|New Qualified Teachers: Impact On/Interaction with the System (Trinidad & Tobago) (CIE, 2000, 29 p.)|
Based on their assessment of the performance of the newly qualified teachers in their schools, principals had both positive and negative perceptions of the Teachers' College programme. Most of the principals had very positive comments about the attitude of the newly qualified teachers to their work. They found them to be enthusiastic, energetic, hard working, committed, willing to go the extra mile, as one principal put it:
The newly qualified teachers seem to want to put everything into what they do. That is my view of the newly qualified teacher. Fresh out of college they have all the ideas, they want to get things done. They want to get a lot of things done overnight...
Another had very complimentary remarks about the two newly trained teachers at his school:
Mr. R.... was sent here in September so he has been with us just a few weeks from September to November and he has demonstrated competence in all areas. He is enthusiastic, bright, he is dynamic and I am very satisfied with the work he is doing. The other newly trained teacher, she graduated from Teachers' College in 1998 and therefore she has been teaching with us for more than a year. I am very impressed. I am particularly impressed with the way she goes about her duties, the relationship she has with the children and generally her teaching skills. In fact I look at her as one of the bright stars in the teaching profession.
However, two of the principals in the focus group, while they agreed that the majority of the newly qualified teachers were positive in their approach, cited two exceptions to this rule. Both teachers had taught in the secondary school prior to their training and were unhappy with their placement at a primary school. Their dissatisfaction was seen in their lack of enthusiasm and even frequent absenteeism in one case.
Apart from their attitude to work the principals commented favourably on the newly qualified teachers' attitude to and relationship with the children in their class:
She is a good teacher. She has that kind of attitude. She cares about the children under her and to me that is one of the most important things. You could see the caring about every child. Every child is important in her class.
In terms of teaching skills, the principals found that the newly qualified teachers were not as well prepared as they expected. While the new teachers had the potential to be good teachers they had some problems, which, in the principals' view, pointed to the need for the Teachers' College to pay more attention to this area:
I think looking at teachers who have come out of college within the past couple of years I would say methodology at college needs to be done more, in the areas of maths and numeracy and literacy. I have detected a slant in that area where teachers need a little more of that. They come to you, I wouldn't say without any, but without sufficient, as it were, methodologies...
The principals felt that the emphasis in the Teachers' College programme was on the acquisition of content knowledge to the detriment of methodology. One principal said:
I always feel that a Teachers' College should be a place where people will learn how to teach. The methodology, that is important. I have discerned a marked difference between the work that is done at Teachers' College and the work that is done by the curriculum facilitators as they come to the school. And therefore I say there needs to be a greater concentration on methodology, how to teach the particular subjects.
Another said that teachers come to the primary school from Teachers' College lacking basic teaching methodologies and felt that this showed that something is not right with the teacher training.
Yet despite the flaws, they recognise in the newly qualified teachers the positive impact of what they have learnt in the Teachers' College with respect to curriculum delivery:
What I have also found with some of the new teachers on the positive side there is a tendency to use a lot of concrete ideas. I have seen one or two years ago in the infant department, she used a lot of concrete material. This is a positive aspect of teachers coming out of college.
Another principal felt that the newly qualified teachers came out with an understanding of the new approaches to the teaching of mathematics and language. She also felt that based on their teaching practice experience they continued to use charts and manipulatives to make their lessons exciting.
Another principal noted a change in the institution because of the influence of a newly trained teacher who was implementing some of the new methods that he had learnt:
I have found that his delivery methods are really different, and I mean in a positive way. When we were trying to implement the new language arts syllabus he was very helpful because he had been exposed to it and there was a change in the institution because of his methods. We were able to change those big heavy benches and have a setting that incorporated a kind of group work. He was instrumental in getting the other teachers to do it as well.
This was not the experience of all principals however. Another principal lamented the fact that the newly qualified teachers did not maintain the kind of teaching that they displayed on teaching practice:
What you see when teachers come to teaching practice and what you see when you come out of college is [sic] two different things. At college they will go out of their way a hundred miles to get their charts and everything necessary to gain that extra mark. When they come out of college you don't see that same kind of enthusiasm in terms of their teaching, in terms of their preparation and in terms of their delivery.
One of the reasons put forward to account for this was the difference between what the newly qualified teachers learn at College and the reality of the classroom situation:
At times though some of the things, applying some of the psychology and some of the methods they get for classroom control, the things they get from training college, it [sic] is not applicable to our situation lots of times...I get the impression talking to the newly trained teachers that what they learn in college and what they come here and find are entirely different.
Another reason put forward for newly qualified teachers not performing as they did on teaching practice was the fact that most schools were strapped for funds and could not provide the necessary resources for the teachers to put into practice what they had learnt in the Teachers' College. As a result, teachers got frustrated and fell back.
Principals felt that as a general rule the newly qualified teachers had the requisite content knowledge to deliver the syllabus. The only deficiencies noted were in the core areas of mathematics and language:
In the two teachers in question who have just come out of teachers' college I would say I have not found any deficiencies except in the case of the mathematics that the teacher mentioned to me. And I would not call that a deficiency. But in teachers previous to these teachers I have found that their own language sometimes indicated that we may have a population of young people who are leaving school and eventually Teachers' College with everything not strongly in place. Like for example concord and sometimes spelling and sometimes the agreement of subject and verb.
While the sample of principals was small and their views of the Teachers' College programme were based by and large on the performance of the individual teachers who came to their school, there was consensus on some issues. They noted some positive outcomes of the training experience, such as a positive attitude to work, a good relationship with the children and some use of new methods. However the general feeling was that not enough attention was being paid to methodology and that too much time was spent on content knowledge. They felt that this should not be so, and that the function of a Teachers' College was to teach students how to teach.