Examining the New Layers of Teacher Education: A Cross-Case Analysis of the High School Induction Process for Alternatively Certified Teachers
The cross-case analysis described in this study explores the patterns of practice that support the induction needs of Alternatively Certified Teachers (ACTs) in the high school educational environment of a large suburban school district. Bronfenbrenner's (1976) systemic model of the educational environment that envisions a series of nested, interacting sub-systems is utilized as a roadmap for exploration. Data were collected beginning in the macro-system and continuing through the exo-system, meso-system, and micro-system of the educational environment. Interviews with teacher educators at the macro-system level, with central office staff at the exo-system level, with school administrators at the meso-system level, and with ACTs at the micro-system level were the primary means of data collection. Case study schools included three "high-ACT schools" with the largest number of ACTs in the district and two "norm-ACT schools" that reflected the average number of ACTs in the remaining five high schools in the district. Observations at teacher induction activities and mentor training sessions and analysis of relevant documents, including mentor program evaluation responses, were used to triangulate the data. Evolving display matrices were the primary strategy for data analysis. Themes were identified at each level of the educational environment. Differences among the sub-systems and between the "high-ACT" and "norm-ACT" schools were described. Findings revealed the following consistent themes within the levels of the high school environment: (a) the use of creative recruitment practices that include recognition of the value of ACTs as an important resource for finding new teachers; (b) emphasis on the role of personal qualities and teacher beliefs in equipping an individual to make a successful transition to teaching; (c) the pervasive sense of culture shock that ACTs experience; (d) the emphasis on establishing a wide network of formal and informal mentors; and (e) the emphasis on learning the connection between classroom management and good instruction. The study concluded that the general patterns of practice supporting ACTs in the high school educational environment can be organized into the following categories: (a) blending theory and practice by infusing university expertise into the schoolhouse; (b) promoting formal and informal mentoring; and (c) differentiating support to meet the special needs of ACTs.