The study seeks to contribute to the emerging understanding of teaching as a career, first year of a teacher’s career as well as challenges and rewards of teaching. The study aims to depict first year and following years experience challenges of a public school teacher in NSW. Data collection involved an interview with a secondary school teacher. Analysing data from the interview as well as previous related studies comparison was done for this study, indicating that first year of teaching is challenging and difficult but rewarding at the same time. Some challenges of teaching were also seen in other years than just the first couple years of teaching, which included discipline problems, classroom management, and lack of parent support for teachers. Some future adoptions for pre-service teachers and more support of school and parents for teachers will help allow better teacher control and support.
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Teaching is all about inspiring, developing, growing, empowering children and young people to make a difference for future generations. There are many stages in a teaching career. The first year of teaching is the career entry stage which is one of discovery, trial and error and learning. The first year teaching experience is one that is always remembers. The second stage of teaching is the Stabilisation stage which is 2-5 years of teaching, in which a teacher gains more self-confidence and firm up on teaching as a career. The Diversification and change stage is 5-15 years of teaching and where a teacher would desire for change. The Stocktaking stage is 12-20 years of teaching, where a teacher may consider a career shift. The Serenity stage is one of about 15-30 years of teaching and may have reduced career ambition, while the stage after conservatism stage is of about 30-40 years of teaching. The final stage of teaching is the disengagement stage of about 35-45 years of teaching and one where the teacher prepares for retirement (Marsh C, 2008, p. 298). The first year of teaching is the most challenging and one where most fatigue is experienced and most learning occurs for future development. However, most teachers experience stressful, fatigue and painful first year (Huberman M, 1993). To become a teacher in Australia requires a minimum degree of Bachelor of Education or a post graduate degree in education also a minimum of another two years of study of an education degree (Groundwater S, 2009). This study will include and look at the interview of one secondary school teacher teaching in a public school as well as other related studies and texts. Some research studies showed that some most common challenges of being a teacher include classroom disciplince, motivating students, maintaining relationship with parents (Dinham and Scott, 2008; Veenman 1984). The aim of the present study was to investigate requirements of teaching, the first year teaching of a teacher and challenges and rewards associated with teaching career through investigation, collecting and analysing data by qualitative methods and research.
This study was based on qualitative method, in which an interview was used to collect the data then the data was analysed, interpreted and compared to previous other related literature. An interview was conducted with a secondary school teacher at a NSW public school. The interview was being conducted as part of an assignment by students completing a teacher education subject at Charles Sturt University. The interviewee was given an information sheet explaining the interview, the purpose and the study. The interviewee was also given a consent form to sign and agree on that they agree to participate in the study and their responses will be used for assignment purpose only and they will remain anonymous. The interviewee was then asked a set of questions (see Appendix) regarding their teaching career, why they choose teaching as a career and the challenging and rewards of teaching. The interviewee preferred to be given time to answer the questions over a period of two days, so was given the questions, the information sheet and the consent form together for completion. Two days later the interviewee returned the answered questions paper. The answered questions were read and analysed, with main points highlighted then the summarised, compared and related to previous literature studies.
