Culminating Project Title
Date of Award
Culminating Project Type
Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.
Educational Administration and Higher Education
School of Education
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Keywords and Subject Headings
Special Education, teacher, retention, mentorship, effectiveness
Beginning special education teachers each year enter their classrooms with high expectations and best-practice strategies they are eager to employ. Related literature affirmed, however, that they are quickly faced with what Charlotte Danielson (1999) described as a “sink or swim in the deep end of the pool” culture (p. 251-7) as they grapple with the needed sudden transition from theory to practice. Done well, effective mentoring can become the bridge between preservice learning and classroom experience and guide beginning special education teachers toward a deeper and more impactful teaching practice.
This study’s purpose was to explore facets of new special education teacher mentorship supports in Minnesota to better understand what constituted effective mentoring program supports for new special education teachers in the profession. The study also endeavored to explore the influence of these supports on beginning special education teachers’ plans to remain in the field. The results of this study are intended to supplement the gap in the literature related to the influence of effective mentorship on special education teacher retention rates in Minnesota and to provide greater insight into how mentorship was provided, what that mentorship consisted of, and who provided it to beginning special education teachers in our state.
The significance of this study was supported by four primary factors: 1) the growth of induction/mentoring programs across the United States, 2) the continued high attrition rate of special education teachers and the need to retain them in the field, 3) the limited research on the issues to be investigated, and 4) the recommendations from previous research. Therefore, this study researched specific themes of mentorship to better understand what constituted effective mentoring program supports for beginning special education teachers in Minnesota and to explore the influence on beginning special education teachers’ plans to remain in the profession. Mandlawitz, (2003) reported that the first three years of teaching represent a critical time-period for understanding and affecting the attrition rate of special education teachers. As such, this study focused solely on beginning special education teachers in their first three years of teaching.
The findings of the study indicated that there was an apparent disconnect between what beginning special education teachers found helpful and what they were actually being provided in terms of mentorship support delivery. Further, there appeared to be a disconnect between what content beginning teachers found helpful and what they were actually being provided. There also appeared to be a shift from year one to year two in terms of the reported supports that were most beneficial. Ultimately, findings of the study indicated that provision of positive and meaningful mentorship experience in year one, year two, and year three of teaching special education had a positive impact on beginning teacher retention rates on the short- and long-term.
Barron-Albers, Michele, "Mentorship and Teacher Retention: Analysis of Beginning Special Education Teachers’ Experiences in Minnesota" (2022). Culminating Projects in Education Administration and Leadership. 93.