Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Beginning teachers' perceptions of their induction into teaching

Keywords: teacher induction, mentoring, programs for beginning teachers

Authors: Ms Sue Hudson (Queensland University of Technology), Doctor Denise Beutel (Queensland University of Technology), Doctor Peter Hudson (Queensland University of Technology)

The quality of the experience in the early years of teaching has long-term implications for teacher efficacy, job satisfaction and career length. Comprehensive school-based induction programs are crucial for successful transitions into professional practice and for retaining beginning teachers in the profession. Indeed, quality mentoring programs can shape significantly beginning teachers' practices. However, in Australia, teacher induction occurs in an ad hoc, sporadic and piecemeal fashion often with inadequate support and mentoring with many beginning teachers left to navigate their way unaided into the profession. The aim of this qualitative, year-long study was to explore and describe the induction experiences of eight beginning teachers as they negotiated their first year of teaching. The participants of this study were selected randomly from a student cohort who attended the same Australian regional university and completed a four-year Bachelor of Education (Primary) degree. Multiple forms of data were collected from the teachers throughout their first year of teaching. By the end of the year only one beginning teacher appeared to be consistently mentored on whole school programming, and planning for improving teaching with opportunities to visit classrooms of more experienced teachers. This lack of support was evident regardless that all the beginning teachers had indicated at the commencement of the year that they would need assistance in many aspects of professional practice. This study highlights the need for principals and school staff to re-assess their contribution to beginning teachers' development within specific school contexts, which includes the allocation of a mentor to discuss key issues and share practices, scheduled time for collaboration with colleagues, support for continued professional development, and clear guidelines for mentor support. Furthermore, these induction programs should reflect the needs of beginning teachers with mentoring programs tailored to enhance explicit teaching practices.

The high attrition rate of teachers, but particularly that of beginning teachers, is of international concern. While the literature highlighting the importance of comprehensive induction programs for beginning teachers abounds, the implementation of these programs appears to be sporadic with their nature and quality varying widely. This paper is aimed at promoting discussion amongst practitioners and policy makers in an attempt to develop a coordinated approach for supporting the needs of beginning teachers in their transition to professional practice.

Date: Wednesday 23 January 2008, 12.00-12.30

Venue: Carrick Two

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Organised by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services in association with PEPE (Practical Experiences in Professional Education).