Diverse mentoring models have been implemented by educational organizations to address teacher retention, but debate continues over which mentoring model is most beneficial. Two school districts in Utah, USA, hereafter referred to as the Asher and Dane (pseudonyms) School Districts, provide distinct approaches to mentoring. Both the Asher and Dane School District have used veteran teachers with full-time teaching loads to mentor beginning teachers. The Dane School District, however, has recently implemented a unique and distinct mentoring model in addition to in-school mentors. In this model, full-time released teacher "coaches" with specialized mentoring responsibilities are assigned by the district to mentor several beginning elementary teachers in one grade band (K-3 or 4-6) throughout the district. This longitudinal research studied the Asher and Dane School Districts' mentoring models to develop a grounded theory to explain how these two distinct mentoring models were related to beginning teacher retention rates. A stratified, random sample was utilized, resulting in 23 participants selected for this study. Interview data were gathered from each participant during their first year of teaching, as well as follow-up survey and interview data in their third year. Beginning teacher attrition data were gathered from both the Asher and Dane School Districts. A constant comparative qualitative analysis method, using NVivo software, facilitated the development of the grounded theory. Findings describe and explain the sources and types of support that beginning teachers in these two distinct mentoring models found most beneficial in their induction, development and retention during their first three years. Beginning teachers reported that key mentoring characteristics included a mentor that had experience and knowledge, particularly in their same grade level, as well as a personal relationship with someone who was open to listening to them and who empowered others. Overall, collaborative teams and in-school mentors were a great source of support for beginning teachers, and teacher retention occurred most often when beginning teachers felt supported by their principals. Beginning teachers also experienced a decrease in stress and increase in both autonomy and confidence with time or years of teaching, experience, and support. Findings suggested that district coaches in the Dane School District lacked proximity, personal relationship, and knowledge of the grade being taught by those they mentored. As a result, they lacked the ability to help induct beginning teachers into their school culture and develop informal networks in the school and ensure retention.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Educational Leadership and Foundations



Date Submitted


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mentoring, mentoring relationship, mentoring model, mentor, teacher retention, teacher attrition, new teacher, beginning teacher