Source: Teacher Education Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 2, Spring 2011
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
In this study, the authors explored the journey of five secondary teachers for two years through their teacher education program and their first year of teaching.
The participants were five secondary preservice teachers in their two years during their teacher education program and their first year of teaching.
Data were collected through participants’ autobiographies, interviews, and focus group discussions.
The findings revealed: (1) major concerns of the preservice teachers; and (2) teacher educators used strategies to help the preservice teachers face their concerns.
During their student teaching experiences, participants were concerned about classroom management, keeping students motivated in learning the content, and parent involvement through knowledge of their children’s academic progress or non-progress as well as of their behavioral issues. The authors also noted that the participants expressed concern for making connections with diverse student populations.
As first-year teachers, they fully understood their multiple roles as teachers and perceived teaching as more than content delivery. Classroom management became manageable. They used various strategies to motivate students in content areas, and viewed building relationships with students. Parent involvement remained as one of the major challenges during first-year teaching, and new challenges, including testing pressures, lack of administrative support, lack of resources, and keeping the balance between teaching and their personal lives, were emerged.
In building relationships with their students and learning from their students, the participants also used positive connections they could make given the proximity of their ages and their students’. These types of strategies, including ways to explore the teachers’ own backgrounds and assets through guided reflection or assignments, taught them to make connections with students and enhanced the teachers’ awareness of their own assumptions and preferences. Therefore, the authors believe that teacher candidates need to be equipped with ways to better understand others and to become more aware of their own identities in an effort to better serve the needs of all students in diverse settings.
In their focus groups, they had opportunities to learn from each other, and they found that they were not alone in their journeys. The focus groups appeared to allow them to create their own professional learning community, where they gained strength and support from each other.
Therefore, in order to better prepare secondary teachers, the authors believe that as teacher educators they need to:
1. Continue engaging teacher candidates in the exploration of and reflection on their own identities through intentional, cohesive assignments in teacher education programs;
2. Provide teacher candidates various opportunities in teacher education programs to interact with and learn from diverse K-12 students and their families, and encourage them to develop various strategies to build relationships with the 21st-century students they teach and with their families;
3. Provide teacher candidates with structured opportunities to reflect upon the realities of today’s college and university students as these realities relate to the preparation of effective teachers and transition to professional roles and responsibilities;
4. Be more involved in diverse school settings themselves so that teacher educators could be better aware of and more responsive to teacher candidates’ changing concerns and struggles as they work with the increasingly diverse student population in the 21st century;
5. Engage teacher candidates in professional learning communities where they can learn from and provide support for each other.