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Mentoring aspiring principals to improve principal preparation

Sherry Ann Medeiros, Johnson & Wales University


In an attempt to revitalize principal preparation programs, many states are experimenting with new field-based programs that situate the learning in schools under the direction of mentor principals. This research studied the use of experienced, exemplary principals as mentors in one such alternative principal preparation and certification program. The study examined the dynamics and impact of the mentoring relationship on both the mentor and protégé. A qualitative research design using multiple-case studies of existing mentor-protégé teams was employed. Interviews, observation, and document analysis were used to collect data. Three themes were identified in the mentoring relationship: dynamics, skills, and support. Each of these themes included three components. The most significant components of the relationship dynamics were: (a) open communication with reciprocal feedback, (b) articulating a clear vision and philosophy, and (c) identifying strengths and weaknesses of the mentors and protégés. Appropriately matching mentors and protégés was identified as a key contributor to the effectiveness of the mentoring relationship. Crucial mentor skills included: (a) modeling, (b) listening and reflecting, and (c) questioning and teaching. Important support components included: (a) the availability and constructive use of time, (b) the availability of a mentor network, and (c) a clearly defined program structure with well-articulated program requirements. The study also identified the education, training, resources, and support mentors need in order to become exemplary teachers, coaches, models, and facilitators for aspiring principals. Identifying the education, training, resources, and support necessary for developing quality mentors; and analyzing the dynamics and effect of the mentoring relationship may result in a new program design for principal preparation. The findings have implications for policies, programs, and practices relating to the use of mentors and field-based principal preparation and certification programs.

Subject Area

School administration|Adult education|Continuing education

Recommended Citation

Medeiros, Sherry Ann, "Mentoring aspiring principals to improve principal preparation" (2001). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3017531.