Voicing Mathematics Teachers: A Holistic Overview of Their Early Career Challenges

By Keskin, Özge; Çorlu, M. Sencer et al. | Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri, April 2018 | Go to article overview

Voicing Mathematics Teachers: A Holistic Overview of Their Early Career Challenges


Keskin, Özge, Çorlu, M. Sencer, Ayas, Alipaşa, Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri


It is widely believed that student success in school is related to the quality and effectiveness of teaching. In fact, educating teachers for high-quality teaching is the primary goal of all teacher education programs. It is believed that high-quality teaching will ensure student success at school and will consequently help students be successful in later stages of their lives. Although the quality of teaching is strongly related to initial teacher education, the experiences of beginning teachers after their initial teaching training stand as one of the important factors affecting teachers' performance throughout their career (Darling-Hammond, 1999; Hill, Rowan, & Ball, 2005; Wayne & Youngs, 2003). From this perspective, beginning teachers' experiences after their initial education at universities are critical for a successful career.

The literature on challenges that beginning teachers face showed that they had to cope with many difficulties at the same time (Fantilli & McDougall, 2009). Veenman's (1984) international review of perceived problems among beginning teachers comprised findings that included challenges in managing disruptive behavior in the classroom and overall classroom management, motivating students, dealing with individual differences, assessing students' work and relationships with parents. Related to these difficulties, the researcher indicated that a consistency in these problems should be expected across both time and differently structured education systems. Lack of personal and emotional support, obtaining instructional resources and materials, planning and managing instruction were some of other findings when novice teachers' early career challenges were examined (Gordon & Maxey, 2000).

Moreover, similar studies conducted on novice teachers' early career experiences in Turkey revealed results consistent with the studies conducted elsewhere. These studies revealed that classroom management was one of the areas that challenged novice teachers (Akın, Yıldırım, & Goodwin, 2016; Gergin, 2010; Kozikoğlu, 2016; Taneri & Ok, 2014). For example, a comprehensive research that investigated the induction period of 465 novice teachers from randomly selected 8 provinces of Turkey illustrated that the most frequently reported difficulties were heavy workload, low social status and perceived identity, problems in relationships with the school principals and inspectors, and problems in classroom management in that order (Öztürk & Yıldırım, 2013). In another study, it was found that novice teachers were challenged because of insufficient physical structure and facilities of the schools that they work in and classroom management. In addition, it was also highlighted that novice teachers had to cope with a heavy workload (Kozikoğlu, 2016). Studies conducted on the challenges that mathematics teachers face in Turkey were very limited. In addition to the complications that were found in other studies like classroom management or time management, challenges peculiar to a middle school novice mathematics teacher originated from the national curriculum context and its effect on teaching practices (Haser, 2010). Lack of content and pedagogical content knowledge, difficulty in implementing student- centered teaching practices and difficulty in use of alternative teaching methods were found to be challenges the beginning middle school mathematics teaching had to deal with (Yanik, Bağdat, Gelici, & Taştepe, 2016).

Taking all this into account, investigating the differences between expert and novice teachers has been a popular area of inquiry in order to understand novice teachers' practices in depth. For example, in the extensive review of Kagan (1992a), it was stated that novice teachers were much more focused on classroom control than on preparing lesson plans that foster learning. As a matter of fact, compared to experienced and expert teachers, novice teachers were found to be less successful in responding properly to unexpected student responses. …

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