Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Dolan, R. and Walsh, B.
Who’s Teaching the Teachers?
European Conference on Educational Research (ECER)
Dublin, Ireland
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields
Recent research in Ireland has revealed that a significant number of new and beginning teachers share a wide range of concerns regarding professional practice. The work of the Teacher Induction Pilot Project (Secondary School Pillar: on-going, Drudy, Killeavy et. al) revealed that teachers experienced significant problems in the initial years of teaching. Concerns were expressed regarding a wide number of issues. The research revealed that new and beginning teachers were disinclined to prepare lesson plans citing lack of time as the key obstacle. The pressure of work in the first year of teaching was made more onerous by their often having to assume responsibilities they felt unqualified or unprepared for, or, which they accepted in the expectation that this would strengthen their "employability". A high proportion of teachers expressed concern regarding the teaching of pupils with learning difficulties or behavioural problems. Generally, teachers reported that they were insufficiently trained for the specific difficulties associated with these arenas. Teachers often felt isolated within the school and unsure of how to negotiate its culture. They expressed reservations and uncertainty about "reading" the staff dynamic and were often uncertain and anxious about dealing with parents. They also reported problems in the area of classroom management, motivation, student evaluation and assessment, accommodating individual student differences, and relationships with colleagues (Veenman 1984, Vonk 1983, Odell 1986, Bullough 1989). While overwhelmingly optimistic, these teachers expressed concerns about aspects of the teaching task that form fundamental elements of most teacher education programmes. This paper examines the experiences of a cohort of Higher Diploma in Education students from one of the constituent colleges of the National University of Ireland. It seeks to establish if the concerns expressed by new and beginning teachers are not, in fact, those experienced by higher diploma students. In doing so, the paper examines whether anomalies exist in teacher education and attempts to identify ways in which research into the experiences of beginning teachers may assist teacher educators to construct ever more appropriate and responsive curricula.