The major problems that face new teachers are the need for information that is practical, the gap existing between what they expect and reality, their relationship with students, relationship with parents, classroom management, financial and time pressures.
There are similar problems faced by special and general education teachers although special education teachers who are new face problems that are related to practical skills for development and supervision. New teachers need to be supported emotionally and practically to alleviate these problems. There are induction programs and ongoing mentor relationships and administrative support that help to address these problems. (Windschitl, 2002 pp33-35)
Problems facing new teachers in both general and special education in elementary schools
Time management is one of the problems that face new teachers in both general and special education in elementary schools. In every school, there is a time limit set for a teacher to have covered a certain amount of work depending on the subject he is teaching. At the end of every year, all the subject content is supposed to have been covered. Therefore, this requires the teacher to manage his time well in advance so that he can utilize all the available time to ensure he completes his work. New teachers face problems because they fail to manage their time well due to lack of experience and end up doing very little work before they get used to how time is supposed to be managed from the beginning to the end.
New teachers are not able to select course context from the textbook, syllabus, laboratory manual, or teachers guide. They fail to understand what is supposed to be taught and end up teaching what is not relevant. The new teachers find themselves in difficult situations because they teach and later realize that there is a need for them to cover more work because most of what has been covered is not useful and more work needs to be covered according to the syllabus.
The new teacher requires contacting teachers who have experience on how to select course content from all the relevant textbooks and this may require him to spend more time before he can be conversant with the subject coverage. (Luke, 2000 pp23-26)
New teachers are not competent in the skills of questioning and may not be able to ask students the questions that help them to know whether the students understand what has been taught. The teacher, therefore, continues teaching even if the students are having difficulty in understanding and may not know the areas that need more emphasis. When the students are being taught, they sometimes respond in a manner that shows the teacher that they are not understanding but the problem arises because new teachers are not able to react to the response of children and interpret the meaning of their reaction and therefore the children do not understand what they are taught and fail in their exams.
New teachers take a lot of time before they allow pupils to differ with them. They fail to accept that if they are teaching pupils to think, they have to differ from their teachers. The teachers also fear to perform experiments unless they know what should happen because they fear that they might be challenged if the experiments they are performing bring about results that they are not aware of and the pupils may need an explanation that the teacher may not be sure of.
This put new teachers in a very difficult situation until the moment when they become confident of themselves and accept to face a challenge in their new job so that they can learn more and gain enough experience.
When periods are cut short, new teachers are frustrated because they do not know how to recover the time that is lost and fear that they may not be able to cover the whole syllabus. This is because at the beginning of their teaching they have not learned to be flexible and adjust to changes in their timetable to ensure the entire course work is covered at the required time. When cases of activities besides teaching arise, they are amazed at the time demanded those activities to take place and find it difficult to create time for those activities if they were not put in the timetable before.
New teachers have problems in evaluating people, setting standards, and assigning them grades until when they seek advice from long-serving teachers. They are not able to recognize real understanding in the pupils and evaluating the questions to ensure there is validity and fairness. They have problems in motivating people who do not care about their performance by encouraging them to work hard and put more effort into their work because the people who need motivation and are not motivated end up becoming low performers.
The new teacher may not be trained regarding instructions needed by children with exceptionalities. They do not accept children with disabilities, their classmates bully them and teachers are not able to deliver the services required by them. Regular classroom work is disrupted by the services that need to be offered to pupils with special needs and the teacher ends up having limited access to normal classroom lessons and school activities. (Seixas, 1993 pp11-13)
Documented supports to help teachers effectively respond to such problems
New teachers enter classrooms when they are filled with idealism, passion, and commitment to make difference to the pupils. They embark on a journey isolated from their colleagues and face working conditions that are difficult due to a lack of resources and materials and challenging class assignments. These harsh realities shock them and the passionless system. The teacher’s quality is an important ingredient that improves the achievement of pupils.
There should be an investment in the quality needs of a teacher from the beginning of his teaching career and throughout his professional life. A comprehensive model for developing teachers needs to build and get grounded principles for effective education of teachers and professional development. System-wide norms need to be established and long learning of career. This aims at improving the professional lives of new teachers.
There is a need for induction programs in order to remove incompetent teachers and retain the ones who are talented to help in developing knowledgeable and successful teachers and improve the climate of learning and teaching and ensure a community is built between veteran and new teachers. Induction is supposed to be seen as a developmental process where support for two to three years is needed for new teachers to move from orientation and basic survival skills and focus on instructional effectiveness and address system wide issues such as assessment of students, the leadership of teachers, school improvement and curriculum reform. (Seixas, 1993 pp14-16)
School administrators need an understanding of how new teachers should be oriented, create working conditions that are supportive, meet professional needs effectively and tell the entire staff of the importance of assisting and guiding the new teachers. The principal needs training for alerting concerns and needs of new teachers. High-quality mentoring needs to be provided and should be backed by funding that is adequate. The evaluation of the inductee should be linked to standards of evaluating him.
New teachers should be helped to keep up with their own spirit and bolster the learning of their students. They need to have access to strategies and materials to support the development of instructional practices which are sound.
Their learning should be supported over time and this should be done when new teachers are in their own classroom. An adviser can help new teachers to employ observation, role-playing, coaching, assessment, and lesson modeling so that the main focus of the program can be on how the teacher can learn how to support students in their learning. The strategies assist new teachers on how to align with classroom practices that are sound. Formative assessment is a tool used by advisers in gauging understanding of new teachers and the same tool is used by new teachers to help students to become learners who are self-directed. (Altman, 1997 pp23-28)
New teachers need instructional support because they deserve and need administrators to teach the new teacher and help him gain experience quickly. These new teachers need to know how to deal with kids who challenge them while they are teaching. The fundamental guidelines for new teachers should be based on activities where they should speak actively, become expressive, enthusiastic speakers and capture the attention of students through humor, movement, and facial expression. New teachers should teach actively by engaging pupils, encouraging comments, and participating in the classroom. This aspect is important in establishing communication modes and reciprocity between teachers and students.
There should be a portfolio process supported by the interaction between new teachers and advisors during seminars with sanctioned time available to be used for portfolio development. New teachers are helped by advisors to select items for the portfolio such as lesson plans, documented observations, assessments, and students’ work. The selected items are accompanied by written explanations regarding how they can demonstrate the professional growth of a new teacher and how the students can grow in relation to their professional goals. (Orfield, 1986 pp13-18)
Education programs for teachers are graduating candidates in the category of failing teachers and those who run away from their profession at the beginning of their careers. This problem may have multiple causes and must be curtailed before the instructional damage continues. This problem is addressed by providing new teachers with increased time for teaching practice in the field to have a guarantee that teachers are well prepared to meet diverse students’ needs when they graduate and be admitted to an education program for teachers. This solution may be complex and requires effort and time so that the teacher can be able to link the success of students that will benefit students and teachers for decades. (Windschitl, 2002 pp36-37)
Luke A. (2000): Redesigning Teacher Education: Teaching education, pp. 23-26.
Windschitl W. (2002): An analysis of conceptual, pedagogical, cultural and political challenges facing teachers: Review of Educational Research, pp. 33-37.
Seixas P. (1993): the community of inquiry as a basis for knowledge and learning: American educational research journal, pp. 11-16.
Altman J. (1997): Information technology and teacher preparation: Peabody Journal of Education, pp. 23-28.
Orfield G. (1986): Hispanic Education; Challenges, Research and Policies: American Journal of Education, pp. 13-18.