A look at the beginning: Strengths, weaknesses, and the support structures for new teachers from the perspectives of elementary school principals

by Merkel, Scott, Ed.D., WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY, 2009, 140 pages; 3354075


This research examined the perceptions of elementary school principals regarding their beliefs of the strengths and weaknesses of new teachers. The overall research goal was 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 came 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 was examined between each of these categories.

A phenomenological approach was used to guide this qualitative study. Data was collected through an in-depth interview with each participant. Analysis of the data revealed that principals face strict restrictions in their evaluation process of teachers and feel that this minimally impacts instruction. Despite this restriction, they work through a parallel system of supervision to focus instructional improvement of new teachers. The theme of rapport and student relationships emerged as a strength for new teachers, specifically related to the energy and enthusiasm. A difference existed between urban principals and rural and suburban principals. Classroom management was identified as a weakness of new teachers. Mentoring and administrative support emerged as the most effective support structures for new teachers and school-university collaboration and comprehensive induction programs were least effective.

This study confirms the existence of a separation between the process of evaluation and supervision of teachers. This study also supports the research of the importance of the role played by building administrators in supporting 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.

AdviserVan Cooley
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsEducational administration; Elementary education; Teacher education
Publication Number3354075

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