Technology Challenges During Teachers' Induction Years
Part 1: Challenges and Issues
Although new teachers come from a variety of backgrounds, the majority are recent college graduates who are transitioning from a university environment to the world of work and professional life. As a result, many are facing major life changes that have nothing to do with teaching. They are dealing with issues such as moving to a new city or a new apartment, making first-time financial decisions, and adapting to life without the usual support of family and close friends.
Where teaching is concerned, new teachers face a variety of issues and concerns during their first years. There is a great amount to do and learn during the first years, leaving new teachers without a lot of time. They may be afraid to ask for help from veteran teachers or from the principal or administrator who hired them, for fear of seeming unqualified. New teachers, fresh off the heels of their pre-service training and field experiences, are also idealistic, have high standards for themselves, and have high expectations for their job. Many will begin their careers with the belief that teaching is an easy profession and that they have the power to change education. The challenges and stresses of the first year can shatter this unrealistic optimism and result in reality shock. This collapse of high ideals can leave a new teacher feeling disappointed and discouraged.
Where technology is concerned, the challenges faced by new teachers today have changed dramatically in the past few years. An increasing number of teachers entering the workforce today have grown up with many of the technologies that they are being asked to use. Most new teachers have had experiences using technology during their lives, and more and more states are mandating inclusion of technology training in teacher education programs. According to the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, 31 states (62%) require a technology component in their elementary teacher education programs and 28 (56%) states require a technology component in their secondary education programs (Andrews, 1996). While greater than the number of schools requiring a technology component in their teacher education programs only ten years earlier, this is still only a little over half. Definitions of what constitutes a technology component also vary widely among teacher education instructors. In one institution the technology component of the teacher education program may consist only of a one-day lecture on technology use. In another institution an intensive semester-long course may comprise the technology component. Still in other programs, technology use is integrated into methods classes and other courses throughout students' college careers. Despite this variability, however, it is still reasonable to assume that a teacher entering the workforce today has more knowledge of technology than those entering the field ten, or even five years ago.
Nonetheless, there are wide variations in levels of technology preparedness of the induction- year teacher and of the school. To assist readers in determining levels of preparedness (or Technology Quotients -TQs) for both teachers and schools, please refer to the self-assessments in Part 2 and 3.
The possible combinations of teacher and school preparedness are identified by the results of the TQ assessments. The four scenarios are: Teacher prepared and school prepared, teacher prepared and school unprepared, teacher unprepared and school prepared, and teacher unprepared and school unprepared. The following sections will discuss each of these four scenarios in greater detail, addressing the unique challenges faced in each situation and possible steps that can be taken to solve these problems. Readers may wish to complete the TQ assessments first and then refer to the section which corresponds to the matching level of preparedness.
Continue to Part 2: What is Your TQ (Technology Quotient)?