UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Towards a genealogy of the mentor in early career teacher mentorship programs Hales, Anne Catherine


This dissertation is an exploration of the aims and effects of early career teacher mentorship and the role of teacher mentors in public education policy and program contexts. This project was provoked by an ethic of discomfort (Foucault, 1994) with how teacher mentorship is commonly framed as a strategy for addressing a variety of new teacher ‘problems’ including career attrition, isolation, ineffective practice and lack of collegial support. In particular, the study aimed to problematize the invocation of teacher mentorship as a site for cultivating professional growth and lifelong learning. The purpose of this study was to construct a conceptual lineage of ECT mentorship in British Columbia, Canada in order to denaturalize normalized understandings of mentorship and mentor figures at work in one school district mentorship program. Through genealogical and discourse analysis of policy and programs documents and policy actor interviews generated between 1960-2019, the two research questions addressed were: 1) how a Foucauldian-inspired analysis of discourse-practices might illuminate dominant truths in circulation about the aims of ECT mentorship, and 2) how the teacher mentor is discursively constituted as a subject within mentoring programs and relationships. This study’s genealogical policy analysis showed how mentorship became thinkable as a professional undertaking and was assigned various purposes across shifting historical and political circumstances in British Columbia’s public education system. Meanwhile, discourse analysis of policy actors’ and mentors’ speech and written statements illustrated how commonly circulated imperatives of early career teacher mentorship and the mentor role remained open to critical contestation and reformation. Analysis indicated how teacher mentors working with a formal program structure became subject to particular discourses of ‘growth’ as good and desirable, as the improvement of instructional competency, and as a regulatory strategy committing both mentors and mentees to a trajectory of lifelong learning. The study points to how those engaged in ECT mentorship research, policymaking and practice might submit normalized imperatives of ECT mentorship to regular critical interrogation and to reimagine mentors’ potential roles as creative, critical and reflective educators.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International