Beginning teachers of primary mathematics: Recurring themes and emerging issues

Year: 2001

Author: Sparrow, Len, Frid, Sandra

Type of paper: Refereed paper

A large study tracked four primary teachers during their first year of teaching, with a focus on factors that influenced their pedagogical practices and beliefs concerning mathematics as well as the influence of a ‘fellow worker’ for professional development support. The case studies used an interpretive research approach for analysis of data from interviews, observations, reflective journals, and group meetings. This paper focuses on the recurring themes and emerging issues that arose from data analyses, including: classroom ‘control’, syllabus coverage, teaching mixed ability classes, assessing student achievement, curriculum planning, teaching ‘isolation’, and demands of personal lives. Of significance in these findings is that they reflect those in the research literature on beginning teachers, but do so within a previously neglected area – primary mathematics education. They also highlight a mismatch between pre-service education, research, and the realities of classroom practice. Finally, of significance is that this study showed how support in the form of a ‘fellow worker’ is needed to help beginning teachers survive their first year and move towards a less teacher-centred approach to teaching.