Bridging the Gap: When Mid-career Teachers Transition from Traditional to Multiage Contexts: Lessons from the Field
The purpose of this study was to describe and analyze from a cultural perspective the complex interaction of individual, organizational, and contextual influences on the development of mid-career teachers’ professional identity as they transitioned from traditional to multiage contexts. The following questions were answered: What do teachers perceive as their greatest challenges and opportunities in making the transition to a multiage classroom? Do these perceptions change over time? Do the teachers’ beliefs and perceptions match their actions and practices? What supports were put in place for teachers making the transition from traditional contexts to multiage learning environments? Were these supports effective? Ten key findings clustered in three areas emerged from this study: multilevel classrooms were: 1) beneficial to the teacher when they had students for more than the traditional academic year; multilevel classrooms allowed for the development of independent thinkers and learners; 2) students in the multilevel classroom exhibited positive interactions, nurturance and spirit of cooperation, and 3) team teaching provided an opportunity to learn and share new skills, and provided both pedagogical and affective support for the educators involved. Challenges included: 1) meeting the needs of a more diverse group of learners; 2) piloting change in a culture and climate that was largely against the change and/or did not fully understand the change, and 3) the instance of negative peer role models within the multiage class composition. Foremost, the findings of this study indicated that the participants initially drew from their experience as graded teachers to make sense of the multilevel philosophy, in essence filtering multilevel philosophy through the lens of gradedness. In doing so each participant created a ‘false understanding’ of the multilevel philosophy. It was not until they began employing multilevel strategies within their classrooms and saw the resultant benefits of those strategies that they began to reflect, personally challenge, deconstruct and finally begin to reconstruct their understanding of the multilevel philosophy, and in essence their professional identities.
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van Kommer, J. (2013). Bridging the Gap: When Mid-career Teachers Transition from Traditional to Multiage Contexts: Lessons from the Field (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca. doi:10.11575/PRISM/25166