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Title:Using portraiture to understand going into teaching in K-8 after another career
Author(s):Brown, Ronda
Director of Research:Witz, Klaus
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Witz, Klaus
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Parsons, Marilyn A.; Hunter, Richard C.
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
career switchers
Abstract:The purpose of this study was to determine what motivated nontraditional students to go into teaching and reveal why they were sure, by their second year of experience, that they would stay in teaching. This study used the “participant as ally-essentialist approach” (Witz, 2007) to understand the participants’ stories. The primary data source was focus groups and one to three 1-on-1 in-depth follow-up interviews (90 minutes for each interview) with 9 participants who were second-year nontraditional elementary or middle schoolteachers. Each participant entered the profession by the same program designed for nontraditional students who may have had previous work experience, possibly even another degree or college credits; all of the participants came from the same site. Their ages ranged between 22 and 45 years when they started in the teacher education program. The researchers developed eight portraits of participants who talked about their career progression. These portraits yielded three major findings of this study. First, the participants revealed their commitment to teaching, generally planning to stay in the career until they retired. Their commitment was further demonstrated in that all but 2 wanted to get their master’s degrees. In fact, one has already completed hers, and two others had begun their degree programs. Another major aspect in the portraits was that many of the participants used their earlier life experience and maturity in their classrooms. Many also had content-related skills that they used to manage their classrooms and deliver their subject areas to their students. Six of the participants had children. They were familiar with children and the school setting. The last major finding revealed that a significant proportion of teachers found the profession by accident. They were happy where they were and were not seeking other careers. The results of this study suggest that, with increasing numbers of nontraditional students, teacher education programs need to take into account the assignments, delivery methods, and class content. When it is time to place teachers in schools for internships and student teaching, the placement coordinator should be aware of their status. In addition, school districts should be aware that this population is committed to adding value to the school as soon as they arrive.
Issue Date:2012-05-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Ronda Brown
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-05-22
Date Deposited:2012-05

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