Source: Issues in Teacher Education, Volume 21, No. 1, Spring 2012, p. 89-108.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
In this study, the authors intended to focus on:
(1) the development of teachers’ self-perception of their roles;
(2) the major concerns of the teacher candidates; and
(3) the reasons behind these concerns.
Two major research questions were addressed in this study:
(1) How do secondary teacher candidates perceive their roles as teachers before and after student teaching?
(2) What are secondary teacher candidates’ main concerns and sources of such concerns before and after student teaching?
Through autobiographies, interviews and focus groups, they followed the development of seven secondary teacher candidates over the last two years of their teacher education program.
The authors summarized the following themes that were observed and expressed by our students.
First, the findings revealed that secondary teacher candidates considered their roles as teachers as being both the authority and facilitator in the classroom, and focused on both content delivery and student moral development.
In regards to being an authority in the classroom, secondary teacher candidates were concerned about both being authoritative and authoritarian.
In addition, while the teacher candidates would like to establish their authority to ease their concerns regarding classroom management, the constructivist teaching models promoted in our teacher education program also call for them to take on a greater facilitator’s role rather than an authoritarian one as practiced in a traditional lecture format.
It is a challenge, therefore, for teacher educators to facilitate teacher candidates’ growth in seeking the balance between the authority and facilitator role so they feel comfortable in their position to not only impart content area knowledge, but also to make learning an interactive process with their students.
Second, while the participants’ concerns and struggles with classroom management and relationships with students were not unusual for teacher candidates, the authors acknowledged that the teachers also mentioned their concerns with the effectiveness of their instruction and diverse needs of their students in their discussion of classroom management.
As teacher educators, it is important for them to bring those issues to the discussion prior to their internships and student teaching so that their teacher candidates have a solid understanding of the school culture and its dynamics and feel prepared and empowered when they become first-year teachers.
Third, it is important for teacher educators to recognize teacher candidates’ struggles between the ideal and the reality of teaching, and their concerns with the ways they present themselves in front of the students.
Finally, the fact that one of the participants did not pass student teaching also cautioned the authors as teacher educators that teacher candidates’ passion for the content, for teaching, and for working with students, is necessary but definitely not sufficient to ensure success in teacher preparation.
While teacher candidates need to be encouraged to step out of their comfort zones and face various conflicts between their image of teaching and the teaching reality, it is critical for teacher educators to provide systematic support and facilitation along their journey of becoming.
The authors conclude teacher educators need to re-evaluate their own visions for teacher education and contextualize their curriculum, including the knowledge of content, pedagogical experience and knowledge of learners, to reflect the reality of today’s schools.