New teachers face a many problems at the beginning of their careers, especially during the first year of teaching. These problems are associated with different factors, such as an increased demand for teaching standards and accountability, diverse student needs, including those with special needs, and lack of training and mentoring before and throughout their work. This essay analyses different factors that influence work experience of the beginning teachers and presents evidence of new teachers have to face both psychological and instructional challenges and of the need for appropriate support to help them address these problems.
From the beginning of teachers’ career, the major difficulties are caused by the lack of experience. During the first year, new teachers are subjected to a greater amount of pressure and stress, which may lead to job dissatisfaction. Studies on the subject matter report that about 9% of new teachers resign from job within the first year, and 20% leave within three years (Romano, & Gibson, 2006). Moreover, nearly 50% leave before completing six years of teaching (Sarwar, Aslam, & Rasheed, 2012). In order to decrease the quit rates, it is vital to understand the causes of teachers’ job dissatisfaction that results from challenges that new teachers face and develop measures to support them throughout the first years and maintain to the job. In general, new teachers who do not feel successful at their work and whose educational institutions do not provide sufficient support, are less likely to remain in position (Romano, & Gibson, 2006).
Main problems facing new teachers may significantly differ from person to person. This difference results from both individual characteristics of teachers and programs in which they are working (Myers, Dyer, & Washburn, 2005). However, it is possible to outline and classify the most significant problems that are common to the majority of new teachers. The categories of these problems include the following:
1. External policy. The policy governs all the main processes in the school or region. External policy is a delicate factor since the teacher has no control over it (Romano, & Gibson, 2006). The organizational structure of the educational institution may pose serious obstacles for new teachers as they are often expected to perform almost the same work as their more experienced peers. Pataniczek and Isaacson state, “If responsibilities of new teachers differ at all, the difference is that beginners usually are left with the most unpleasant tasks, the largest or most difficult classes, or the least desirable extracurricular assignments” (as cited in Weinstein, 1988).
2. Teaching students with special needs. Students with special needs require additional attention, as well as more special training.
3. Classroom management. New teachers are imposed of responsibilities to manage classroom activities, monitor students’ behavior, maintain discipline, and employ methods in order to encourage participation in different activities during lessons (Romano, & Gibson, 2006). The issue of exercising discipline is a significant problem for new teachers, which can be partly explained by “different patterns in the thinking or decision processes of beginning and experienced teachers” (Veenman, 1984).
4. Personal Issues. Teaching experience greatly depends on personal concerns, attitudes, job expectation, accomplishments and perceived success (Romano, & Gibson, 2006). Fohrbrodt, Cloetta, and Dann also consider such personal reasons as “inappropriate career choice, improper attitudes, unsuitable personality characteristics” to be serious problems for new teachers (as cited in Weinstein, 1988).
5. Content and Pedagogy. Pedagogical and instructional issues are associated with having access to a particular knowledge area and being able to communicate it effectively to a learners (Romano, & Gibson, 2006). Corcoran assumes that the issue of the lack of expertise and experience involves by the urge display a certain extent of competency and confidence, since “to admit to not knowing is to risk vulnerability; to pretend to know is to risk error” (as cited in Weinstein, 1988). This problem can be explained by the failure of new teachers to transfer concepts acquired during their education in the practical teaching contexts.
6. Parents. One of the problems may arise from cases that involve the parents of the students.
7. Teacher Evaluation. Many new teachers are concerned with the practices of required or spontaneous assessment of their performance as educators, which are associated with increasing stress (Romano, & Gibson, 2006). It is worth mentioning that new teachers express a desire for mentoring from a part of senior members of school staff, so that they can receive immediate feedback on their work and suggestions on the ways to improve performance. New teachers expect the beneficial feedback as long as it is objective in nature. The problem of excessively strict evaluation process may be complicated by ambiguous job requirements and job overload. It is generally believed that new teachers tend to show better performance than the older ones due to being more energetic. However, some educational institutions require employing more skilled professionals. Sarwar, Aslam, and Rasheed (2012) indicate that 90% of new teachers believe that experience is more valuable factor that contributes to the teacher’s success.
8. Teachers’ Training. Most new teachers refer to a lack of proper training. Due to deficiency of practical skills in educational contexts, new teachers feel incapable of properly motivating students, addressing individual needs, and assessing students’ performance. In addition, new teachers often experience negligence by senior faculty members and lack of their support (Sarwar, Aslam, & Rasheed, 2012).
In retaliation to increasing awareness of problems facing new teachers, many educationalists have discussed the need for special support programs aimed at helping new teachers during their initial years. Romano and Gibson (2006) argue that effective support for new teachers should deal with their developmental needs and should be aligned with understanding of new teachers’ problems in the classrooms and their concerns about the educational institution in general. In addition, these issues should be studied over time as new teachers will change their perceptions during the year.
As state above, new teachers express desires for better addressing resources and knowledge during preparation programs. In order to improve this process, educators should implement changes in preservice education and teacher development programs after entering the teacher position. The utmost effectiveness can be achieved providing that programs are connected and coordinated by educational institution, state education employees, and teacher organizations (Myers, Dyer, & Washburn, 2005).
Schlechty and Whitford (1989) believe that the most practical method to deal with the problem of designing and implementing programs for new teachers is to establish schools specifically aimed at addressing the common challenges faced by beginning teachers. Wey (1951) also proposes a supplementary approach that might be applied to the curriculum of these special schools. This approach involves implementing programs of laboratory experiences before teachers begin working so that they may be able to observe and interact with students, the educational institution, and the community.
New teachers face a many problems during the first years of work. These problems, although varying from teacher to teacher, most commonly include the lack of training or the deficit of training programs in addressing the practical aspects of teacher’s work. Teachers are also concerned of the problems related to the organizational structure, strict evaluation of their performance, work overload, ambiguous job requirements. Some new teachers refer to lack of training regarding managing classroom activities, monitoring students’ behavior, maintaining discipline, encouraging participation, and working with the students with special needs.
Addressing these problems facing new teachers involve teacher support programs that help eliminating many of the obstacles that result in high resigning rates of new teachers. These support programs include preservice education, special schools aimed at addressing the common challenges faced by beginning teachers, implementing programs of laboratory experiences, and improving supervision for new teachers during their initial years in educational institutions.