Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The current severe teacher shortage in the United States is exacerbated by the numbers of new teachers leaving the profession after only a year in the classroom. What do new teachers expect? How does the reality of their experience match up to their expectations? The purpose of this nine-month qualitative study was to look closely into the expectations and experiences of a small number of beginning teachers. The study focused on four young women's relations with their administrators, other teachers, and their students. The first-year teachers participating in the study included three elementary and one junior high teacher,all of whom taught in a southern Louisiana parish,where the Acadian culture persists and where their families had roots. Data came from observations and written documents as well as from interviews with the teachers; their administrators; other teachers at their schools, including their district-assigned mentors; their students; and members of the communities in which they taught. All four wanted to be "good" teachers and defined "good" in terms of relations with other people - students, colleagues, and administrators. However, they had different ideas about what represented quality in these relationships: degree of reliance on administrators, the nature of the connections they established with their peers, and rapport with their students. The actual social relations that the teachers experienced in the school contexts differed from what saw as ideal, particularly with respect to the students and other teachers. This conflict was compounded by a required assessment each had to pass in order to become a state-certified teacher as well as by a high-stakes assessment of their students' achievement, both of which provided additional definitions of what it meant to be a "good" teacher. Also, the study showed that, in some cases, being a good teacher seemed to conflict with being a good wife or good family member or good friend because of the numbers of hours devoted to preparing lessons each day.
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Hebert, Sandra B., "Expectations and experiences: case studies of four first-year teachers" (2002). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 3113.
Nancy J. Nelson