Rigorous academic state standards, high stakes testing, school district policies, and a shortage of confidence add to the challenges that a first-year teacher experiences in the classroom. Recent graduates of teacher training programs are certified content experts, as validated by their university diploma. But with minimal experience, they may not be experts in the pedagogy of teaching. First-year teachers might also lack the necessary organizational knowledge to navigate the challenges of teaching or struggle to assimilate into the culture of a school and community.
Pre-service training programs are designed to meet and abide by state and national standards and guidelines. However, considerable variation exists between programs (Wasonga, Wanzare, and Dawo, 2015). These variations ultimately result in differing competency and ability levels
Pre-service Teacher Training
Pre-service training programs are designed to meet and abide by state and national standards and guidelines. However, considerable variation exists between programs (Wasonga, Wanzare, and Dawo, 2015). These variations ultimately result in differing competency and ability levels. In order to assist novice teachers in the transition, nearly all school districts nationwide implement some form of a teacher induction program.
Teacher Induction Programs
An induction program, also referred to as a mentoring program, allows a first-year teacher to work with an experienced teacher to improve their pedagogical approaches. Induction programs also assist with the new teacher’s ability to cope with work overload, stress, and lack of support from superiors (Dias-Lacy & Guirguis, 2017). Most state education departments require some form of program in order for a novice teacher to acquire the next level of teaching credential. What if additional supports could be offered to new teachers, beyond the district-provided induction program, by the institution that offers the teacher training program?
A New Addition to Teacher Induction Programs
Edinboro University identified a need for continued communication with pre-service teachers beyond school walls, mentor teachers, and administrative supervision. Recognizing the value of additional support for recent graduates, Edinboro University launched the 5th Year Seminar.
Edinboro University’s 5th Year Seminar
A recognized leader in teacher preparation for more than 160 years, Edinboro University acknowledges the benefits of supporting graduates as they transition from college student to professional educator. The 5th Year Seminar, which congregates novice and early career teachers, University School of Education faculty, school district administrators and other professional educators, is an addition to induction and mentoring programs provided by school districts. The free seminar provides novice teachers with an opportunity to participate in a community of learners without the pressures of evaluation. Meetings take place three times per academic year and are open to new teachers regardless of the institution they attended. The agenda for each meeting is developed based upon requests from the novice teachers regarding their own first-year needs and challenges.
Lambson (2010) recognizes the value of learning in a community and identifies learning as a “special kind of social practice where the learner develops ways of acting and problem solving rather than a discrete set of knowledge structures that can be taken from one context and used in another.” Lambson also elaborates on the value of a community of learners, “What a learner learns through participating with others in a community of practice is actually how to do practices.” Edinboro University has developed the 5th Year Seminar to promote a community of learners among novice and early career teachers in a setting free from their home school district distractions or pressures. Edinboro believes this link between University and Teacher will not only benefit the novice and early career teachers, but ultimately increase student achievement.
Dias-Lacy, S. L. and Guirguis, R. V. (2017). Challenges for new teachers and ways of coping with them. Journal of Education and Learning, 6 (3).
Wasonga, C. O., Wanzare, Z. O., and Dawo, J. I. (2015). Mentoring beginning teachers: Bridging the Gap between pre-service training and in-practice results. Journal of International Education and Leadership, 5 (2).
Lambson, D. (2010). Novice teachers learning through participation in a teacher study group. Teaching and Teacher Education: An International Journal of Research and Studies, 26 (8).