One of the fundamental issues that has been documented with regard to problems experience by new and inexperienced teachers is teaching ' vision' and the self - concept that the teacher has of him or herself. This facet has a direct influence on the quality of the teaching as well as on relationship between the teacher and the students.
Many of the fundamental problems that the new teacher may experience are related to the personal vision that the teacher has about what teaching means and what is expected of them. "One of the most powerful predictors of teachers' commitment to teaching is a "sense of efficacy --the teachers' sense that he or she is making a positive difference in the lives of students." (Hammerness, 2003) This sense of efficacy is related to the teacher's 'vision' or view of the nature of the profession and its expectations. Hammerness explains this concept of vision as follows;
vision may provide a means to surface and examine teachers' beliefs, providing teacher educators with a way both to validate and build on teachers' hopes and dreams.... vision may provide an avenue for teacher educators to help new teachers "plumb the depths" of their beliefs and goals examining, challenging, and further articulating their beliefs and assumptions through the sharing of visions."
As stated above, understanding a teacher's vision of his or her task is an important part of understanding and evaluating problem areas in the education of new teachers. Teacher educators often find that many of the problems that new teachers experience are due to the disparity between their hopes and vision and the realities of teaching practice. This means that often new teachers have expectations for themselves and the profession which are out of sync with the realities of the classroom. Young teachers often place unrealizable goals as their immediate aim and this often results in feelings of inadequacy when these goals are not achieved according to the particular "vision "of the teacher.
Part of the solution to this problem lies in assisting the teacher to "...understand and deal with the gap between their hopes and their practice." (Hammerness, 2003)
For many new teachers, "...vision consists of images of what teachers hope could be or might be in their classrooms, their schools, their communities, and in some cases even in society as a whole." (ibid). While vision can act as a motivational force for these teachers, yet it can also make the teacher feel despondent and inadequate if the "vision" is too extreme. Comparing their vision to the current realities of classroom and education sometimes "...leads them to learn that their visions are impossible and that they and their students are powerless to reach them. " ibid The study of vision in new teachers often reveals, that disillusionment may result in far more than deflated emotions and the attitude shift from progressive to conservative documented by researchers. The gap between vision and reality in fact lead some of these teachers to learn that their visions are impossible and that they and their students are incapable of attaining them. (Hammerness, 2003)
Dealing with this important problem usually requires the intervention and guidance of mentors - which will be discussed in more detail in the following section.
Experienced teachers and teacher educators can provide a number of techniques and methods to manage this gap between ideal and the real for new teachers. For example, teacher educators may be able to help teachers to recognize the steps they need to take to reach their vision and to come to terms with the time that may be required. Furthermore, teacher educators may be able to help new teachers to develop visions with an episodic character. Episodic visions are ones in which teachers recognize that their classes will not be ideal every day but rather that those instances may only occur once or twice a semester, after several weeks or even months of careful scaffolding...In so doing, teacher educators may be able to help new teachers prepare themselves to address the balance of ideal practice and ordinary work and, in turn, may be able to help new teachers recognize and celebrate the achievements that they do make (Hammerness, 2003)
As mentioned in the introduction to this paper, modern teaching has become an intensely complex and multidimensional profession, demanding considerable input and expertise from the new teacher. Hargreaves (1997) points out that, teaching is now difficult, complex, demanding, emotional work with teachers taking on many roles previously fulfilled by other social agents such as family and church. Teachers are also faced with increased diversity of student resources and needs in schools, and with hugely expanded curricula. (Martinez, 2004 p 95)
This situation has necessitated that new teachers usually require the input and assistance of teacher mentors. Recently a trend has emerged where many educational bodies and institutions have realized the importance of this problem and instituted formal and scheduled mentoring programs in order to assist the new teacher in dealing with the various problems of teaching that may be encountered.
An instance of this form of formalized mentoring can be found, for example, at the College of Education at the University of Washington. The Dean of College, Patricia Wasley, explains the process of aiding new teachers.
We know from research that mentors need training to be successful. For starters, mentors need to know what new teachers learned while they were here at the university, so that they can build on that knowledge.. A mentor should be able to tell a new teacher: 'OK, I know you learned these two ways to teach reading while you were at the university. Let's work with those methods until you're comfortable using them in the classroom, then I'll show you something new to add." Mentoring that is infused with intellectual content becomes connected to professional development and goes well beyond "showing someone where the erasers are kept."
Building A Teacher's 'Repertoire' Takes Time, Training.)
The importance of the mentoring process as a key solution to many of the problems that new teachers experience is being realized in many research studies of educational praxis. There is a general understanding that many of the problems faced by the novice teacher can be dealt with through directed input for more experienced staff.
Novice teachers and experienced educators should be encouraged to work together to form a positive network within the school and with their colleagues in other schools. This is an essential component for both instructional and motivational reasons. Career ladders and release time incentives can be designed so that veteran teachers can serve as mentors for their newer peers, thus promoting collaboration and establishing rewards for productivity and involvement by both. (Marlow & Inman, 1993)
Mentoring can also be extremely useful for new teachers faced with the complex of problems in teaching the disabled. Working with students who have emotional and behavioral problems for the first time can be an extremely difficult and daunting task for the novice teacher and is certainly an area where mentorship is required. Many new teachers are unprepared for the difficulties of this form of teaching, as the following extract from a teacher's experiences suggests.
Major challenges I encountered were the behavior management issues surrounding working with high school students with serious emotional and behavioral difficulties. During my teacher preparation program internships I had worked with preschool and younger elementary-aged students with disabilities, some of whom had behavior issues, but I felt totally unprepared for the challenges that my high school-aged students with disabilities presented. High school students with serious emotional and behavioral disabilities behaved remarkably different from 4-year-olds with autism and with mental retardation! First of all, the high school students were extremely competent at oral language. Second, some had become masters at confronting teachers with verbally aggressive and noncompliant behaviors. (Mastropieri, 2001, p. 66)
The above quotation illustrates the feeling of inadequacy and frustration that may confront even the most enthusiastic and well prepared new teacher. Mentoring therefore serves to provide a support system to help with both practical as well as emotional issues that might occur.
Another important positive aspect of mentoring is that it can also help in guiding and introducing the new teacher to the often complex and confusing area of modern teaching technologies. This aspect has already been built into new mentoring programs, which provides an invaluable support for the new teacher. The use of new technologies can also have the effect of allowing mentoring to take place rapidly and even over distances through the Internet and online conferencing." New technologies afford the possibility of effective mentoring to be experienced as professional learning relationships that take place within a rich mix of system- and school-wide structures, using well developed materials and practices. " (Martinez, 2004 p 95)
Other areas which can be used to increase the feasibility and…