School Administrators' Identification of Desirable Dispositions in New Teacher Candidates: A Focus Group Study
Eary, Wesley W.
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Many new teachers will be hired in the decades to come. A school administrator screening candidates for teaching positions is faced with a decision that can have long-term consequences for a community, a school, and thousands of children. Finding the best candidates for teaching positions has never been more important. A variety of questions centering on prior experience, knowledge, or expertise may be asked by those responsible for screening candidates, yet there is another area of importance to be considered in the process, that of dispositions. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation [CAEP], formerly known as the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education [NCATE] (2008), and the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium [INTASC] (2010) have emphasized the need to identify dispositions in addition to the knowledge and skills that have historically received emphasis by school districts seeking candidates and institutions preparing them. In response to this emphasis, administrators may benefit from a greater understanding of dispositions when interviewing and making hiring decisions. Administrators will also benefit by greater knowledge of the questions asked to determine if a candidate possessed a particular disposition. The research procedure uses a focus group format to conduct a multi-round survey/discussion to obtain input and consensus on two asked of school administrators: (1)'What do administrators believe are the critical dispositions a teacher candidate must possess?' and (2) 'Do administrators believe that a person can ask candidates questions to determine if they possess those dispositions? If so, what are the questions administrators can ask to determine if the candidates possess those dispositions?' Recommendations on dispositions that should be assessed and questions that may be used in the assessment of those dispositions will be developed from the results of the study. The focus group identified 19 dispositions and 74 interview questions within 5 theme groupings. These groupings included: beliefs about children, attitudes/beliefs – willingness to act, job-related skill, structure, and other personal attributes/traits.
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