“Taking the most delicate care”: Beginnings of a mentoring relationship between teachers and coaches in an Australian school

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We explore the beginnings of professional coaching/mentoring relationships between teachers and university mentors in an Australian school. Often overlooked, initial steps are crucial, holding the seeds of eventual success or failure. Our mentoring program was undertaken in a large, independent, coeducational school in suburban Melbourne, Victoria. In our constructivist study, underpinned by our desire to explore on the lived experiences of others, we report on the understandings of three of the mentors/ researchers and the teachers that they worked with. We gathered data from teacher-written statements and mentor journals. Using thematic analysis, we developed our findings, performing epoché as we hold both insider and outsider mentor/researcher perspectives. We present our findings under two broad headings: The prior understandings held by all and addresses positions, assertions and anticipations; and First meetings, finding accords, noticing resistances, and recognizing difficulties. We found that the apparent simplicity of first steps masked great complexity. No one entered the first meeting as an “empty vessel.” Some relationships were more problematic than others. Our goals as transformational educator/ mentors were to foster deep collaborative, professional relationships with our mentees but were hampered by inherent differences of understanding with the school who sought transactional coaches. Clarity in intent from the outset is crucial to program success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1905-1918
Number of pages14
JournalThe Qualitative Report
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Mentoring Teachers
  • Coaching Teachers
  • Collaborative Professional Relationships
  • Beginning Mentoring
  • Accords and Resistances
  • Thematic Analysis

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