Working with Novice Teachers: Challenges for Professional Development

Jeffrey Barrett, Graham Jones, Edward Mooney, Carol Thornton, JoAnn Cady, Patricia Guinee, Jo Olson

Abstract


This study examined the classroom practice and beliefs of two novice teachers,
Anne and Rachel, during their first year of teaching and during the first year of
their involvement in Project PRIME, a district-wide professional development
project. The research also analysed the challenges faced by the novice teachers and
the professional developer who worked with them. Using accounts of practice
(Simon & Tzur, 1999), the professional developer interviewed and observed the
two novice teachers throughout the school year and established a hypothetical
learning trajectory to inform their professional development program. By the end
of the first year, neither teacher’s classroom practice reflected the reform goals of
PRIME in relation to implementing worthwhile mathematical tasks, questioning or
promoting students’ thinking. However, their practice was observably different
and so were their beliefs about teaching. Anne’s practice was consistent with the
literature’s characterization of a novice teacher while Rachel’s practice was more
aligned with that of a veteran teacher. In spite of the fact that the professional
developer used different kinds of coaching, collaborative teaching and feedback
sessions, the professional development experience was problematic for different
reasons, some of which were related to the different perspectives of the two novice
teachers.

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