Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Changes in Secondary School Preservice Teachers' Concerns about Teaching in New Zealand

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Changes in Secondary School Preservice Teachers' Concerns about Teaching in New Zealand

Article excerpt

When the first author of this article was about to enter a classroom for the first time, her concerns were in order: What am I going to wear? Will the students like me? Do I really know enough to teach? Will I have any discipline problems? Worrying first about one's 1st day of school outfit seems amusing now, but years later, we are hearing similar concerns from our preservice teachers, in roughly the same order (minus the wardrobe question).

It is not surprising that preservice teachers, especially those with little or no classroom experience, hold a naive view of teaching and have concerns about how efficacious they will be in the classroom. So, how can we best work with our preservice teachers to help them progress from being students themselves to being professionals? This study explored how the initial concerns of preservice teachers changed over the course of a 1-year secondary school teacher training program in New Zealand and examined those concerns as they related to teaching efficacy and experiences on practicum. It should be noted that the word concerns in this study refers to issues that lead to worry or anxiety.

Research on Preservice Teachers' Concerns

Examining concerns about teaching is not a new idea. Fuller (1969) first proposed a model of teacher development that was based on discrete stages of concerns, beginning with personal adequacy, followed by teaching tasks, and finally individual students' needs. Research on this model has yielded mixed results. Conway and Clark (2003) found support, and Reeves and Kazelskis (1985) reported partial support. However, Pigge and Marso (1997) argued that concerns are not discrete but overlap. Burn, Hagger, Mutton, and Everton (2003) and Haritos (2004) maintained that the model was too simplistic; similarly, Poulou (2007) questioned whether concerns follow a linear development. The order of the concerns in the model has also been disputed. Using nontraditional data collection methods, including drawing and card sorts, Swennen, Jorg, and Korthagen (2004) found that concerns about pupils ranked highest among a sample of Dutch preservice teachers' concerns. Boz (2008) reported that task-related concerns were most prevalent for a sample of Turkish preservice teachers, along with concerns related to meeting students' needs.

Brookhart and Freeman (1992) conducted a comprehensive review of 44 studies and established four major categories to describe teacher candidates in their first teaching preparation course: (a) the demographics of the samples, (b) motivations for becoming teachers, (c) perceptions of the roles and responsibilities of teachers, and (d) teacher candidates' concerns about teaching. In terms of concerns, Brookhart and Freeman reported that although new teacher candidates had high levels of self-confidence, more so for males than females, their optimism about their teaching skills was often idealized. Simultaneously, they were concerned about how they would perform once they were in front of students in the classroom. This led Brookhart and Freeman to conclude that the teacher candidates were confident but anxious. Whether beliefs changed over the course of teacher training was inconclusive from the review.

Research on preservice teachers' concerns in individual subject areas has included music (Campbell & Thompson, 2007), physical education (Capel, 1997; Meek & Behets, 1999; Wendt & Bain, 1989), science and/or mathematics (Dawson, 2007; McDonnough & Matkins, 2010; Nilsson, 2009; Zielinski & Preston, 1992), preparation for teaching in inclusive classrooms (Hamre & Oyler, 2004), and teaching students with .disabilities (Everhart, 2009; Pugach, 2005). Comparisons of alternate teacher certification programs with traditional teacher certification programs have also received some attention (Zientek, 2006, 2007). The concerns described in these studies largely mirror those of studies with broader cohorts. …

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