Date of Conferral







Stephanie Gaddy


Abstract Beginning special education teachers often leave the field within the first 3–5 years of employment. There is ample research available on mentoring programs for beginning teachers. However, limited research exists on mentoring programs for beginning special education teachers. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the lived experiences of novice special education teachers in urban schools to broaden the current understanding regarding their perceptions of mentoring. Self-determination theory was the conceptual framework for examining the mentoring relationships and the participants’ perceptions. Using a phenomenological approach, in-depth face-to-face interviews were used with a purposeful sample of 10 novice special education teachers to collect data about mentoring programs. The key research questions pertained to novice special education teachers' perceptions regarding participation in mentoring programs for novice teachers. The findings from this study are that novice special education teachers’ exposure to mentoring varies and there is a need for mentoring programs that are specifically targeted to novice special education teachers. The results of this study revealed that the novice special education teacher participants felt confident in teaching students with disabilities. Participants also felt that mentoring was an important form of support and revealed that they intended to remain in the teaching profession, teaching students with disabilities. A better understanding of the needs of novice special education teachers will foster an improvement of mentoring programs supporting increased teacher retention affecting positive social change.