10 SES 05 C, International Teacher Education Issues
This paper develops a deeper understanding of the lived meaning of challenging teaching environments for the beginner teacher identity. The study reports on transnational research which offers a wide context (Smith, 2005) of new information. Through a research partnership between Norway, Australia and South Africa the paper unveils the essence of misunderstandings and misconceptions of leaders and beginner teachers and what they mean for workplace cultures. The adjustment and transition from being a student teacher to being a beginner teacher is a well researched field. This paper however, examines the real-life experiences of beginner teachers in complex teaching positions in relation to the perceptions and understanding of their educational leaders. The paper highlights how challenging teaching situations, for example, teaching outside of qualifications, in environments with unfamiliar culture backgrounds, in a language that is not their first language or in remote areas without support influence leadership. The paper reveals specific cultures and traditions in schools surrounding beginner teachers. A theoretical framework based on Vygotsky’s (1978) social constructivist theories of the knowledgeable other in the learning space and Gadamer’s philosophy that understanding develops through language. The ‘language’ beginner teachers and their educational leaders use to explain their lived experiences unveil confronting concerns about connectedness and support while in these positions. The paper develops a better understanding and awareness of complexities and multi-layered global concerns surrounding beginner teachers in complex teaching situations. The paper generates new information which stimulates reflection n recruitment, placement and professional development policies of novice teachers. The lived meaning of being a beginner teacher and what it means for leadership models and their leadership strategies have benefits for teacher retention and comprehensive school development. School leaders are expected to make decisions that would benefit students and teachers. School leaders’ strategies and decisions influence the success of students’ learning (Hattie, 2009). The view that school leaders shape goals, motivations and actions, and initiate change to reach existing and new goals (Dimmock, 1999) is tested against the specific needs created by the out-of-field situation. Assignments of beginner teachers in complex teaching situations can be seen as “crisis management” or “snap shot” strategies implemented by school leaders to solve staffing problems. Our argument that leaders have a significant impact on the out-of-field experience and its meaning for effective learning is supported by Darling-Hammond’s (2010) comment that principals have, second to teachers, a major influence on student achievement. We further argue that leadership’s in-depth understanding, perceptions and strategies influence how engaged and aware leaders are of the needs of novice teachers. Spillane, Camburn, and Stitziel Pareja (2009) mentioned that leadership strategies determine the amount of time leaders spend on critical reflection and incidental interaction with staff members. We argue that leaders who spend a significant amount of time in their office become disconnected from the real-life experiences within complex classrooms and make decisions without understanding the lived experiences and needs of the involved teachers, students and parents. In conclusion the paper offers an in-depth transnational view of issues that develop because of misconceptions that exist between beginner teachers and their leadership.
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