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Becoming a teacher: Experiences and perceptions of beginning teachers in Vanuatu secondary schools

Entering into the teaching profession as a beginning teacher can be a complex and challenging experience. Research highlights that beginning teachers are more effective when they are supported in their roles as new teachers (Tickle, 1994; Hattie, 2003; Cameron, Lovett, & Berger, 2007; Kearney, 2014) and consideration must be given to the ways in which they are inducted into their formal teaching positions. Much of the literature associated with induction of beginning teachers is framed from a Western world view in which some experiences are prioritised over others. In the context of the Republic of Vanuatu - a small island state in the South West Pacific, the professional support and induction experiences of beginning teachers remain under-researched. This qualitative study sought to address this lack of attention and examined the induction and early career experiences of beginning secondary teachers as they entered into the school context as qualified teachers. The research approach was designed to include semi-structured interviews, reflective journals, and documentation analysis as core data sources. The participants were seven beginning secondary teachers and four secondary school principals. Findings from the research highlighted the importance of understanding what motivated these beginning teachers to enter into the teaching profession and how this impacted on their perceptions of themselves as teachers. Further, contrary to formalised and documented policies, it was also significant that informal pathways to employment into schools, while they were varied, were numerous. Once appointed to a position, the induction experiences of the beginning teachers highlighted high levels of anxiety as they entered their schools and were given charge of their classes. However, as the year progressed the beginning teachers demonstrated agency and resilience, encountering diverse problems, and seeking their own solutions to both pedagogical issues and gaps in their content knowledge. Interestingly, elements of induction that have been identified as important in other educational contexts were not necessarily identified by principals as being relevant to support their beginning teachers, and were thus missing from the induction experiences of the participants. To theorise the research findings, Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) Ecological Systems Theory is drawn on. In seeking to further understand how beginning teachers in this context, Vanuatu, can be supported in their induction to the teaching profession, a contextualised model has emerged from the findings of this study. Understanding the induction experiences of beginning teachers as they become part of the profession of teaching is an important step in developing the necessary conditions which will enable them to be effective in their roles as educators. Developing contextualized induction programmes which can be sustained to enhance teachers’ professional learning and ultimately impact children’s learning positively in the future is an important recommendation. Thus, this research will add to the body of literature regarding the beginning teachers’ learning and development, induction, and the formation of professional teacher identity within the context of Vanuatu.
Type of thesis
Tarosa, G. H. (2020). Becoming a teacher: Experiences and perceptions of beginning teachers in Vanuatu secondary schools (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14009
The University of Waikato
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