Jones, C. K., Kelsey, K. D., & Brown, N. R. (2014). Climbing the Steps Toward a Successful Cooperating Teacher/Student Teacher Mentoring Relationship. Journal of Agricultural Education, 55(2), 33-47. doi: 10.5032/jae.2014.02033


Agricultural education cooperating teachers (mentors) are idealized as seasoned professionals, proficient in their craft, and able to transmit tacit knowledge to pre-service teachers (mentees) through demonstration, conversation, and coaching. When the relationship is successful both parties experience positive outcomes that may last a lifetime. Agricultural educators report that cooperating teachers are one of the most important influences on the development of new teachers. The research reported here used instrumental case study design to identify three steps that underpin successful mentoring relationships between cooperating teachers and student teachers in school-based agricultural education. The steps are personality, community and access, and trust and communication. Subthemes of personality included compatibility, similar values, mutual interest in growth, successful conflict resolution, and appreciation of differences. Subthemes of community and access included feelings of belonging and having access to cooperating teachers. Subthemes of trust and communication were based on delegating responsibility, providing accurate feedback, and supporting student teachers to assume the role of teacher. Based on the findings, it is recommended that university-based teacher educators increase opportunities for informal mentoring pairs to emerge. Future research could explore the impact of informal pairing on the development of new teachers compared to formal pairings.

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