M. Ferrara

University of Nevada Reno (UNITED STATES)
The presentation will provide findings from perception of secondary inservice teachers on what a first-year teacher should know and be able to do to be prepared to be successful in his or her classroom. These insights helped design a co-team-taught course in fall 2017 for preservice social studies teachers and helped lay the framework for future co-teaming and co-teaching initiatives in the College of Education and the school district.

It is estimated that 50% of beginning teachers leave the teaching profession within the first five years (Ingersoll, 2003). When teachers depart, they take with them their knowledge of instructional techniques, students' learning styles, and professional development training (Chuong, 2008). Studies on first year teachers, especially those in inner cities schools, consistently shows a common issue – first-year teachers are not what Deborah Ball calls “a well-started beginner” and adds that first year teachers…“need to be prepared for the work of teaching and skilled in helping all their students learn” (Richardon et al., p. 58). Data collected in the past few years showed that more than 20% of first-year teachers had no student teaching experience at all (Omer, 2010). Another typical issue arises in that first-year teachers are often assigned to challenging classrooms with a large percentage of students of low achievement scores and a high number of IEP’s. What do first-year teachers see as classroom complexities and challenges to their success? The first complexity is gaining an understanding of long-term goals and then how to set up a curriculum to reach these goals. The second issue is how to teach multiple academic levels of students. Overall, the consensus is that the amount of teaching in the classroom is inadequate (Glavis, 2015). The study also found that first-year teachers who were mentored with informal or assigned mentors felt more supported in the areas of general awareness and information or procedures than those first-year teachers who were not mentored.

Data analysis in this study demonstrated that hearing and decoding each teacher’s voice from the most common findings to the most abstract is important in deciding what will be covered and what will be eliminated from a preservice teacher preparation course. Building this model helps preservice teachers frame the curriculum on how to make changes and work collaboratively grounded in sound evidence from the field. The bottom line is that all learn – course instructors, teachers, and most importantly, students. The importance of the findings in this study gleaned from the teacher survey and follow-up interviews was making sure that in-service teachers’ voices drive the next step in this co-teaching initiative. It is essential in a school district-university partnership that focuses on enhancing student learning that curricula and strategies that drive the preservice teacher education program contain relevant connections to what is taking place in the professional development of the partner school district. The study demonstrates a start of something that will grow into a powerful change model not only for social studies but also for other content areas that need to bridge higher education teacher preparation with school level professional development.