Culturally Responsive Mentoring for Music Educators – A Presentation Preview for the Upcoming MSWI Conference



For music educators, establishing positive, dependable relationships with colleagues in the community is an important element of the mentoring process. Culturally responsive care, when applied to mentoring, fosters an environment where individuals are fully seen in all aspects of their identity through a holistic and anti-oppressive approach to mentorship. For music teacher educators, this means deliberately considering and engaging in relevant discussion about all aspects of a pre-service music educator’s life and how they have shaped that person into becoming an educator. It also means becoming cognizant of biases, judgements, and assumptions of cultural differences and similarities in the mentor–mentee relationship. Culturally responsive mentoring offers an approach to mentoring that models culturally responsive care within the mentor–mentee relationship.

In our upcoming presentation about “Culturally Responsive Mentoring for Music Educators” at the Music, Spirituality, and Wellbeing Conference, we will examine the ways in which implicit bias, privilege, color blindness, and racial microaggressions might threaten the mentor–mentee relationship. We will also discuss factors such as imposter syndrome, within-group bias, stereotype threat, code switching, and internalized racism as they pertain to the mentorship process. We will begin with an overview of the relevant culturally responsive mentoring literature from general education and add to it our experiences of incorporating culturally responsive techniques into our music teacher mentoring program. This program has already helped several young music educators address the aforementioned issues with positivity and preparedness, but our presentation is intended to move those techniques into a broader context that can be useful to music educators at any stage of their careers.

Music teachers often enter into isolated positions without the time, staffing, or resources to meet with others throughout their days, and they typically do not receive a great deal of relevant mentorship or professional development. It is an unfortunate consequence of the unique role responsibilities that music teachers fill in their schools and often leads to work-related stress and burnout that can go unidentified and unsupported. We hope that our work will contribute to the growing network of music educators who wish to provide thoughtful guidance to their colleagues in times of need.

Our presentation invites participants to look inward–to describe the ways in which aspects of power, oppression, and structural inequality have appeared in their personal and professional lives–and to think about the ways in which those conditions might impact music educator mentees and the music education profession as a whole. To minimize negative mentorship experiences with early-career music educator mentees, culturally relevant mentoring creates an opportunity to build trust, foster mutual respect and wellbeing, and encourage personal and professional growth in an increasingly diverse and ever changing music classroom.


-Dennis Giotta, Adrienne Bedell, & Allison Paetz

Case Western Reserve University, USA



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