Support Self-Efficacy for Pre-Service and First-Year Teachers

Author: James Rujimora;

COVID-19 will have proximal and distal effects on the education system for years to come. One of the proximal effects of COVID-19 is how the pandemic affected teacher preparation programs, specifically for first-year novice teachers. In a recent study in the International Journal of Education Research Open, the authors discussed the impact of COVID-19 on teacher preparation and provide implications for pre-service and first-year teachers, specifically related to their sense of self-efficacy (i.e., the belief they can complete their responsibilities and tasks) in their student teaching placement and teaching modality.

Impacts on Teacher Self-efficacy

The authors looked at pre-service teachers and their self-efficacy, specifically as it related to their teaching placement. Three groups emerged: 1) those who had no disruption in their teaching placement, 2) those who moved from in-person to virtual teaching, and 3) those who moved from in-person teaching to no teaching at all. Unsurprisingly, pre-service teachers who had no disruption in their teaching placement had higher self-efficacy levels because they were able to gain mastery of their skills through observation, practice, and performance feedback. Despite this, a majority of pre-service teachers, regardless of teaching placement and modality, generally felt less prepared for their first-year teaching.

Strategies to Support Novice Teachers

To address ongoing challenges, teacher preparations could enact the following strategies:

1) seek high-quality student teaching experiences,

2) add teacher placements with some virtual component to practice, and

3) add teacher placements that effectively model technology integration.

The authors of the above-mentioned study also looked at in-service, or first-year, teachers and their self-efficacy. They found that all new teachers could benefit from the following strategies:

1) increased support in classroom management, student engagement, and instructional strategies,

2) opportunities to be observed and mentored for feedback from an experienced teacher, and

3) developing professional development that focuses on coaching and mentoring.

These strategies would greatly increase the self-efficacy of first-year teachers.

Building Continuum of Professional Learning

The authors targeted pre-service and first-year teachers because there has been a growing teacher shortage accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has led to teacher burnout, teacher retention issues, and early retirement. Although the true effects of the pandemic on the teaching workforce are not known yet, it is critical that teacher preparation programs continue supporting high-quality student teaching placements as they enhance teacher self-efficacy, teacher retention, and improve student learning outcomes. 

Moreover, for policymakers, investing and allocating resources and funds into teacher preparation programs and high-quality professional development are two ways to address the current teacher shortage. If teacher preparation programs invest in pre-service and early career teachers, then more students will have access to well-prepared, digitally component, and high-quality teachers.

Share Your Strategies

Pre-service and first-year teachers need additional support, specifically in their novel teaching years. The pandemic contributed to missed professional learning and teaching opportunities. As teacher educators, how have you addressed the developmental, psychosocial, and technological needs of pre-service and first-year teachers? What strategies or tools do you think would benefit pre-service teachers’ teaching placements? Join the CIDDL community and keep the conversation going!