|On-the-Job Training: Pre-Service Teacher Training in Trinidad & Tobago (CIE, 2000, 35 p.)|
|8. Stakeholders' perceptions of the organisation and functioning of the programme|
In the interviews with the various stakeholders, the importance of the mentor teacher emerged as the most significant theme. The mentor teacher is expected to be the exemplar who guides and evaluates the trainee in lesson planning, delivery of lessons, and both direct and indirect classroom management and control. The mentor teacher also allows the trainee access to a classroom. This would not be otherwise possible, given the laws for apprentices stipulated by the ILO.
It is striking that there are no official criteria for determining who should qualify as a mentor teacher. The assumption seems to be that the mentor teacher is a master teacher (also undefined officially) who would know precisely how to mentor. There is no formal training for mentor teachers. In the first three years of the primary programme, there were meetings at which mentor teachers, principals, and tutors were briefed on their roles. After the 1995 meeting, a publication entitled: Guidelines for Principals and Mentor Teachers was produced. This is now the only official communication on what is expected of mentors.
In some cases, DCs identify the mentor teachers and recommend that the trainees be sent to those schools. However, it is primarily the role of the principal to do so. Principals, it is believed, work closely with their teaching staff and would have a good idea of who was performing well and would meet the unofficial criteria to be mentor teachers. Principals seem to take into account the personality of the teachers and their experience in determining whether or not those teacher would make suitable mentor teachers.
Principals, and the teachers themselves, view mentor teachers as persons who have many years of teaching experience. Indeed, many of the primary school mentor teachers are teachers' college graduates of more than 17 years standing, but few have attended any professional courses in more than 10 years. Sometimes, compromises are made in the selection of mentor teachers, in that teachers who do not meet the unofficial criteria are chosen in an effort to deal with other constraints such as the trainee's religion and the distance of the cooperating school from the trainee's residence.