Title page for ETD etd-81698-93841

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Stallings, Martha Ann
Author's Email Address cstallin@vt.edu
URN etd-81698-93841
Title Building a Professional Support Program for the Beginning Teacher
Degree Doctor of Education
Department Curriculum and Instruction
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Niles, Jerome A. Committee Chair
Harris, Larry A. Committee Member
Lewis, Mary Ann Committee Member
Niles, Ruth Anne Committee Member
Yardley, Dianne R. Committee Member
  • beginning teachers
  • mentoring
  • professional support community
Date of Defense 1998-09-02
Availability unrestricted
This qualitative study described the development and

implementation of a professional support program for

beginning teachers in a school division for the 1997-98

school year. The community members including mentor

teachers, principals, and central office staff, supported

specific needs in a structured program to assist beginning

teachers to learn how to teach. The study involved 25

beginning teachers with no years of experience who were

paired with mentor teachers from their elementary schools.

The study focused on the experiences and perceptions of the

beginning teachers and mentors in the program building

process. Phase one description includes components of

program planning and development including design,

collaboration, and resources. Identified beginning teacher

needs, professional support community needed to provide

support for the beginning teachers, program contents, and a

timeline of activities, complete the description. The

description of phase two of program delivery includes

specific activities for beginning teacher meetings,

recommendations for school-based activities between

beginning teachers and mentor teachers, mentor teacher

meetings, and connections to school principals.

Methodology included a combination of

questionnaires, participant observation and field notes

from program planning meetings, beginning teachers meetings,

and mentor teacher meetings, research journal, and

collection of documents. Text was created from these

methods looking at larger themes and issues that emerged to

allow for an understanding of beginning teachers and what

is involved in their necessary support.

This study suggests that there are several key

program essentials for providing support for the beginning

teachers. Program essentials include: (1) building

program awareness;(2) establishing goals; (3) determining

beginning teachers' needs; (4) having a broad-based

program participation; (5) preparing participants for their

support roles; (6) identifying benefits to program

participants; and (7) providing a program structure. A

program structure includes: (1) a kick-off of the program

and orientation for beginning teachers; (2) a recommended

school-based activity schedule of times and topics for a

collaborative relationship between beginning teachers and

mentor teachers; (3) beginning teacher meetings held three

times during the year for beginning teachers to meet

together; (4) and mentor teacher meetings for mentor

teachers to meet together. Time is an important issue for

beginning teacher support with time needed to plan and

develop the program and to build trust among program

participants. While mentor teachers find the process of

supporting beginners satisfying, they also appreciate

receiving tangible benefits such as stipends, release time

to work with beginning teachers, and program training.

These rewards provide verification of the school division's

valuing of the enterprise. An ongoing program evaluation

system contributed to program planning decision making and

assessment of program effectiveness.

With a support program designed to meet

individualized needs, beginning teachers feel supported and

appreciated in their first year of teaching. In addition,

a school division gains an understanding of what is needed

to build support and community building for the beginning

teachers and how to assist the mentor teachers as they

support the beginning teachers.

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