Redesigning Teacher Education Programs to Meet the Needs of Today's Second Career Pre-Service Teachers

Redesigning Teacher Education Programs to Meet the Needs of Today's Second Career Pre-Service Teachers

Patricia Dickenson (National University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0164-0.ch025
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Research suggests the fastest growing group in teacher training programs is second career teachers (Brooks & Hill, 2004). This chapter examines the profiles of second-career pre-service teachers in a blended online program in Silicon Valley, California. Participants' motivations and reasons for becoming an educator were examined from a sociocultural lens to understand how economic, social, and cultural factors might influence their decision to enter the teaching profession. In addition, formative, social, and personal experiences provide insight as to why this group selected a non-traditional teacher education program, and what prior skills and experiences they bring to the teaching profession.
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In order to provide a comprehensive examination of the profiles of second-career pre-service teachers, two theoretical frameworks were examined. The first framework concerned teacher identity. According to Taylor (1989) identity can be defined as “the commitments and identifications which provide the frame or horizon within which I can try to determine from case to case what is good, or valuable, or what ought to be done, or what I endorse or oppose” (p. 27). From this perspective identity is shaped by one’s previous experiences and beliefs, which influences one’s decisions and choices in the future. SCPTs previous career is part of their identity and contributes to the way they view knowledge, pedagogy, student-teacher relationships, and the choices they make with regards to curriculum and instruction. When new information is delivered it would be valuable to make a connection to past experience of SCPTs. This will allow the instructor to determine prior knowledge and skills as well as misconceptions the SCPT may have. In addition, tapping into prior experiences provides the pre-service teacher with a means to transfer skills and knowledge into a teaching context. Since identity is constructed from past experiences, co-constructed when information is acquired and reconstructed with new experiences SCPT’s identity is as a dynamic exchange between one’s professional sense of self and beliefs about teaching.

According to Zembylas (2003), teacher identity is a “non-linear, unstable process by which an individual confirms or problematizes who she/he is/becomes” (p. 221). As SCPTs step into the role of classroom teacher they will take on a new identity that is shaped by their previous career, social environment and teacher education program. The experiences of the SCPT should be viewed from a sociocultural lens to best understand how teacher education programs may evolve to support these future teachers.

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