Year: 1991

Author: Nimmo, Graham, Smith, David, Thomas, Howard

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The transition from preservice education to classroom teaching is, for many people, a time of significant adjustment. There are professional adjustments to be made as the relatively 'safe' work life of the student is exchanged for the less certain, more vulnerable occupation of teacher. Exam pressures and assignment deadlines are replaced by new pressures of high teaching-contact hours, substantial preparation and marking loads and 'fitting in' to the school and 'the system'. There are personal adjustments to be made, too, especially for those whose first appointment takes them far from what is familiar to centres where initially they 'are unknown and know no one'. Little wonder that beginning teaching has been referred to as a 'career crisis point', approached by most with apprehension and requiring both professional and personal help (Carruthers, 1988:42). The syndrome of 'not knowing' (Corcoran, 1981:78) in its broadest sense needs understanding and addressing.

Despite the acknowledged importance of beginning teaching in the context of the teacher's professional development, there are comparatively few studies relating to the experiences of beginning teachers in Queensland. Shaw's study relating to the adjustment of beginning teachers (Shaw, 1977) yielded a wealth of qualitative as well as quantitative data, but is now somewhat dated, particularly in view of the significant new demands being placed upon teachers as a result of school-based curriculum and assessment development.

The present study aimed to update and extend some of Shaw's research and, in particular, to examine the adjustment, satisfactions, problems and concerns of beginning teachers, and to relate these to their pre-service experiences and present teaching situation.