University of Tasmania
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Pre-service teachers' evolving perceptions and responses to teaching : changing career to find meaning and purpose

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posted on 2023-05-28, 09:15 authored by Parks, MC
Commencing pre-service teachers enter initial teacher education programs with diverse preconceptions, understandings, beliefs and values about the teaching profession. A complex mix of personal, professional and contextual factors shape their perceptions about the challenges and rewards associated with teaching. These, in turn, influence their development and preparation for the classroom. Contemporary framings of initial teacher education emphasise the importance of interrupting and disrupting pre-service teachers' preconceptions while helping them to develop more informed perspectives through critical engagement with theory and the practical realities of classroom teaching. Pre-service teachers' motivations and aspirations are essential to this process, as they provide the enthusiasm and momentum for reconceptualising perceptions about themselves, the profession, and the lived experience of classroom practitioners. This study investigated the effects of new theoretical knowledge and practical applications of this knowledge on pre-service teachers' perceived preparedness for classroom teaching. Their changing perceptions were investigated to examine evolving responses to theoretical and practical components of their initial teacher education program, from commencement to completion. This study utilised a modified case study employing a mixed method design involving the collection of both qualitative and quantitative data, collected through questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, classroom observations and participants' journal entries. These data revealed parallels between Tasmanian pre-service teachers and other cohorts represented in the literature. Through the contextual lens of the participants' demographic and preferential profiles, a variety of extrinsic, intrinsic and altruistic motivators were identified within the deeply personal and philosophical drivers for creating change in their own lives and careers. Equally, a change in emphasis, from the pragmatic considerations of the nature of teachers' work to an altruistic view of the contributions to be made through teaching was evident in the narratives of the participants. Additionally, the opportunity to embody and enact lifelong learning was exposed as a particularly motivating aspect of the teaching profession. Significantly, further analysis emphasised that these pre-service teachers approaching transition into the profession had embarked on a process of continual recalibration of themselves in order to align with the priorities of the profession. As such, they described the quality of their initial teacher preparation in relation to the influence that their learning contexts had had on them, and how these had created the impetus for change. For some, this presented a particular level of challenge, highlighting perceptions about disconnections between stakeholders working within initial teacher preparation and those supporting beginning teaching. This study is both unique and significant in that it contributes to the limited body of knowledge about pre-service teachers within the Tasmanian context, emphasising parallels with those found within other Australian contexts. This study also highlights the unique contextual factors shaping initial teacher preparation in Tasmania and captures the discrete evolution of participants' perceptions from commencement to program completion. These insights will be of particular interest to educational researchers, teacher educators, school leaders, and system administrators interested in contributing to the strength and capacity of initial teacher preparation and that of the future Tasmanian and the wider national teaching workforce.


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Copyright 2018 the author

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