Findings and Discussion:
The interviewee was a NSW public school female teacher, teaching for a period of ten years. This stage is sometimes where the teacher desires for challenges and responsibilities, where the teacher also experiments to increase effectiveness of activities and teaching (Marsh C, 2008), as they have had several years of experience at the job they are more professional and have the ability to underpin their career. The teacher interviewee is also a member with the NSW institute of teachers and the Teachers Federation. When interviewed about what study the interviewee required to get into teaching, the interviewee stated that they finished Bachelor of Education Humanities (History/ Geography) and also Bachelor of Gifted Education. In Australia to get into teaching one must complete a four year degree of Bachelor of Education or if after completing a graduate degree it takes about after two years minimum degree of education (Groundwater S, 2009). The overall remarks made were that teaching as a career is a rewarding but also sometimes challenging. The interviewee teacher stated that the most rewarding part of being a teacher was ” seeing the ” aha” moment when they understand something” and making that ” learning a lot of things as teaching is a lifelong learning”. Similarly in other findings teacher satisfaction was based mainly on student achievement, teaching skills and good relationship with students, parents and other teachers. While when asked about challenges in being a teacher it is classroom management and encouraging parents participation in the students learning environment (March C, 2008). There was also a finding that showed that there needs to be more parent support with teachers and their students to help the student develop and learn to their best ability without causing many other issues and struggling (Dinham and Scott, 2008). The teacher interviewee reported that some parents are not supporting teachers which allows students to not take responsibility for their actions and learning. Another difficulty the interviewee stated that was difficult to overcome was ” maintaining students focus to learn”, as well as ” other people and their old-fashioned conservative ways”. While when asked about effective teaching techniques that the interviewee uses to result in intended learning it was stated ” not one size fits all”, so there is a need to differentiate, modify, engage and have fun. Students investigate, take challenges and learn. The interviewee stated their role in the classroom is to teach, report, be part of a team, prepare lessons to drive and allow students to learn and develop their skills. Teachers like to use humour, risk taking, encouraging environments and environments where the student is involved in their learning to help maximise the student learning (Skilbeck M, 2004). Classroom management also includes establishing rules and procedures, teaching of rules and procedures, using signals for communicating with students, and preparing lessons that engage students. The first year of teaching for most teachers is one that findings have shown to be of challenging experience for each teacher, one of fatigue, lack of time, and constancy of requirements (Skilbeck M, 2004). The interviewee in this finding stated that ” the first year of teaching is difficult in terms of content but rewarding”. Indicating that despite the difficulty and challenges at the end of the day teaching is quiet rewarding experience that will improve with more experience in the following years of a teacher in their job. In Davis (2007), Australia Day Speech, indicated the importance of teaching and such a career. He also acknowledged importance of teaching and thanking of teacher and their role in society. When asked about things that the interviewee discovered about themselves and that they would like to improve in their career they said they ” understand how to teach and create a positive environment”, however they also stated that they would like to ” improve in preparing assessment tasks that will cater to different levels of students ability”. This response will support the need for government, school, and parent support for teachers to allow for the best ability for student developing and learning. This response was of a teacher with ten years of experience in their career, which will be that this is not able to be achieved by a teacher in first year experience. Thus better teacher support and encouragement from first years of experience is necessary (Veenam S, 1984). The interviewee also stated that they have a lot of professional development options in the school. The interviewee stated ” it is a very supportive school” that they are working at. Options which include technology, assessments and literacy. Future adaptations and changes need to be made that include better support from parents, schools to support the teacher and their teaching. For first year teachers future research on teachers management of their problems and challenges and how the teacher overcome challenges and what is best management problems as well as better mentoring practices will be beneficial.
The current study explored the concept of teaching, first year teaching, challenges and rewards of teaching. First year teaching was mostly described as most stressful part of a teaching career. After several years of teaching teachers also state there are some challenges as well as rewards associated with their career as a teacher. The current study has raised questions such as how often do teacher remain after completing their first year of teaching? What could be done to further support teachers in their career, especially those in their first year of teaching? However future support from government, colleges, parents and students are needed to better support teachers to allow them to give and teach to their best ability and creating caring and encouraging environments where students are engaged in their learning.
This is a copy of the interview questions that the interviewee answered.
1) Why did you decide to become a teacher? 2) How long have you been teaching? 3) What study did you do to get into teaching? 4) Did you come into teaching straight from school or have you worked in other places before coming into teaching? 5) What do you do in your average day at work? 6) What are the most rewarding parts of being a teacher? 7) What are some of the biggest challenges associated with being a teacher? 8) What career opportunities and pathways have you taken up or do you plan to take up? 9) What is your philosophy of teaching? 10) Are you a member of any professional organisations (Union, professional association, state registration body, etc). What benefits accrue from being part of these organisations? 11) What professional development options are there in your school? What forms of professional development do you find most helpful in your workplace? 12) How would you describe your first year of teaching? 13) In your work what is the most difficult obstacle you have had to overcome? 14) What is the role of the teacher in the classroom? 15) Describe effective teaching techniques that result in intended learning. 16) Describe your teaching style and how you accommodate the different learning styles within your classroom? 17) What classroom management techniques did you use? How effective have they been for you? 18) What kind of learning environment do you try to create? 19) What issues in education are of greatest concern to you? Why? 20) Give me one or two examples of things that you discovered about yourself while teaching that you would like to improve.