What Do First-Year Special Education Teachers Need?

By Whitaker, Susan D. | Teaching Exceptional Children, September/October 2000 | Go to article overview

What Do First-Year Special Education Teachers Need?


Whitaker, Susan D., Teaching Exceptional Children


Implications for Induction Programs

My first year was much tougher than I expected. I had no curriculum, no support, no experienced special education teacher in the building, and no real experience at the district level. I was at school almost every day until 6 or 7 o'clock. I would arrive before the sun came up and leave after dark. By November I called my mom one night just bawling on the phone to tell her I wanted to work at Belks or Winn-Dixie-I didn't care. I was not going back to teach! (Jessica)

I didn't think it was that bad. But there were parts that were harder than I thought ... But I'm also out in a portable with my mentor-she's the other resource teacher. That helped a lot. I got a lot of support. (Emily)

The first year was horrible.. . . My mentor was not a special education teacher. The department chair was too busy to help.... I was glad I was older. I think if I had been 20 or 21 I would not have stuck it out. I probably would have finished my first year and said forget it! (Linda)

The first year of teaching is portrayed in the literature as being a very difficult year in which the teacher transitions from being a student responsible for his or her own learning to being a teacher responsible for fostering learning in others (Cooke & Pang, 1991; Lortie, 1975; Ryan, 1992). Whereas a number of studies have examined the first year of teaching for teachers in general, little research has focused on the first year of teaching for special education teachers. There is much evidence, however, that the teachers who are leaving special education tend to be the younger, inexperienced teachers (Gonzalez, 1996; Miller, Brownell, & Smith, 1999; Singer, 1992). In addition, several studies have reported that a successful first-year experience is a critical factor in the retention of special education teachers (Billingsley, 1993; Bogenschild, Lauritzen, & Metzke, 1988; Smith-Davis & Cohen, 1989).

Concern for the needs of the firstyear teacher, the existing shortage of special education teachers, and the high rates of teacher attrition in special education have led to the recommendation that mentoring be provided as a support to all beginning special education teachers. In 1989, The Council for Exceptional Children adopted standards for special educators entering into professional practice that included a minimum of a 1-year mentorship during the first year of professional special education practice (The Council for Exceptional Children, 1998).

Needs of Beginning Special Education Teachers

Some beginning special education teachers, such as Emily, move quite smoothly into their new roles (see box, "Mentoring Works!"). Many others, however, like Jessica and Linda, struggle, become frustrated, and eventually leave the field. What makes the difference? What are the primary needs of beginning special education teachers? What should the mentor's role be? And how can we as fellow special educators influence the retention of our new colleagues?

Given these questions, I conducted focus groups with beginning special education teachers, mentors, and special education administrators. I divided the participants into five focus groups of seven to eight individuals (three groups of first- and second-year special education teachers, one group of mentors of special education teachers, and one group of administrators). The 35 participants represented eight different school districts and two separate facilities for students with disabilities. Thirteen participants worked in urban districts, 16 worked in rural districts, and 6 worked in mixed urban/rural settings. Thirty of the participants were Caucasian, and 5 were African American; 30 participants were female, and 5 were male.

The 20 beginning teachers had attended eight different teacher preparation programs and worked with all categories of disabilities. Eleven of the beginning teachers taught in an itinerant/resource model, and 9 taught in a self-contained model. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

What Do First-Year Special Education Teachers Need?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.