What factors influence the evolution of beginning teachers' reading programmes?
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Teaching and Learning
What influences the evolution of junior school reading programmes in the classrooms of beginning teachers? Of all the classroom skills required of beginning teachers, those contributing to the implementation of an effective instructional reading programme perhaps represent some of the most complex and sophisticated challenges that will be encountered. Add to this the critical importance to young children of successfully learning to read and the very obvious picture of reading progress revealed by modern assessment practices, and the result is an aspect of teaching that can assume a position of significant focus. This is especially true for teachers working with junior school children. This study investigated the current practices of three junior school teachers during their first two years teaching, how these practices have evolved over time and identifies the factors that have influenced each teacher. Participants' stories were gathered during individual interviews to establish current practices and these were compared with a typical sample of classroom reading instruction that had been captured on video prior to the initial interviews. Each teacher also participated in an individual follow up interview during which they were able to observe the sample video excerpt and comment reflectively upon their practice in the light of their observations. This study found that developing effective junior school reading programmes generated considerable angst for these beginning teachers. While they were able to draw upon preservice preparation when articulating their intentions, the transition from the abstractions of theory to the realities of classroom practice challenged their teaching skills in this fledgling stage of their career. Despite an apparent commitment to guided reading as emphasized in pre-service literacy courses, each participant implemented round robin reading as their initial teaching strategy. In order to implement reading pedagogy as advocated within their pre-service experiences, the emergence of a professional conscience appears to have been critical. The way that teachers' understanding of literacy acquisition consolidates is greatly influenced by their practical classroom experiences and the personal capacity that they bring to the teaching role. The findings of this study support Berliner (1994) and Huberman (1989) because each of the teachers could be placed on a trajectory of teacher development. However stage related views of professional development do not fully reflect the complexity of individuals combined with the uniqueness of their contexts. The broader perspective highlighted in the work of Nias (1989) provided a framework more accommodating of the realities encountered during this study.