Perceptions of out-of-field teachers of the sustainabilty of urban teacher quality support systems
Educational reform movements set ambitious goals for student learning. Numerous factors contribute to students achieving these goals. It has been widely understood that �the increasing emphasis on quality of teaching and learning has placed new demands on staff development, and the search for models and methodologies which are promising for professional development of academic staff has become an important agenda in itself� (Ho, A.,2001 P.35). Effective changes in practice require a great deal of learning on the part of teachers and an even greater amount of support and guidance from administrators (Borko, 2004, Putnam & Borko, 2000). Problematic practices in hiring and staffing make it difficult, albeit impossible, to provide an equal distribution of qualified teachers in high poverty districts and schools serving minorities. Contributing to the problem of teacher inequality and underqualified teachers is the phenomenon of out-of-field teaching- a term in reference to certified or qualified teachers who were teaching a subject in which they had no formal qualification or training (Hobbs, 2013). These teachers often receive little training and support and therefore find it difficult to experience success. Through qualitative interviewing this study seeks to explore the perceptions of out-of-field teachers and mentors and understand how they make meaning of their experiences. Five themes emerged from the study: ineffective training and professional development, desire for success, buy in, time, and support. Teachers and mentors want professional development that is meaningful to the work they do in the classroom. Educators, especially those teaching out-of-field, need training that is intense, focused and content oriented. Buy in is vital to any professional training. Out-of-field teachers want to be included in the decision-making as to what professional development they receive. From this study, it was learned that it is a teacher�s priority to make sure they are teaching content standards from day-to-day. The participants identified a lack of support as an inhibitor to that implementation. This concern for the lack of professional support among the participants bares out much of the research (Borko, 2014. Hobbs, 2015, Darling-Hammond, 2002, Ingersoll, 1999). Out-of-field teachers are highly committed to the students and communities they serve. With focused and intense training, close monitoring, time to observe skilled content area teachers, and strong support from building and district administrators, out-of-field teachers can become effective educators when teaching outside their area of expertise.
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