The Role of Teacher Self-Strategies in First Year Teacher Experience and Teacher Socialisation

The Role of Teacher Self-Strategies in First Year Teacher Experience and Teacher Socialisation

Ekaterina Kozina (Dublin City University, Ireland), Aidan Seery (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland) and Andrew Loxley (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2122-0.ch056

Abstract

It is recognised that the first year of professional practice of teachers, also known as an induction year, has far reaching implications for their subsequent teaching career. This chapter discusses the findings of a large scale mixed-methods research project (2006-2010) conducted on the socialisation experiences of beginning primary teachers in the Republic of Ireland. In detail, the project was concerned with real life experiences of teachers as they progress through their first year of professional practice. The data on which the chapter reports was collected by means of a postal questionnaire to 1635 teachers and 52 in-depth qualitative interviews. The authors start the discussion by providing a rationale for this research and a broad overview of the teaching challenges faced by beginning teachers. Consideration is given to the ways in which first year teachers generate knowledge and meaning from an interaction between their experiences of classroom teaching and their approaches to address challenges they encounter. More specifically, the chapter discusses teacher self-strategies to find solutions to challenges to their practice and the ways in which collaboration and interaction with colleagues promotes classroom environments conducive to more effective teaching and learning. Lastly, some insight is provided into the models of induction supports available in primary schools and their potential to transform the experience of classroom teaching for beginning primary teachers.
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Introduction

Within the literature the first few months of teaching in a primary school classroom are sometimes referred to as a praxis shock (Gold, 1996). These months are also characterised by a great deal of stress for teachers. Kelchtermans and Ballet (2002, p.105) clarified the complexity of the first year by stating that praxis shock specifically refers to the “teachers’ confrontation with the realities and responsibilities of being a classroom teacher, that puts their beliefs and ideas about teaching to the test, challenges some of them, and confirms others.” For beginning teachers from the very first day they enter the classroom, learning to teach ‘well’ appears to be the most challenging task, involving the decision on what curriculum content to cover, planning, structuring and effectively delivering lessons, assessing pupils’ understanding of the subject knowledge and appropriately adjusting to pupils’ learning styles and needs. Besides that, newly qualified teachers (NQTs)1 also have to manage student behaviour, deal with the time overload, and plan developmentally appropriate lessons (Gold, 1996). It is not surprising that to describe their teaching early in their first year, NQTs use the words such as ‘scared,’ ‘wrong,’ and ‘awful’ (Lundeen, 2004).

The following sections of this chapter aim at identifying and exploring the experiences inherent in the process of becoming a classroom teacher and a learner in a profession. In particular, the chapter starts with a rationale for our research and an overview of teaching challenges encountered within the dimensions of classroom teaching. In order to fully explore the ways in which first year teachers generate knowledge and meaning from an interaction between their experiences of classroom teaching and their ideas and approaches to address challenges which they encountered, the chapter addresses the following key themes:

  • 1.

    How beginning teachers learn to manage classrooms effectively? Here, we specifically report on the most common challenging areas teachers found difficult to deal with in their first year within the areas of classroom teaching.

  • 2.

    By what means do teachers develop necessary knowledge and skills to be able to teach confidently? And what are the self-strategies of teachers to find solutions to challenges of their practice?

  • 3.

    What are the potential sources of support allowing teachers to gain the necessary knowledge and skills in the areas of classroom management, dealing with discipline, planning, pupils’ assessment and the use of teaching resources thus improving their expertise? In what ways do collaboration and interaction with colleagues promote classroom environments conducive for more effective teaching and learning?

In addition, we also comment on some models of induction supports available in primary schools that have the potential to transform the experience of classroom teaching for NQTs.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Higher: Diploma (H. Dip.) in Primary Teaching: This professional course is a full-time eighteen months long post-graduate course.

Bachelor in Education (B. Ed.): A degree which is usually taught over three to four years full-time.

Mentor: Usually a more experienced teacher who is paired with a beginning teacher during the induction process.

Collaborative Professional Learning: A process of knowledge construction by means of engaging in active dialogue with colleagues. As a result, participants share their ideas, perspectives, locate contradictions in their own experiences and arrive to new interpretations and stances on the issues explored.

Induction: Conceptualised as a process which acts as a bridge between initial teacher education and subsequent professional development and enables a new teacher to become an effective member of the school.

Induction Year: Generally refers to the first year of teaching. Generally coincides with a one year probationary period of teaching in school.

Initial Teacher Education (ITE): One of the components of the continuum of teacher education. A period of time spent in teacher training college, during which some basic perspectives and attitudes towards teaching profession are acquired.

Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT): Beginning teacher or novice teacher starting his/her first year of professional practice.

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