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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Scott Merkel
Doctor of Education
Department: Educational Leadership, Research and Technology
Title: A Look at the Beginning: Strengths, Weaknesses and the Support Structures for New Teachers from the Perspectives of Elementary School Principals
Dr. Van Cooley, Chair
Dr. Walter Burt
Dr. Paul Blake
Date: Monday, March 2, 2009 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
3208 Sangren Hall
This study examines the perceptions of elementary school principals regarding their beliefs of the strengths and weaknesses of new teachers. The overall research goal is to examine ways that principals evaluate new teachers, their beliefs of strengths and weaknesses related to effective instruction, and the effectiveness of structures established to support new teachers. Participants for this study come from 12 different school districts, four from each of the defined and identified categories of rural, urban, and suburban districts. As a secondary focus, a comparison is examined between each of these categories.
A phenomenological approach is used to guide this qualitative study. Data is collected through an in-depth interview with each participant. Analysis of the data reveals that principals face strict restrictions in their evaluation process of teachers and feel that this minimally impacts instruction. Despite this restriction, principals work through a parallel system of supervision to focus instructional improvement of new teachers. A theme of rapport and student relationships emerges as a strength for new teachers, specifically related to energy and enthusiasm. A difference exists between urban principals and rural and suburban principals. Classroom management is identified as a weakness of new teachers. Mentoring and administrative support emerges as the most effective support structures for new teachers and school-university collaboration, and comprehensive induction programs are least effective.
This study confirms the existence of a separation between the process of evaluation and supervision of teachers. The research also supports the importance of the roles played by building administrators in their support of new teachers and confirms their recognition of this need. This study adds to the current literature by providing the building level administrators’ perspectives on the strengths and weaknesses of new teachers and the effectiveness of current support structures used to aid their transition into the profession.