Reflecting in virtual spaces: Beginning teachers' experiences

Year: 2012

Author: Elsden-Clifton, Jennifer

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


The high attrition rate of beginning teachers within the early years of teaching in Australia (Herrington, Herrington, Kervin and Ferry 2006), and internationally (Ingersoll, 2001), indicate that they face a multitude of challenging experiences. In an effort to support beginning teachers there has been a move towards utilising new technologies or on-line spaces in the professional development process. This paper presents a case study of a program that provided a virtual space for beginning teachers to reflect on their practice in Victoria, Australia. Qualitative data from discussion boards are analysed using a thematic approach to understand the nature of the issues facing beginning teachers and their depth or level of reflection. In particular, it examines: what issues evoked higher levels of reflection; what issues tend to result in reflection remaining at a surface or technical level; and the potential for on-line environments to provide a sustainable space to develop reflection skills for beginning teachers. The purpose of this investigation is to contextualise the current issues facing beginning teachers, inform future virtual professional learning and to better understand the first year teaching experience.