01 SES 13 C, Teachers' Early Start: Professional Development Perspectives
There is a growing understanding that newly qualified teachers need some kind of support during their first year in teaching (Hobson et al., 2009). Even if there are different ways to support them (Kemmis et al., 2014), mentoring has become the dominant form (Bullough, 2012). However, recent research recommends more collective approaches to mentoring and it is also underlined that support from leadership plays a crucial role for new teachers (Caspersen & Raaen, 2014; Le Cornu, 2013; Pogdozinski et al., 2012). Newly qualified teachers is not a homogenous group, and one could question if there is one way to support them that fit all. The purpose of the current study is to explore how a compound group of new teachers experience the entrance into teaching. The research question is:
What motivation, expectations and experiences do a compound group of newly qualified teachers express after their first month in the teaching profession?
The study was conducted among newly qualified teachers in upper secondary school in Norway. The school offers a range of disciplines and therefor attracts a heterogeneous group of teachers. There will be teachers with practical work experiences from a vocation that are recruited to teach in vocational programmes. There will be teachers with a recent master degree from the university and limited work experience who are going to teach academic subjects – either in academic and/or in vocational programmes. Both programmes are offered under the same roof and there are some core subjects that are offered to all students independent of programme. Together these teachers are supposed to become part of a common school culture and often to teach the same students. However, one might assume that they have different needs and also that they might contribute to the school culture in different ways.
In Norway the increased understanding of newly qualified teachers needs has resulted in a national framework for mentoring put into force from the autumn 2018 (KD, 2018). All new teachers have been supposed to be offered mentoring from 2010. However, evaluation has shown that only 6 of 10 has been mentored. Furthermore, the content and frequency of mentoring vary from school to school (Rambøll, 2016). The new framework, an agreement among central stakeholders, has strengthen the right to quality mentoring. This study was conducted the autumn 2018, and after the new agreement was accepted.
Data is collected through an open ended questionnaire in a seminar for new teachers, their mentors and leaders. The seminar was an offer to all new teachers in upper secondary school in a county in Norway. The questionnaire was handed out the first of a two day seminar. The second day the questionnaire was used in a group work, and then we asked the new teachers to voluntarily hand in their answers in the end of the seminar. Most of them did, and we got 24 answers. In the questionnaire they were asked some demographic questions like for example about work experience and education. Thereafter they were asked about motivation for teaching and to explain if and how the first period in teaching met their expectations. Furthermore, they were asked about how they were supported in their job and to describe critical incidents from the first period in teaching. The last question was related to their expectations for further professional development in their schools. The data was analyzed thematically based on a constructivist paradigm and from an inductive or data driven approach (Braun & Clarke, 2006).
What motivated the teachers are to work among young people and make a difference in their life (21) and to share their subject with others (10). 23 of the 24 state that they have previous work experiences, and 17 of 24 have previous experiences from substitute teaching. They expected teaching to be busy, but fun. Some find it busier than expected, others more fun than imagined. It is the relationship with students that challenges as well as offers joy. Colleagues are described as friendly and willing to share, but systematic support is limited. For further development the main whishes are to get a more formalized support, and to discuss cases from the classroom with groups of colleagues. Even if all new teachers are supposed to be mentored (KD, 2018), we found that the majority in our sample only got informal mentoring during their first month in the profession, and it is often leaders who take care of the initial support. Furthermore, the arrangements in schools do not seem to take into consideration the resources new teachers bring with them. While it is claimed that new teachers have a small repertoire of experiences to draw on (Le Maistre & Pare, 2010), we found that our sample had a range of different backgrounds that could be useful for the school and that they also could draw on in their teaching. Thus the group we met were far from helpless. Nevertheless, they wanted formal support, collaboration and to have a forum for discussing cases from the classroom. However, in order to support others, one has to understand their point of departure. We suggest that schools offer mentoring arrangements from day one, arrangements that can be adjusted to different needs, and also consider how new colleagues can contribute to the workplace.
Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative research in psychology, 3(2), 77–101. Bullough Jr, R. V. (2012). Mentoring and new teacher induction in the United States: A review and analysis of current practices. Mentoring & tutoring: partnership in learning, 20(1), 57–74. Caspersen, J., & Raaen, F.D. (2014). Novice teachers and how they cope. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 20(2), 189–211. Hobson, A.J., Ashby, P., Malderez, A. &Tomlinson, P.D. (2009). Mentoring beginning teachers: What we know and what we don't. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(1), 207–216. Kunnskapsdepartementet (KD) (2018). Veiledning av nyutdannede nytilsatte lærere i barnehage og skole. Retrieved from: https://www.regjeringen.no/contentassets/0081e41fad994cfdbb4e0364a2eb8f65/veiledning-av-nyutdannede-nytilsatte-larere-i-barnehage-og-skole.pdf Kemmis, S., Heikkinen, H.L.T., Fransson, G., Aspfors, J. & Edwards-Groves, C. (2014). Mentoring of new teachers as a contested practice: Supervision, support and collaborative self-development. Teaching and teacher education, 43, 154–164. Le Cornu, R. (2013). Building Early Career Teacher Resilience: The Role of Relationships. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 38(4), 1–16. Pogodzinski, B., Youngs, P., Frank, K. A., & Beltman, D. (2012). Administrative climate and novices’ intent to remain teaching. The elementary school journal, 113(2), 252–275. Rambøll (2016). Veiledning av nyutdannede barnehagelærere og lærere: En evaluering av veiledningsordningen og veilederutdanningen. Retrieved from: http://www.udir.no/globalassets/filer/tall-og-forskning/rapporter/2016/evaluering-av-veiledningsordningen-sluttrapport.pdf
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