10 SES 01 C, Special Call: Mapping Teacher Education across Europe and Beyond
Many European countries share the challenge of teacher shortages in schools. The situation is caused, among other things, by demographic transformation, drop out from the profession or additional teacher demand, e.g. due to educational innovations or refugee flows (Klemm, 2016). For this reason, efforts to create alternative qualification paths for the teaching profession are increasing (Reintjes et al., 2012; Allen & Allnutt, 2013; Melzer et al., 2014; Abs et al. 2015).
Traditionally trained beginning teachers and beginning teachers who are following an alternative pathway into teaching at the start of their work at school are confronted with different expectations and unusual demands. Common problems include overload due to many different job requirements and tasks but also poor professional relationships with colleagues at school (Fetherston & Lummis, 2012). The high early career teacher attrition rates have been analysed as a consequence of these type of problems (Kelly et al., 2014).
Especially at the beginning of their career teachers are dependent on support in order to cope with the new requirements and develop the capacity for autonomous action. Hence attention is often drawn to the importance and hopefully positive effects of supportive and cooperative offers. Induction and mentoring programmes in the early stages of a teacher’s career enable teachers to develop their professional skills and to build links within the school environment. Baeten & Meeus (2016) researched various teacher training programmes adapted for second-career teachers and determined seven components that the programmes should cover. Teacher training programmes should: include a preparatory phase; provide opportunities for transferring the expertise of second career teachers to the teaching profession; provide opportunities for self-directed learning and peer support; integrate course work and practical experience; provide extensive practical experience; provide intensive mentoring support; and be flexible in adapting programmes to the individual needs of participants. There is evidence that second career teachers particularly appreciate social support in their work because many of them are used to working in teams (Williams 2010; Uusimaki 2011; Lee & Lamport, 2011, as quoted in Baeten & Meeus, 2016). But empirical studies and experience at schools clearly show that cooperation often takes place only to a limited extent (Terhart & Klieme 2006).
Cooperation can be understood as the social interaction of individuals, groups and institutions. Cooperation theory distinguishes three levels affecting cooperation: Personality traits and attitudes are essential for cooperation on an individual level. On the interpersonal level, cooperation requires coordination processes and trust. Finally, cooperation at the structural level examines organisations, learning cultures and leadership (Balz & Spieß, 2009). Cooperation structures are of specific interest, because they may be easier to change than personality traits or interpersonal dynamics. Structures can be made accountable for the provision of beginning teachers with information about common expectations, resources at hand and professional development activities.
On this theoretical background, the paper presentation will focus on expectations for beginning teachers who are following an alternative pathway into teaching and on forms and frequencies of support offers through cooperation, as they are implemented at the structural level by the principals, whose leadership role has a particular influence on support and cooperation at school (Schmich & Burchert, 2010).
In order to cover expectations and support from the structural perspective of the school, school principals who are responsible for the induction of non-traditionally trained beginning teachers, have been surveyed. The paper uses a partial sample of the international project "A New Way for new Talents in Teaching (NEWTT)". The project compares traditionally and non-traditionally trained beginning teachers during their first two years. Two out of the five participating countries with the largest teacher samples have been selected, so the principal survey took place in Austria and Bulgaria and implements a semi-experimental design. Together the sample consists of over 40 principals, who have been responsible for the induction of beginning teachers form the Teach for Austria, respectively Teach for Bulgaria program. This was a one-time survey collecting data in an online format after the traditionally-trained beginning teachers and the Teach For All Fellows had served in their schools for one year. The survey addressed all principals from schools where participants of the NEWTT project were teaching. The questionnaire asked for background information on the person and the school, school management, cooperation and support with and for new teachers, tasks of new teachers in alternative education, and the perception of new teachers in alternative education. The instruments for the survey have been developed according to the research questions and whenever possible in alignment with the questionnaires used in TALIS (OECD 2010, 2014). This allows to compare not only demands and cooperation structures in two countries following the same international project, but also to compare results from the project with representative data for the respective countries.
The analyses are based on descriptive statistics. Differences between the groups were determined via T-tests. The tasks performed by the Fellows at schools were examined in more detail. The results show that school principals expect teachers in alternative training to often fulfil the same tasks as experienced teachers with traditional training already in the first years of employment, even if these tasks may be generally different depending on the country. Teacher induction in the two countries was compared, with a specific focus on Teach For All Schools. These schools create diverse support structures and the prospective teachers receive a lot of support. In addition the prevalence of opportunities for cooperation was analysed and the survey looked more specifically into content areas in which beginning teachers cooperate with teachers at schools. The results show that the majority of principals in both countries indicated with almost no differences between the countries that they met with new teachers and Fellows regularly. In addition teachers cooperated with Fellows in various areas, even if these areas may be generally different depending on the country.
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