Section archive - Beginning Teachers
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Metaphorically drawing the transition into teaching: What early career teachers reveal about identity, resilience and agency
This article examines the transition experiences of four early career teachers throughout their first year of teaching. Using metaphorical drawings and narratives, this study investigated the relationship between identity, resilience and agency during this transition period. By drawing on legitimate peripheral participation as a theoretical lens to theorise teachers’ transition experiences, the findings reveal that identity, resilience and agency worked in tandem to enable each early career teacher to look beyond challenges, pressure and fluctuating confidence during this critical transition period. These findings shed new light on why some teachers successfully withstand pressure throughout their first year of teaching.
Updated: May. 02, 2022
8Novice preschool teachers’ professional skills as assessed by preschool principals and the novice teachers themselves
Novice teachers’ need for support and induction is widely recognized, and so is the role of principals in that process. Accountability-driven reforms in education have compelled principals to increasingly focus on managerial responsibilities, whereas teachers are subjected to external assessment of their professional qualities and their students’ learning outcomes. This role division can undermine the principals’ readiness for instructional leadership and can affect their perceptions of novice teachers’ needs, knowledge, skills, and attitudes, which in turn potentially inhibits adequate support given to novice teachers. Therefore, it is important to know how principals and novice teachers assess novice teachers’ professional qualities. In this study, the authors investigated the Estonian preschool principals’ and novice preschool teachers’ assessments of the professional skills of novice teachers. Fifty-seven principals and 61 first-year teachers responded to a written questionnaire. They first found that, in almost all aspects, the novice teachers assessed their professional skills higher than did the preschool principals. Second, they found that when combining the assessments of both groups of respondents, the lowest ratings were given on novice teachers’ skills in working with children with different linguistic and cultural backgrounds and with children with special needs. They discuss relevant implications for early childhood teacher education.
Updated: Apr. 11, 2022
The year 2020 was one of unprecedented uncertainty for initial teacher education (ITE) with newly qualified teachers (NQTs) entering schools in the summer of 2020 still disrupted by COVID-19. Unfortunately, these disruptions have continued into 2021. This study explored the advice a group of NQTs have for student-teachers graduating during the disruptions to education caused by COVID-19. Through the use of a qualitative online survey, NQTs were asked to provide advice to student-teachers graduating this year. The findings provide three pieces of advice for ITE graduates: (1) Be mentally prepared; (2) Be practically prepared; and (3) Be flexible and adaptable. It is hoped that the advice provided by NQTs will help ITE graduates feel better prepared to begin teaching during uncertain times.
Updated: Apr. 05, 2022
The article discusses parent–teacher relationships in school micropolitics based on beginning teachers’ stories. The authors employ a narrative approach and investigate how micropolitical conditions and strategies are portrayed in beginning teachers’ stories of parent–teacher relationships. The research material consists of narrative interviews with seven Finnish primary school teachers in the first and second years of their careers. The findings indicate that micropolitical processes play a part in constructing parent–teacher relationships. These micropolitics both enable and limit these relationships and influence how beginning teachers learn to cope with parent relationships. The findings reveal various micropolitical strategies that beginning teachers use to enact and construct parent–teacher relationships. Furthermore, the findings show that parent–teacher relationships do not necessarily include just parents and teachers, but are multidimensional, encompassing several intertwined relationships that micropolitically condition parent–teacher relationships. The implications for pre- and in-service teacher education and school leaders are considered.
Updated: Mar. 30, 2022
Change advocacy as coping strategy: how beginning teachers cope with emotionally challenging situations
Beginning to teach after teacher education is commonly depicted as an emotionally challenging period. Beginning teachers deploy strategies to cope with the emotionally challenging transition from teacher education and starting a position as a teacher. One way of coping is trying change the origin of the challenges. The aim of the study was to investigate how teachers in their last year as student teachers and their first year as teachers make meaning of a change advocacy strategy to cope with challenging situations as teachers. A qualitative interview study was performed. Twenty-five participants were interviewed while studying in their last year of teacher education, and 20 were interviewed again after having worked as a teacher for a year. In between, 68 self-reports were collected. The material was analysed using constructivist grounded theory tools. The findings show that as student teachers the participants identified two prerequisites to be able to use the change advocacy strategy as beginning teachers: (1) establishing teacher ambiguity and (2) challenging the perceived negative mindset. When utilising a change advocacy strategy as beginning teachers, the participants tried to reform teaching practices and attain a position of competence.
