Perceptions of new teacher candidates in history/social studies at one public university and the critical choices they face
This study collected information from 100 student teachers participating in programs at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst between 2001–2004. The data was gathered by using a combination of surveys, interviews, and notes from seminar discussions.
The information about the experiences of these new teacher candidates in the schools was used to determine the critical decisions that student teachers must make each day. The responses have been separated into five areas or spheres of influence. These five spheres are teacher education, school setting, educational policy, teen culture, and individual experience/personality . Each critical decision or choice made by these new teacher candidates was influenced by one or more of these spheres of influence.
Based on the study's findings, five critical choices have been determined, the consideration of which may help student teachers prepare for their experience.
Five critical choices. (1) How to successfully implement classroom management strategies and teaching methods together in the classroom. (2) How to address “high stakes” tests and other standardized testing concerns. (3) How to build productive working relationships with a cooperating teacher and other school colleagues. (4) How to motivate and relate to adolescents. (5) How to manage the stress and uncertainty of the student teaching experience. Listed below are some additional findings from this study that could impact teacher education. (A) Combining classroom management and lesson planning proved to be crucial to successful lessons and to a successful student teaching experience. (B) Understanding one's lesson planning role as it applies to assessment and preparation for standardized tests has become an important component to successful teaching. (C) Nearly all new teacher candidates stated that establishing relationships with students was the most rewarding aspect of their student teaching experience. (D) The majority of new teacher candidates reported that managing stress (combining teaching, college obligations, and a job search) was one of the most difficult aspects of student teaching.
It is hoped that with additional research, teacher education programs can continue to determine how to best prepare new teacher candidates to make the best decisions when faced with these critical choices.
0533: Secondary education