, and seventy percent of the principals completed and returned the questionnaires. Findings. The profile developed from fifty-nine responding mentor teachers was that of a female elementary teacher in her 30's who has been teaching seventeen years, in her current district twelve years, in her current assignment seven years. She aspired to remain with classroom teaching. The selection process reported by the mentor teachers was within the parameters established in the legislation. The mentor teachers applied for the position to respond to a professional challenge. The mentor teachers determined their responsibilities which were primarily in staff development. Their preference for optimum utilization of the mentor teacher role was to increase the time spent in direct assistance to teachers. Released time from the classroom to fulfill mentor responsibilities was notably less than that allowed in the legislation. Mentor teachers expressed satisfaction with and a desire to continue in the role. Difficulties experienced by the mentor teacher in fulfilling their responsibilities related to peers, proteges, and time. In rating their perception of helpfulness in improving instructional quality, that of the principals had the highest mean rating, assisted teachers second, and mentor teachers third. Comparison of the results of this study with those of Far West Lab revealed similarities between expectations coordinators of mentor teachers reported to Far West Lab and experiences reported by respondents of this study. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)

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