Updated: Mar. 29, 2022
Are you positive that you’re positive?: The downside to maintaining positivity as a first-year teacher
This year-long qualitative study follows a new teacher, who had self-identified as a ‘positive person’, through her first year in the classroom to explore the ways in which she maintained that disposition in the face of the difficulties that the work of teaching entails. Using a lens of emotion states and traits, we catalogued several different strategies this teacher used to return to her ‘positive’ emotion trait. A close examination of the data through I-Poems revealed that the very strategies she used were a type of avoidance from situations that produced uncomfortable emotion states. This avoidance contributed to a false sense of positivity, a dissonant between the teacher’s reported experiences and her perceived sense of self, gradually leading to burnout. The focus on maintaining her desired emotion trait distracted from the need to process her emotional experiences to improve her practice. Implications for teaching and teacher education are discussed.
Updated: Mar. 29, 2022
Coping with emotionally challenging expectations: Japanese beginning teachers and their relationships with students’ parents’
This article examines emotionally challenging expectations in the relationships beginning teachers have with students’ parents. The data consist of narrative interviews with 17 Japanese beginning teachers. Due to strong cultural and social norms prescribing appropriate social interactions, Japanese teachers have little leeway in negotiating parents’ expectations. The authors found that beginning teachers described facing three emotionally challenging expectations in their relationships with students’ parents: 1) they do not fully understand what is expected of them; 2) they are expected to turn to colleagues for help with difficult issues involving parents; and 3) they are expected to endure and learn from criticism. To cope with these emotionally challenging expectations, beginning teachers perform emotional labour. The article presents a wider understanding of teachers’ work as a relational practice and offers insights that can be used to move beyond the discourse that frames beginning teachers from a ‘deficit’ perspective.
Updated: Mar. 15, 2022
When performativity meets agency: how early career teachers struggle to reconcile competing agendas to become ‘quality’ teachers
Early career teachers are increasingly required to be ‘classroom ready’ upon graduation and to demonstrate capabilities that match their more experienced colleagues. They are also joining a profession that is characterised by increased scrutiny and accountability driven by standards that seek to identify the hallmarks of good teaching. This agenda, constructed around a discourse of ‘quality’, has created dilemmas for early career teachers. However, little is known about how early career teachers navigate these pressures as they begin their careers. This article reports on a study that sought high-achieving graduate teachers’ perceptions of teacher quality and how they assessed their own practices within a ‘quality’ framework. The study found that high-achieving early career teachers wrestle with their perceptions of what a ‘good’ teacher might be and do, and how this contrasts with official representations of a ‘quality teacher’, and that they frequently ‘govern’ themselves using the regulations and discourses related to ‘the quality teacher’. The authors argue that broader conceptualisations of teacher quality are needed to enable early career teachers to develop as agentic professionals.
Updated: Mar. 14, 2022
This mixed methods study investigates novice teacher and coach survey responses from a two-year induction programme to learn more about what makes a good match. The authors qualitatively analyse comments from all novice teachers and coaches who were paired across years and find shared themes of structural, professional, and personality similarities as well as the importance of coaching support prominent throughout novice teacher responses. They also use logistic regression to indicate that novice teachers’ ratings of coaching skills and coaches’ beliefs about the induction programme fitting within vertical professional development were positive and significant predictors of perceptions of being well matched. Findings have implications for induction programmes on how to match their coaches with novice teachers to enhance teacher development.
Updated: Mar. 02, 2022
Comparing motivations of pre-service and beginning teachers in China: impact of culture and experience
The study examines beginning teachers’ and pre-service teachers’ motivation to teach in China. Data are drawn from questionnaires completed by 107 beginning teachers (full-time teachers with fewer than six years’ working experience) and 122 pre-service teachers, and semi-structured interviews with 19 of them. The respondents all emphasised social influences, personal utility value, and social utility value, and all viewed the teaching profession as a career high in demands but low in returns. However, pre-service teachers showed higher motivation than beginning teachers, except for items regarding intrinsic value, fall-back careers, and teaching ability. This study suggests a ‘culture-motivation’ framework for understanding teachers’ motivation in China.
Updated: Feb. 17, 2022