Learning for Teaching: Preservice Teachers’ Perceptions of their Preparedness to Teach in the Middle School Context
The middle schooling movement in Australia has gained momentum in the past ten to fifteen years (Pendergast & Bahr, 2005) with much of the literature recognising that preservice teachers need to graduate with theoretical and pedagogical knowledge to engage middle years students (Education Queensland, 2004). This qualitative study investigated the responses of seven preservice teachers, representing 32% of the total cohort, towards the completion of a four-year Bachelor of Education primary degree that included a middle years pathway (i.e., electives). The aim of this study was to investigate final years’ perceptions of their confidence and preparedness to teach in the middle-school context as a result of their university learning. Data were gathered from open-ended one-to-one interviews of approximately 45 minutes duration. Results indicated the need for increased school-based units, the importance of the pedagogical approaches employed by the lecturer and the preference for further linkages between middle school theories and middle school teaching practices. Specific areas that assisted their learning included knowledge about middle years teaching philosophy, the arts, engaging in teaching strategies, and knowing how to reflect on teaching in the middle years. However, they claimed they did not feel as confidence in classroom management and teaching literacy and numeracy in the middle years. Tertiary educators need to embed high-impact teaching strategies to develop middle year teaching practices in line with current literature. Furthermore, teacher education institutions need to evaluate and re-shape their courses to ensure preservice teachers are provided with real-world experiences related to the profession and target specific needs as determined by such evaluations.
Keywords: Preservice Teacher, Teacher Preparation, Middle Schooling
Dr. Suzanne Hudson
Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Caboolture campus, Queensland University of Technology