Source: Teacher Development, Vol. 16, No. 3, August 2012, 387–398.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The purpose of the present study is to investigate the growth and development of a novice teacher participating in a Continuing professional development (CPD) project.
The study is guided by the following questions:
(1) How does the novice teacher view the project approach?
(2) How can the novice teacher grow and learn from CPD?
School and project background information
The project site was a Hong Kong kindergarten, during the academic year 2009 to 2010.
Twenty-eight five-year-old children were involved in the CPD project.
The present study included two class teachers, May and Kate.
Kate is a graduate of a three-year Certificate of Kindergarten Teacher Education (Pre-service) program.
After graduating, she began to work at the kindergarten, and had been there for two years.
May is a graduate of the Certificate of Kindergarten Teacher Education (In-service) program, with 12 years of teaching experience in the field of early childhood education.
May and Kate began their lessons by setting a goal that the children must achieve through their instruction.
After the daily classroom activities, they shared their observations and teaching experiences. Afterwards, they modified the lesson based on their discussions and classroom experiences.
Data collection and analysis
To understand the growth and development of the novice teacher, the school consultant studied Kate’s reflective journal and interviewed her four times within a period of nine months. Meetings were held at the beginning and the end of training, and at the middle and the end of the project.
Other important steps included:
(1) identification of the major themes in relation to the participant experiential timelines; and (2) repeated listening to audio-taped and reading materials on reflective journal to allow sympathetic and empathetic identification with the subjective experience, feeling status, and growth of the teacher.
Preliminary planning and selection of the project
During spring, the kindergarten visited a community park with two classes of five-year-old children.
Kate and May collaborated on planning the essential knowledge that they hoped the children would acquire.
These essential topics and ideas were noted in their weekly lesson plans.
These topics and ideas were kept in mind as the teachers designed the learning experience that would help the children answer their questions regarding animals, plants, and birds.
Based on the findings of the current paper, the CPD project supports the professional development of a novice teacher in three areas.
First, it helps develop teaching competencies.
In previous reflections on how Kate has learned from the lesson, CPD elicited an in-depth analysis of the instructional decisions and children’s learning, including the need for a detailed explanation of the specific difficulties encountered in her classroom.
Second, it promotes positive socialization in organization and in the profession.
For example, Kate highlighted the need for content relevance and for situated, work-embedded, and contextualized learning that could enable educators to share their teaching experiences with others, reflect on practices, test new programs, and implement projects Such learning may include peer coaching, critiques from friends and colleagues, quality reviews, appraisals, action research, portfolio assessments, and collaborative work.
Finally, it facilitates the development of one’s professional identity.
As a professional teacher, Kate emphasized rich academic knowledge and good teaching practices as the most importance areas in teaching.
At present, she has become aware of the essence of reflectivity and metacognition.
The present study illustrates the important challenges teacher educators face in finding new ways to create learning opportunities in teaching students and novice teachers.
Such opportunities would be meaningful for teacher educators in their own professional development and growth.
The author claims that the organizational learning and support of teachers for each other’s professional growth occur within an organization.
The role of the school leader in his/her school’s transformation in becoming a learning organization depends on the leader’s competence.
As a more experienced colleague, the mentor is a supporter of the novice teacher’s professional development within the school context.
The mentor also helps the novice teacher adjust to the school as an organization and to the teaching profession, and provides assistance in solving everyday work-related problems.
However, teacher education in Hong Kong has never focused on developing a support structure for novice teachers, especially in the early stages of their career.
The professional development of a teacher is a continuous process.
This includes initial training, induction year (including entering the profession and socialization), and in-service training.
Teacher education must also include a support program for novice teachers.