Challenges of developing teacher competence: A qualitative study on early career teachers

Year: 2021

Author: Yan, Xiaojing

Type of paper: Individual Paper

This research focuses on early career teachers’ challenges of competence improvement during their initial teaching period. Teacher competence is related to high-quality teachers and teaching, which involves specifying competencies thought to be associated with effective teaching and development of teachers. These are standards-based views of teachers’ development where teachers strive to demonstrate particular skills specified in a nationally agreed standard. The research explores teacher competence for early career teachers (ECTs) in China and what are ECTs’  challenges to obtain those competences. Qualitative method is conducted in the research. There are two phases for data collection. Firstly, documents collection includes three laws and 55 policies in China. Secondly, interview data consists of nine early career teachers, two their mentors and two administrators at the Riverside High School in Henan province, China. The narrative analysis was employed for exploring the early career teacher competence at Chinese polices level and their challenges of competence improvement. In findings, four key competences levels and 11 competence terms are constructed for early career teachers from documents analysis. They are moral competence (ideology and politics, professional ethics ), cognitive competence (health and well-being,  intellectual ability), professional competence (education knowledge, subject knowledge, professional skills, education and research, coordination between knowledge and practice) and developmental competence (application of information technology, life-long learning). From interview data, ECTs’ difficulties include unclearness of moral competence, unfamiliarity of cognitive competence, unreadiness of professional competence and uncertainty of developmental competence. In the future, the teacher competence framework will help schools and teachers to make professional development plans for their life-long learning. Especially, during some particular periods, such as the COVID-19 phase, early career teachers experienced a more complex teaching time. The on-line teaching and interaction with students are vital competence for teachers to grasp and strengthen.