This article reports on findings of a small-scale study by a group of three teacher educators from the Bachelor of Teaching, Primary (BTP) at the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) in Hawke's Bay in 2016. The project began as a replication of a previous study from 2014 in which mentor teachers (MTs) from EIT's partner schools were interviewed about their experiences with transcripts analysed thematically. Analysis of the 2016 interviews generated four themes. Two of these, 'relationship' and 'communication', were identical to the previous study, suggesting MTs continue to value these aspects of partnership. The two other themes 'commitment' and 'collaboration', when compared with the themes of 'investment' and 'interdependence' from the earlier study, appeared to show a maturing and bedding in of the partnership. The project also expanded on the original design with a second level of analysis using positioning theory. Transcripts were analysed for linguistic markers related to positions, storylines, and speech acts, particularly the use of the word 'we'. The positioning analysis found participants offered 24 different categorisations of MT role activity, with only seven of these mentioned more than three times, suggesting these MTs conceptualise the role as complex and open to interpretation. Each MT adopted a distinct stance in describing their approach to candidate teacher support, drawing on metaphors as they did so. Four overarching storylines were identified, covering the benefits of the partnership model (particularly the value of feeling involved in programme design), the demands of being an MT, the challenges of working with candidate teachers and a sense of growing confidence and autonomy within the MT role. As for speech acts, five MTs used the word 'we' to denote personal alignment with their school, two used it to align with EIT or teacher educators (specifically in reference to programme development) and none used it to align with candidate teachers. The findings of this study reinforced the teacher educators' existing understandings about the importance of relationship and communication in the partnership and offered new insights into how these MTs conceptualise their role and operate in their own settings. The findings have been used to inform planning for ongoing MT support at EIT and may be of interest to other Initial Teacher Education programmes, particularly those involving partnerships and mentors.
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