Contrary to the norm in developed countries where teachers pursue undergraduate degrees and professional certification before they are employed, many teachers in Belize are employed as high school or junior college graduates and they often teach for several years before entering formal teacher preparation programs. Although there are no formal structures that provide professional support to these teachers in those early years, they undoubtedly develop a repertoire of knowledge, skills and beliefs about teaching and learning from on-the-job-experience and from resources available in their schools. While some of the knowledge they hold may be grounded in educational theories and practices, these teachers are not always aware of that fact. On the other hand, lack of professional training and support may lead to the development and use of inappropriate teaching and classroom management strategies and preconceptions and misconceptions about teaching and learning. This study examines the role that these teachers' early teaching experiences play in the development of a knowledge-base for teaching and their identities as teachers. The study also investigates whether instructors value and use students' prior knowledge in the development and delivery of their courses. I use constructivism as a learning theory (Fosnot, 2005), Beach's (1999) notion of consequential transitions, and Wenger's (1998) theory of identity development as a framework for conducting the investigation. Data were gathered over three months between November 2006 and March 2007 from two one-hour interviews with 14 pre- and in-service student-teachers and four instructors, and from three to four classroom observations in nine courses. Findings are presented following four major themes: early teaching experience and its influences on modality of learning; context as a frame of reference for learning; early learning and its influence on confidence, competence and identity; and instructors' use of students' early experience in the program.
Keywords: Belize, teacher preparation, prior learning, prior beliefs, identity formation, early experience
|School:||The Florida State University|
|School Location:||United States -- Florida|
|Source:||DAI-A 69/12, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Belize, Early experience, Identity, Identity formation, Prior beliefs, Prior learning, Professional knowledge base, Teacher preparation|
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