Date of Award

12-2004

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Major

Teacher Education

Major Professor

Lester Knight

Committee Members

Thomas Turner, Bethany Dumas, Jinx Watson

Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative study was to gain insight into the perceptions that second career novice teachers have about their preservice training and their preparedness for taking on the challenges of teaching during their first semester as “real” teachers. Through an increased understanding of novice teachers’ perceptions and experiences, teacher educators may be better equipped to structure preservice learning that is both relevant and meaningful for teacher education candidates.

Four second career novice teachers were involved in this study that spanned the first semester of teaching after their graduation from a fifteen-month alternative program. Qualitative methods of data collection included individual interviews, journal entries, and paired interviews. Constant comparative and analytic induction designs were used for the analysis of data collected in this research study. Research questions addressed included: 1) Why did these second career novice teachers choose to change directions in their career paths and pursue teaching? 2) What experiences did they find were the most beneficial (or most obstructive) in preparing them to become teachers? 3) What challenges did they face in their first six months of teaching? 4) In what ways did they learn to define themselves as teachers? 5) What can be learned from this research that will inform the way potential teachers are recruited and trained?

Findings from the data analysis revealed the following similarities across research participants: 1) Teaching was selected as a career choice because participants wanted to “make a difference” in other people’s lives. 2) Prior life and work experiences positively impacted the ability of participants to transition into teaching as a career. 3) Challenges in their first six months of teaching included working conditions, mentoring, and preconceptions versus the realities of teaching. 4) Novice teachers moved rapidly toward teacher identity and in identifying teaching concerns from self to task and impact. 5) Implications for teacher education programs include choosing appropriate grade-level placements for interns, establishing mentoring relationships with cooperating teachers, and creating a forum for ongoing dialogue among teacher educators, novice teachers, and school system administrators and teachers.

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