Preservice Teacher Mentoring in an Authentic Context: The Western University Young Winds Program


Kevin Watson, Western University, London, Canada

Colleen Richardson, Western University, London, Canada

Betty Anne Younker, Western University, London, Canada

Rosemary Bannerman, Thames Valley District School Board, London, Canada

Marisa VanRuitenburg, QueenÕs University, Kingston, Canada


Authentic-context learning activities are those in which learning initiatives are presented within an environment that resembles actual professional practice (Paul et al., 2001). Educational initiatives that incorporate such activities may help to foster teacher identity and teaching skill development (Austin & Miksza, 2012; LÕRoy, 1983). For example, Austin & Miksza (2012) found that participants who taught music to middle school band students as part of a mentoring program showed significant increases in social motivation for teaching, teacher identity, and classroom management efficacy. Legette (2013) has argued that there should be a greater effort to contextualize educational theory so that there is a clearer link between knowledge and skills gained in preservice courses and the context in which they will be used on a daily basis. Given this background, the Western University Young Winds program was created to provide undergraduate students pursuing a music teacher education degree greater opportunities for authentic- context learning, and to further the UniversityÕs mission to engage with the local community to develop mutually beneficial initiatives. The ten-week program involves volunteer preservice teachers providing weekly instrumental music instruction to students in grades six through nine, supplementary to that provided by community middle school band programs and in some cases filling a void where no school band programs currently exist. The preservice teachers are responsible for recruiting students, preparing and executing lesson plans for full band rehearsals, teaching instrument-specific sectionals, and coaching chamber groups. The teachers are mentored throughout the process by two music education faculty members.


This panel discussion will outline the origination and development of the Western Young Winds program, discuss the programÕs relationship to other coursework in the music education degree, and examine the value of this curricular innovation to the professional development of participant preservice teachers. The panel discussion will include the perspectives of various stakeholders: (a) University music education faculty members will address the rationale for creating the program and the potential benefits for music teacher education; (b) A public school music educator from the local community with over twenty years of experience teaching elementary and middle school music will provide her perspective on the programÕs influences on her students; (c) A recent graduate in music education who served as a teacher in Western Young Winds will provide her perspective regarding the effects of the program on the development of teaching identity and expertise; (d) The Dean of the Faculty of Music will address the wider implications for curriculum policy, and how strategic alliances may be formed among music educators, music teacher educators, and related stakeholders.




Austin, J. R., & Miksza, P. J. (2012). Trying on teaching: Effects of a precollegiate music teacher recruitment program. Journal of Music Teacher Education, 21(2), 14–27.

L'Roy, D. (1983). The development of occupational identity in undergraduate music education majors. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, North Texas State University, Denton, Texas.

Legette, R. M. (2013). Perceptions of early-career school music teachers regarding their preservice preparation. Update: Applications of Research in Music Education, 32(1), 12–17.

Paul, S. J., Teachout, D. J., Sullivan, J. M., Kelly, S. N., Bauer, W. I., & Raiber, M. A. (2001). Authentic-context learning activities in instrumental music teacher education. Journal of Research in Music Education, 49(2), 136–145.