Key Experiences in Student Teachers’ Development

Feb. 01, 2011

Source: Journal Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 17, No. 1, 115–129. (February 2011). 
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The current study examines how student teachers perceive their first year of teaching, by examining how they picture their development, their key experiences during that development, and, in case of negative experiences, how they coped with those experiences.

The authors have addressed the following research questions:
(1) How do student teachers view their own development after their year of student teaching?

(2) What ‘key experiences’ do student teachers describe in their development after their year of student teaching, and in case of negative experiences, how did they cope with these experiences?

This study was carried out at a teacher education institute in the Netherlands.
Twelve student teachers representing different school subjects participated in this study.
They all did their teaching practice in different schools in the western part of the Netherlands.

Data were collected through a storyline instrument and semi-structured interviews.

Conclusion and Discussion

The authors found that many of the student teachers pictured times of downward mobility followed by a rise toward optimism.

However, the authors have found differences relating to how teachers in their first year deal with negative experiences.
Student teachers who drew lines without a disillusionment phase reported no key experiences.
Student teachers who drew two or more disillusionment phases, found it hard to reflect in a meaningful way on their teaching.
The student teachers who struggled with their own role in negative key experiences often did not regain their motivation for teaching.

The findings suggest that most of the student teachers in this study perceive their own development as a path with highs and lows, and with transformative moments or periods.

The authors recommend supervisors at teacher education institutes and practicing teachers mentoring student teachers in schools to be aware of the importance of:
● the great differences existing between student teachers’ individual development, according to their own perceptions;
● explicitly including student teachers’ own roles in reflecting on (positive or negative) key experiences; and
● explicitly focusing on student teachers’ commitment to students and student learning.

Updated: Nov. 06, 2012