A self-study project by Dr Khulekani Luthuli to explore his mentoring as a deputy principal and improve his mentoring practice to guide novice teachers regarding learner behaviour support, earned him a doctorate in Education.
‘I observed the many challenges that novice teachers encounter with compassion and I understood their anguish when battling to manage learner behaviour in their classrooms,’ said Luthuli. ‘I often wondered whether their plight was related to a lack of mentorship in the school so through this study I aimed to improve my mentoring practice to guide novice teachers appropriately.’
During his research, Luthuli engaged novice teachers in his school in creative and participative discussions. By sharing knowledge and ideas and giving feedback on the challenges and joys novice teachers experienced in their classrooms, he was able to put himself in their shoes. ‘I developed into a better manager and mentor as I understood the plight of novice teachers. Involving myself in self-study as a mentor and deputy principal enabled me to share my successes and frustrations regarding the induction of novice teachers into a school.’
The verbal and visual data Luthuli garnered provide rich insights into the experiences of novice teachers and educational leaders.
Supervised by Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, his work offers a unique and motivational example of a school leader’s endeavours in self-study research.
Significant findings of his research were that schools should develop a mentoring policy to guide novices and newly-appointed teachers to make a smooth transition to a school and its community.
Said Luthuli: ‘I think my research could help facilitate more interactive discussions within school communities on mentoring novice teachers in learner behaviour support. I feel that there are many seasoned teachers who would like to undertake mentoring novice teachers in their school communities. I also think that the Department of Basic Education could draw from the study in formulating a learner behaviour support policy guideline that would assist teachers in schools, novices in particular, to deal with classroom management.’
He thanked his wife, Nozipho, and son, Owethu for their support; and his friends Mduduzi Sibisi and Thamsanqa Dladla for listening to his PhD woes.
Luthuli advises students to believe in their abilities. ‘There should be no day that goes by without doing something towards their studies. Seeking assistance from fellow students and people who have walked the walk could also be crucial in them achieving goals. It is also necessary for researchers to have good working relationship with their supervisors.’
He plans to get involved in research collaborations and publish his research in journals.