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The Journey of Novice Teachers: Perceptions of Interns from a Teacher Training Program for Academics
Assisting Struggling Teachers Effectively
Section: Teacher Education
The Journey of Novice Teachers: Perceptions of Interns from a Teacher Training Program for Academics
Author: Tsafi Timor
Summer 2017   |   Type: Abstract

Source: Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, Vol. 9, No. 2, 5-28

 

The literature (Harari, Adler, & Shechter, 2007) discusses at length the difficulties that teachers experience when they start teaching and the number of people leaving the profession due to those difficulties (Arviv-Elyashiv & Zimmerman, 2013). This article discusses the characteristics of the journey for novice teachers from the Teacher Training Programs for Academics as experienced by them during their first year of teaching. The study focused on several aspects of this journey: experiences of success and failure, factors that promote and inhibit success during their internship, the extent to which novice teachers identify with the comparison immigrants in a new culture (Zabar Ben-Yehoshua, 2001), and changes the teachers experienced throughout the year.

The research population was a group of novice teachers (interns) who participated in a mandatory course at a College of Education in the center of Israel, which provided a support group in handling the difficulties of first-year teaching. The participants had to hand in a narrative (“journey log”), which described their experiences during their first year of teaching and was subject to content analysis (Inductive Category Development) (Mayring, 2000). For some of the research questions, the researcher used the mixed approach.

The findings revealed that the overall picture of the moments of failure exposed feelings of hurt and pain on a personal level and not only a professional level. The depth of the feelings indicates the novice teachers’ deep desire to succeed, in terms of “the greater the expectations, the greater the disappointment.” The descriptions of success reveal the following common attributes: their caring nature, their desire to give endlessly, and their willingness to invest efforts in all facets of teaching. Among the main factors promoting success were the teachers’ desire to fulfil a personal dream and a supportive school climate. Among the main factors inhibiting success was the disparity between what they had learned during their training and school reality as well as their reluctance to ask for help. Most of the teachers felt solidarity with the immigrant feelings that Zabar Ben-Yehoshu (2001) depicted in her article. The leading pattern in the examination of the journey throughout the year corresponded to the pattern in the article: excitement, crisis, and acceptance.

The internship component of teacher training programs in Israel started in 2000 as a direct result of the trend in colleges to offer more rigorous programs (Ministry of Education, 1999). While turning the teacher training program into a four-year course, the fourth year became an internship. The internship component in a teacher training program facilitates the student teacher in the transformation from being a student to becoming a teacher in the educational system (Nasser-Abu Alhija, Fresco, & Reichenberg, 2011) with an understanding that becoming a teacher is more difficult than anything they have ever experienced before, and requires deliberate practical training and guidance (Ingersoll, 2007a). A study by Nasser-Abu Alhija and her colleagues (2011) revealed that novice teachers find the internship opportunity satisfactory. The Induction Phase nowadays consists of the initial internship year plus two years of subsequent training.

What underpins the recognition of the need for an induction phase as a distinct stage in a teacher’s career is an understanding of this process and its unique characteristics (Silberstrom, 2013). In the internship program for teachers in Israel, the new teachers (interns) work on a full salary under the inspection of a mentor teacher, a veteran colleague from the school with teaching experience who plays a vital role in accompanying the novice teachers. The mentor teacher provides supportive feedback and encouragement, both on the professional and emotional level (Lazovsky, Reichenberg, & Zeiger, 2002). The mentor teacher is as an educational colleague, an agent of change, and a role model (Runyan, 1999). The novice teachers also take part in a mandatory course for two weekly hours throughout the internship year. The objective of the internship year is to let the novice teachers express themselves, and to provide group and personal support regarding any issues of difficulty during that year.

The study emphasizes the uniqueness of teachers who graduate from the career-changing track with a sense of clarified mission, a strong desire to succeed, along with a more realistic and sometimes less emotional perspective. The study highlights the unique needs of the novice teachers, many of whom have experienced the job market before choosing career retraining. Although they acknowledge their abilities, they have difficulties adjusting rapidly to the school demand for immediate output, and encounter many difficulties in their first year of teaching. Mapping the success-promoting and success-hindering factors that came up in this study can help meet these unique needs.

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